Help me see what I'm typing!
July 23, 2007 8:28 AM   Subscribe

How can I get letters back onto my iBook keyboard?

So I have this iBook G4. Something about my skin chemistry makes the paint on the letters flake right off in a matter of weeks. No, it is not hand lotion. Apple's replaced the keyboard and a bunch of keycaps a number of times, but I'm frankly tired of dragging the thing in to the Apple store, and now that my warranty is expired, I'm not sure they'll help me anymore anyway. I can touch-type, but the five-year-old who also uses this machine? Not so much.

What home-brew solution is there for putting letters back on the blank keys?

I have tried: Sharpie, but it rubs right off. I've used an iSkin to preserve the original letters, but frankly I found it extremely unpleasant to type upon. I've looked for lettered stickers but haven't found anything that looks, well, not shady.

What else should I try?
posted by Andrhia to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A colored nail polish applied very carefully?
Make sure to clean with rubbing alcohol before applying.

WARNING: Do a test first to make sure the nail polish doesn't eat through the plastic...
posted by jammnrose at 8:44 AM on July 23, 2007

I was going to suggest some clear nail polish, put on top of drawn on letters.

OR - replace the letters one last time, and "shelac" (with the clear nail polish) the tiles before you put them on.

If you need only a couple, I've got an old iBook keyboard that may work. Email is in the profile, no charge for a fellow MeFite.
posted by plaidrabbit at 8:55 AM on July 23, 2007

Dremmel tool - engrave the letters into the plastic.
posted by Eringatang at 9:02 AM on July 23, 2007

I haven't got a G4 iBook to test this on, but is it possible that the laser etched keycaps from the old 17" Powerbook G4 would fit your keyboard? You could almost certainly pick up a broken one on eBay and try and switch the keycaps over.
posted by roofus at 9:05 AM on July 23, 2007

Learn touch type. Seriously.
To pass my 8th grade typing class, we had to type on keyboards with blank keys.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:18 AM on July 23, 2007

label maker with black-on-clear lettering.

You're not alone, by the way. I've seen 2 other iBooks have trouble with the letters rubbing off.
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:22 AM on July 23, 2007

I am an ass..I missed the five year old :/. Sorry.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:28 AM on July 23, 2007

I had this issue with my old laptop -- after trying the writing with permanent marker solution, painting letters on with nail polish, and other things that didn't work out, I went to Staples and got a sheet of these stick-on letters that were just the right size for a laptop keyboard. (Think the kind of lettering we used to use for science fair projects back in the day.) That worked best.

(Now I'm loving my MacBook pro with the lighty letters -- they can't erase! and they glow in the dark!)
posted by mothershock at 11:14 AM on July 23, 2007

Have you considered using a kid friendly external keyboard and mouse? Something like this Nickelodeon Spongebob kids keyboard which is supposed to be Mac compatible. There's also a Spongebob kids mouse.
posted by plokent at 12:29 PM on July 23, 2007

This happens to every keyboard I use, including twice on my iBook after having the keyboard replaced. Each time it happens within a matter of weeks despite the fact that I touch type at the speed of light. The IT guys at work are baffled.

I'll be curious to see what you find that works the best. In the meantime, I may try out mothershock's suggestion.
posted by zach braff's mixtape at 1:24 PM on July 23, 2007

I had the same problem. I bought a Titanium powerbook keyboard off ebay for $25 and replaced the keyboard with the black one... you have to be careful pulling the keys apart and you'll have to put the arrow keys on upside down. Also I had to sand the edges of the caps lock key, but overall it was easy and my Mom could have done it.

12" powerbook G4 keyboards also work but look uglier, imo.

good luck.
posted by n9 at 1:34 PM on July 23, 2007

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