Tuesday, October 16, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

The 2018 MacBook Keyboards Have the Same Old Problems

Casey Johnston (tweet):

In July, Apple slightly redesigned the very low profile butterfly keyboard on its MacBooks and MacBook Pros, not because “a small percentage” of the previous version was rendered useless by a speck of dust, the company said, but to make it quieter; it even invited the tech press to try it out. iFixit teardowns of the hardware revealed that, in fact, Apple had added a silicone membrane under the keys that looks quite a bit like it’s meant to keep dust and debris from lodging under the key and locking it up. Was that the idea? No, Apple unequivocally said.

But this was not the story I got from several Apple employees I have since spoken to at Apple stores I visited. Every time I described the 2017 MacBook Pro I sold because I couldn’t stand its non-functional keyboard and asked an Apple store employee if the new one would screw me over the same way, each assured me that Apple had changed the keyboards so that that would never happen again.


But checking around online, it appears the new keyboards have the same old issues. They may be delayed, but they happen nonetheless. The MacRumors forum has a long thread about the the “gen 3 butterfly keyboard” where users have been sharing their experiences since Apple updated the design. […] The thread goes one for 600 posts, most either posting complaints, expressing how mystified they are that the problems continue, or speculating what Apple will do now that this design has failed as well.

Previously: Mac Sales Down in Q3 2018 Amid a Lack of Updates, MacBook Pro 2018, Unreliable MacBook Pro Keyboards.

Update (2018-10-18): Nick Heer:

The nature of online reviews and Mac enthusiast forum users, in general, tends to draw out negative experiences in a sort of shared commiseration experience. There aren’t loads of people who will chime in with their flawless keyboard experience. But, even if a smaller number of 2018 MacBook Pro owners are finding their computers susceptible to dust-induced keyboard failures compared to 2016 or 2017 model year users, these problems are still unique to the ultra low profile “butterfly” mechanism used in these models and are not present in previous generations of keyboards. This a serious regression of one of its single most critical components. These are not good keyboards.

Update (2018-10-25): John Kneeland:

I’ve gone through 2 MacBook Pros at work with the new keyboard in 6 months because they keep breaking...lesson learned...for my home computer I’ll hold onto my old 2013 MacBook as long as possible

Update (2019-01-08): TopherTheGreat1 (via Accidental Tech Podcast):

I am an owner of a mid 2018 MacBook Pro 13in with the Touch Bar. My space bar double spaces randomly when I’m typing and it drives me nuts! It’s doing it right now. I had a different device but sent it to support for the same issue and they replaced it. Now my replacement device is showing the beginnings of the same issue.

Francisco Tolmasky:

I have the newest MacBook Pro (latest refresh with “improved” keyboard). My e key has started repeating. This just feels cruel now. Can Apple just swallow their pride on this and fix it? What a stupid way to ruin an otherwise fine product and just zap the joy out of using it.

Marco Arment:

After a week of unexpected Overcast work on vacation, I have as much of a love-hate relationship with my 2018 13" MBP as ever.

I’m so glad I have it. I’m so glad it’s as fast and capable as it is.

Still HATE the keyboard. Still make tons of errors due to the spacing and layout.

It’s not the butterfly switches, though they’re still unpleasant, ungraceful, unreliable, and a huge unforced error.

It’s the damn layout. There’s not enough space between the keys. There’s not enough curvature on the keycaps. There’s no inverted-T arrow keys. It’s a bad design.

Dave Nanian:

Even the Surface Go’s “smaller” keyboard is better than the MBP’s. And, whether or not the keys are more “stable” or whatever, the scissor keys seem like an answer to a question no one ever asked.

Jordan Pittman:

For me I actually rather like the keyboard for the way it feels but I def. understand the spacing bit. I have two issues now:

1. Sometimes I the return key presses twice. Not sure if its a switch thing or what

2. My left cmd key stops even when pressed sometimes. :/

Chris Mallinson:

Yup. I’ve had to replace a couple of keyboards because of stuck keys but I can deal with fixable issues. I love my machines but the keyboards are absolutely terrible at their only job and it’s especially bad for coders.

Derek Martin:

I’ve been having a HUGE problem I haven’t heard anyone else mention. Due to lack of key travel, I am CONSTANTLY triggering seemingly random keyboard shortcuts. I launched iTunes playing rasta music while giving a presentation. I accidentally create bookmarks & switch tabs. Crazy!


Exactly this. I thought it was something I’d eventually adjust to, but 4 months in I still hate it.

And I have an R key that sometimes doesn’t work, or works a bit too late (??) so the letters end up in the wrong order as I type. Which is awesome behaviour from a £2k laptop.


Data point: Just got new MBA and the travel feels better but the space key is already sticking and sending two keystrokes. Makes coding hard!


I’ve never had a laptop before the MacBook Pro 2018. Have Apple laptop keyboards always looked so weird so fast after being exposed to finger grease for two seconds?

Max Odnoletkov:

I hate using even slightly dirty keyboard. Used to wipe MacBook Pro 2013 only once a day. Now with 2018 need to do it multiple times a day. Even with pristine hands it gets visually dirty just from the finger grease very quickly.

Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

I have to agree that the most recent iteration is worse and my biggest complaint is the layout of the arrow keys. I have been typing on this keyboard for over two years now and I still make mistakes when trying to press the arrows without looking at them. Turns out that the empty space above the left and right arrows was really important.

John Gruber still says the keyboard reliability issues are fixed.

John Kneeland:

And now the “o” key on my MacBook’s garbage keyboard is acting up. This keyboard would be unacceptable on a $300 crap laptop. Why do we all pretend it’s okay on a $3000 MacBook?


I’m on my 5th replacement MacBook Pro this year because of stuck keys. Each time it’s 2 weeks to fix. Apple’s had my laptop 1/6th of the year.

Michael Rockwell (tweet):

That is, until I started getting duplicate inputs when I pressed certain keys. Whenever I would type something with the letter “a” or “p” in it, the Air would register multiple key presses when I was only intending to type a single letter. For example, typing the word “apple” would give me something like “aappple”. Referring to this as “irritating” would be a gross understatement.

Since I spend most of my day typing, this is basically a nightmare. I’ve tried to mitigate the issue by attempting to smoosh whatever dust or debris is causing the problem by firmly pressing on the top of the key and giving it a little wiggle with my finger. That will usually give me another day or so until the problem arises again. But this is by no means a solution.

Maxwell Swadling:

I got my MacBook back today with the keyboard replaced under warranty. They said I get 2 years warranty on the new part. Will be interesting taking my 2015 MacBook in to get fixed in 2021 under warranty…

胡昕峤 huxing:

Expected service time for keyboard failure is absolutely prohibitive: I’ve had a MBP with multiple defective keys for the better part of a year, but I simply cannot live without it for 2 weeks.

Apple Support’s suggestion? Buy a new one and return it within the 2-week window.

Craig Chamberlain:

I’ve had top case replacements twice, once due to keyboard and once due to touch bar display. Both times I had my machine back in 3 days.

Previously: MacBook Air 2018.

Update (2019-01-09): Marco Arment:

Multiple reports of the MacBook Air spacebar causing double-keypresses already (including @siracusa).

Anecdotally, the 2018 membrane does seem to be reducing failures due to dust ingress, but the butterfly keyboard has always had multiple failure types. Others seem to remain.

Smashing Magazine:

Interesting. After letters “e”, “o”, “a” and “i” slowly broke out from my Mac butterfly keyboard, tried switching to an external keyboard (Logitech Keys-To-Go) and can’t go back to the butterfly keyboard any more. So much more comfortable. Especially with a secondary display.

Update (2019-01-11): Steve Troughton-Smith:

Inconceivable that Apple still sells products with that catastrophe of a keyboard mechanism four years on. Nobody should ever consider a MacBook/Pro while this remains unresolved. Hard to justify wasting time debating software quality when the entire hardware line is a write-off

Where the heck is the Apple PR roundtable apologizing for screwing up the Mac notebook lineup’s keyboard so badly, and promising to do better next time? These may be the last ever Intel Mac notebooks, and this is the best they can do?

At what point do they start including cans of compressed air with new MacBooks, because they clearly think that’s an acceptable user experience?

Update (2019-01-16): Steven Peterson (via Marco Arment):

Today I picked up a new 15” MacBook Pro, fully loaded. It was very expensive. I was excited to have a faster machine for my development work.

I just returned it and got my money back because it kept making random popping noises. Then I saw this.

Update (2019-01-23): Unbox Therapy (via Marco Arment):

My 2018 Macbook Air is experiencing a problem...

Spencer Julien:

I went through four 2016 MBPs and now I’m on my second 2018 MBP. It has been a long road filled with disappointment.


Our company stopped buying them and only leases Apple’s laptops because we don’t want to be stuck with lemons long-term.

Myke Nahorniak:

We switched to Chromebooks in the office because of this. Never thought I’d see the day. We’d been an Apple shop exclusively for 8 years.

Update (2019-01-28): Brian Vaughn:

MacBook Pro update: My space bar is broken– double spaces, random spaces between other characters, essentially this

Also today my Command key stopped working half of the time.

This $3k laptop is less than 6 months old. Pretty rotten, @Apple 🙄

Axel Rauschmayer:

This is absolutely unacceptable: the keyboard should be the most robust part of a laptop, not its most fragile one.

Ivan Saveliev:

I had similar issue with MacBook Pro 2016, with “B” key I guess. It appeared very shortly after the purchase. I was so disappointed, but after using it for some time issue has just gone. It happened few times shortly afterwards, but it’s like a breeze for 2 years now.

Update (2019-01-31): Bogdan Popescu:

Special announcement: because my 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard has a failing ‘d’ key, I’m going to have to rebrand Dash to Ash

Michael Rockwell:

I really like it a lot. The display is great, it offers plenty of power for my needs, the battery life is fantastic, etc. The only complaint I have is the keyboard. I don’t mind typing on it, but I get double keypresses frequently, which is maddening.

Update (2019-02-04): Greg Hurrell:

Having used the keyboard on the current MacBook Pro now for 3 weeks, I can add my voice to the chorus of millions proclaiming its unequivocal horridness. This is a keyboard without a single redeeming feature, not even its thinness (which only serves to ruin the tactile feedback).

Chris Marquardt:

I now officially agree with @marcoarment: The 2018 MBP keyboard is really bad.

5 months into sparingly using it, it now repeats some keypresses or it leaves them out. This tweet needed 3 corrections.

First time an Apple product has ever done this to me.

Tim Hardwick (Hacker News):

Published last week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and first spotted by AppleInsider, the patent application called “Computer with keyboard” describes a keyboard that replaces movable keys with a glass sheet that includes raised sections to designate the tactile location of individual keys.


Flawed butterfly MacBook Pro keyboards will smoothly accelerate Apple’s long-planned transition to haptic glass-panel ones, experts say.


Update (2019-02-05): jan klausa:

yeah, my space key sometimes gets “stuck” and i need to mash on it to make it pop back up again. almost-launch-day 2018 model.

Update (2019-02-07): Ceej:

Macbook keyboard suckitude update: Current bad keys include the space bar and the F key. I get either doubles or skips.

It’s hard to overstate how much of a negative this is to the daily experience of using a piece of hardware I was predisposed to like.

See also: MacInTouch.


I was in denial about my 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard. After one too many double-spaces and missed letters, I dug out an old Magic Keyboard. It’s depressing how much better the Magic Keyboard is. Let’s hope the butterfly keys metamorphosize into something better soon!

Machiel van Dorst:

I was always complaining to Marco that he mentioned it too much.. until it happened to me AND my friend in the span of three weeks. We spend a combined total of 4500 euros and I’m typing double Bs and she’s typing double Js now..

Sam Armstrong:

I really regret my decision to hold my nose and buy the laptop anyway. Started having trouble with double letters days after the return window closed. @AppleSupport has been completely useless/unsymathetic.

Daniel Sandler:

the D key on my MacBook is failing, which makes it really tough to login

Update (2019-02-18): John Gruber:

On the MacBook front they had decent MacBook Pro updates and the third-gen butterfly keyboard seems to have fixed the reliability problems with the previous keyboards.

Update (2019-02-27): Alex Fitzpatrick:

Welp, Apple has my MacBook Air to fix the dreaded keyboard issue

[…] my E key was acting up. Sometimes wouldn’t register, sometimes would register twice, and sometimes would register the wrong letter entirely, often a W....

...Genius Bar tried replacing the E key in the store, no luck. They said there’s a sensor under the keyboard that could be swapped as a repair method, so that’s what they’re up to now

Also FWIW it was two months old and I just used it around the house. Frustrating. I actually like the new keyboard as far as typing goes, but obviously something’s up here.

Joanna Stern:

Keys on my new Air keep getting stuck and certain keys ned to b hit super hard or lse this happns.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

anecdotal reports in my timeline for the past few months suggest this is just as bad as the older models. I’ve completely written off Apple’s portable line — nobody should buy right now

John Gillilan:

I’m on my 2nd 2018 15" MBP. on the first one, the right arrow key didn’t register if you hit the key around it’s periphery, only in the middle.

Quinn Nelson:

When oh when will it end. My 2018 MBP is already starting to give me problems too and I almost never use it. I gotta go visit the Genius Bar.

Andy Ihnatko:

This whole design is a total ****show. Going way beyond the garbage keyboard, the platform is riddled with failures and design problems that are 100% not issues in almost any laptop with the same performance and specs, not made by Apple, even at 2/3 the cost.

Update (2019-03-05): Marco Arment:

Loved this segment with @gruber and @reneritchie about the MacBook keyboards, and quite how damaging they’ve been (and will continue to be) to Apple’s reputation

Marco Arment:

One of Apple’s biggest problems is their deep-rooted, institutional culture of defensiveness, which leads to an overly dismissive attitude toward legitimate criticism or product defects.

Problems clear to customers on day one seem to catch Apple by surprise and take ages to fix.

Update (2019-03-07): Jason Snell:

The ATP hosts all made a “good keyboard” their top priority, an idea that would’ve been surprising a few years ago but now is almost a given. Yes, of course, Apple laptops need to be fast and reliable and have great displays and good battery life, but the past few years’ worth of MacBooks have made a lot of people realize the truth: a bad/unreliable laptop keyboard isn’t something you can really work around if you’re a laptop user.

Nick Heer:

It is worrying to me that this even needs to be stated. Imagine if the iPhone or iPad shipped with a display that didn’t accurately register touches after a couple of months. Unfathomable; and, yet, that’s basically the situation for Apple’s entire notebook lineup.

Update (2019-03-13): Unshaky:

Unshaky tries to address an issue on the butterfly keyboard (Macbook & MacBook Pro 2016 or later): Double Key Press (See “User complaints” below).

Apple made it difficult to replace only the keyboard and it costs hundreds of dollars. Unshaky might save your keyboard by dismissing such “second key hits” (any key presses that occur no later than x milliseconds after the previous effective one). I fixed my “w” key with Unshaky, and if it does not work for you, open an issue here. The image below illustrates how Unshaky works.

Update (2019-03-27): Joanna Stern (tweet):

You see, to share the pain of using an Apple laptop keyboard that’s failed after four months, I could only think of one idea: take all the broken letters out of my column.


Others have had problems with Apple’s latest laptops, too. There’s Gavin Sheridan, who bought a MacBook Air and noticed within two weeks that the E, R, W and T keys started double-pressing, same as mine. And Joshua Johnson, with his $2,000-plus MacBook Pro. “About 1 in 7 times, the T is doubled,” he says.


“We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry,” an Apple spokesman said in a statement. “The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard.” If you have a problem, contact Apple customer service, he added.

However, all indications are that Apple will charge you to repair their own defective product.

This is the experience you’re providing to customers who shell out $1,200 or more—sometimes a lot more. This is the experience after THREE attempts at this keyboard design. It’s time to stop prioritizing thinness over usability. It’s time to set the butterfly keyboard free. Let it fly...far, far away.


Does this story appear in Apple News +?

Sameer Habib:

Looking for the same answer, I can’t seem to find the story in News +

Pulin Kothari:

Why can’t I find this article in the WSJ section of Apple News+?

Chris Bailey:

So happy that this article is out. I’ve had to take my third-gen keyboard in TWICE already. I know the third repair is only a little while off. And the fourth. And the fi....

Seriously, this thing is basically a lemon. 🍋

John Gruber (tweet):

I consider these keyboards the worst products in Apple history. MacBooks should have the best keyboards in the industry; instead they’re the worst. They’re doing lasting harm to the reputation of the MacBook brand.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

The ongoing saga with the faulty MacBook keyboards is bananas. I have the latest MacBook Pro. I haven’t used it that much. The keyboard is fcked. Is this an elaborate scheme to get people to use iPads? Just to get a working mobile keyboard?

It’s possible, though, that Apple truly does not know the extent of the problem. They seem to be basing their assessment purely on “contacted apple about the problem”. My keyboard is fucked, didn’t contact Apple. Had another laptop that was fucked, didn’t contact Apple.

Apple is underestimating the huge pain in the fucking ass it is to deal with Apple support. It’s so painful that plenty of people would rather live with a shitty keyboard than dealing with the hassle of repairs, going without a computer, etc. This is Danger Zone territory.

Diana Potter:

I’m at the point with my laptop that I’m about ready to get a bluetooth keyboard for travel, solely because the one on my macbook is so shit and has so many problems. Next time I replace my laptop, I’m switching to Windows.

Andrew Abernathy:

A couple years ago when a relative asked which MacBook to buy, I recommended the Air which at least at the time had the older keyboard. I’ve had problems with my current MacBook keyboard twice & I’m afraid to foist this machine on someone else.

Josh Centers:

The keyboard is a bad design and Apple is too stubborn to just admit it and move on. It was too stubborn to admit the Mac Pro was a failure for years. And I’m supposed to trust this company with my finances, my information, and my entertainment.

A few years ago, I would buy Apple anything and wanted Apple everything because it was all gold or close enough to it. Buy I just don’t trust them like I once did. (And some people think that makes ME the bad guy. 🙄)

Anthony Stauffer:

This is a very good point. The inability to admit failure of this design is a dangerous character flaw for a company that now builds many of the devices and services we run our lives with. Pride goeth before a fall.

Damien Petrilli:

Sadly for Apple, the “small number” of people seems to hit a lot of influencers and journalists. Bad luck I guess.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Apple isn’t Xerox. And clearly there are many people who care deeply about the product there. But Jobs describing the failure of Xerox, based on its monopoly lock-in, and how it rots away product sensibilities, should be a warning to Apple today.

Update (2019-03-28): Casey Johnston:

i wrote about this several times in the last 18 months, apple never had anything to say wsj writes about it once, apple says it’s sorry

I don’t really think this counts as an apology.

Don MacAskill:

The interactive way @JoannaStern brings us, the readers, along for the ride is brilliant. (Also, the keyboard thing finally struck me too, with my latest & greatest 2018 MBP. Sounds trivial, but once it happens to you, it’s anything but.)

Matt DeCelles:

Also I’m currently typing this tweet on a bluetooth keyboard because my MBP’s “T” Key, “0" and “/” dont work and when type on the MBP it makes me want to throw it out the window. Problem is even more frustrating when one of the Keys is in your password… :(

Nick Heer:

Also, while I understand that any company’s PR team seeks to minimize the apparent impact of a complaint, their statement’s claim that a “small number of users are having issues” is condescending and tone-deaf.


Their keyboard service program also does not acknowledge issues with or provide extended service for 2018 MacBook Pro or MacBook Air models. The one-year warranty included with those models will expire, at the earliest, in mid-July.

Mike Poullas:

I had bought the 2016, 2017 and 2018 MBP. ALL had keyboard issues. and the 2017 also had a speaker "pop" problem. ALL had issues with the T2 chip (OS crashed). Notice I used the word HAD? Dumped them all and went back to the Military-Grade 2015 MBP.

ᴺᴼᵀ Jony Ive:

Fixed the MacBook Pro keyboard situation.

See also: Hacker News.

Update (2019-03-29): Samuel Axon:

2018 MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs with the third-generation keyboards are still covered by their first-year warranties, so if you have the problem and don’t have AppleCare, you can get it fixed. But if Apple doesn’t extend the repair program to include those models, users could find themselves in frustrating and expensive circumstances months down the line if they have not purchased AppleCare.

Also, AppleCare is expensive, and it’s not available in all regions. And many users do not have Apple Stores nearby. That’s a problem, because the AppleCare experience is much worse if you have to mail your device off.

Update (2019-04-01): Jon Stokes:

I know that if there’s one thing Apple employees are always buying, it’s Apple laptops. So I don’t understand how they use this garbage keyboard all over HQ and nobody says anything or fixes it. Is everyone there afraid to tell Tim Apple how bad it is?

Jean-Louis Gassée:

As in previous responses, Apple minimizes reports of keyboard trouble, claiming that only “a small number ofusers are having issues” [that’s my own space key acting up]. Indeed, the “apology” makes it sound as though the complainers are cranks: “The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard.” Note, also, how Apple defends the new keyboard. Nothing about the older ones…

Apple’s defensiveness and lack of transparency breaks several damage control rules.


Is today’s Mac a neglected, also-ran product that’s subject to delayed updates and infelicitous (or lazy) PR management? Badly managed responses to widely-heard, vociferous customer complaints tarnishes the Macintosh brand and causes one to worry about top management attention to a product line many still treasure.

David Heinemeier Hansson (tweet):

I sampled the people at Basecamp. Out of the 42 people using MacBooks at the company, a staggering 26% are dealing with keyboard issues right now!! And that’s just the people dealing with current keyboard issues. If you include all the people who used to have issues, but went through a repair or replacement process, the number would be even higher.

Worth noting here is that the 3rd generation membrane keyboard did nothing to fix the issues. Five out of twelve – nearly half!! – of the 2018+ MacBooks we have at the company have a failed keyboard.

Marco Arment:

This is why the press and Apple shouldn’t trust reports based on repair data alone.

Bringing/sending in a laptop for service is hugely disruptive for people, who own them because they need them.

It’s easier to live with a flaky key than to go without your MBP for a week+.

Ken Kocienda:

Yep. My down arrow key is flaky. I’m just living with it.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

This thread pinpoints exactly how Apple ended up with the calamity that is computers where half the keyboards end up breaking. They only analyzed the return data, not what people were living with and not reporting. This fiasco is going to be a HBR Quality Case Study.

After three iterations and years of spectacular failures, this isn’t a problem you can pin on one individual or even a group. This is a systemic failure of analysis, wishful thinking (membranes!!), and contingency planning. When it’s this bad this long, the buck stops at the top.

Update (2019-04-02): Steve Troughton-Smith:

Would you willingly consider purchasing another Mac laptop with the current-style butterfly keyboard, if you had other keyboard options?

Nick Heer (tweet):

The Apple-related story I want to read most of all right now is about how these keyboards came to be, what happened after problems began to show up, and how they kept shipping regardless.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Another data point. Mac Genius on Reddit claims half the repairs they do on MacBooks are for busted keyboards. And as we just found, the vast majority of people with busted keyboards don't even seek repairs!

Joe Fabisevich:

I’ve been waiting a month for my vacation to get my sticky keyboard fixed so I don’t have to give my computer up while I need it. The only replacement option Apple gives is to buy a computer for a few days which isn’t ideal when you need to setup a dev environment to do your job.

Jason Snell:

I think it worked like this

1. Commentators complained about the feel
2. Commentators complained about the touch bar
3. Lots of people complained about the prices

<giant cloud of controversy>

...keyboard failures...

Adam Davidson:

I am shocked to report I am switching to Microsoft because Apple keyboards suck so badly that I can’t write. And I write for a living.

Eric Meyer:

I’m eyeing the refurb market for 2015 MBPs, should my 2013 MBP give out. But I’m also considering a switch to Windows after literally three decades on Mac, even though I’d lose two Mac-only apps I cherish (BBEdit and MailMate.)

Nicholas Ptacek:

While lacking the power of the MBP, the 2017 MacBook Air still uses the old keyboard technology that doesn’t suck. I basically do all my work on it now because I cannot stand the MBP keyboard. Hands down the MBP is the worst Apple product I’ve ever owned, and the most expensive.

Oh and add me to the list of folks who haven’t bothered taking it in to Apple for repair, partly because they’ll just replace it with an equally horrible keyboard, but mostly because even when working I can’t stand the keyboard design.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

And here’s another firm with over 20 MacBooks. Again, half of them have issues.

See also: Hacker News.

Update (2019-04-03): Ezekiel Elin:

I use my computer every day for many hours, programming. (On my old keyboards I would wear out the black key coloring from all my presses on a few keys). I’ve (pretty consistently, but on average) a failure every 9.5 months since owning the computer

John Gruber (tweet):

I suspect it’d be more accurate to say that it’s way worse than Apple admits. They don’t need to look at the number of support incidents from customers. Almost everyone at Apple uses MacBooks of some sort. They know from their own use of the product how problematic reliability is.

Craig Hockenberry:

Are you one of the many people affected a MacBook keyboard failure?

If so, you now have the slightest hint of what it’s like to live with a disability. You can’t use a product like everyone else and it’s preventing you from achieving your goals.

Update (2019-04-04): Pete Mauro:

They wanted to take my Mac for a week to warranty repair my keyboard. My Acura dealer gave me a 2019 loaner when I brought my 2010 car in for warranty work. Apple genius told me I could buy a new laptop and return it. No thanks.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

I had the same conversation with an Apple genius about a iPhone repair. It seems bizarre that the standard response to “but what will I do without my device?” is “buy another and return it”. How does that even work for Apple? Refurb can’t be cheap.

James Vanas:

After the 3rd time keys fell off, I had to do the buy and return trick.

Lost time on Apple store appointments.

Lost money on transaction fees (was overseas).

Lost time on backup and restore.

Damn webcam stopped working 1 month after the repair.

Not easy to face that again.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

I’ve been getting a flood of direct feedback on the MacBook keyboard fiasco, but this account from a student who was told by the Genius Bar that his busted keyboard was because “he was typing too hard” takes the cake. Guy now getting a PC after five repairs. Infuriating.


I got told that my keyboard double spacing was “user error” because I type very quickly. 🙄 So why doesn’t it happen when I type on my 2015 Air then?

David Heinemeier Hansson:

“You’re typing it wrong” really is some peak Apple apologia. Not sure “you’re holding it wrong” can even compete there.

Update (2019-04-05): John Gruber:

I personally would prefer TouchBar to F-keys if they’d bring back hardware Esc key.

But there’s no denying a lot of people hate it. And if you’re arguing it’s best-suited for folks who don’t know shortcuts or right-clicking, it seems wrong it’s only in Pro MacBooks.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

I pleaded with Apple last year when they gave me an iMac Pro and a conference call with the Pro team. Insisted that developers hated giving up the physical ESC key. Team was adamant that “our data shows most people like it”. I think their focus group selection is fucked.

Which is partly why I’m not so cynical on “Apple knows all this, they’re just lying to the public about it”. I think it’s entirely possible that the people make strategic decisions for the MacBook line does not know the dark matter of people living with broken keyboards.

Previously: What’s Wrong With the Touch Bar.

Update (2019-04-10): Ryan Begin:

It took 1hr+ on the phone to arrange a MacBook Pro keyboard repair (purchased from Apple with AppleCare).

When they say “We’re aware that a small number of users are having issues...” with Mac keyboards, that smacks of knowing minimization.

It’s HARD to report and get fixed.


Btw none of this is news to me. @begin’s MacBook Pro fleet has >100% failure rate of these keyboards. Seriously. I believe I’m personally on my 3rd or 4th.

Marco Arment:

I’m glad they tried, too. The butterfly keyboard was an appropriate experiment for the 12” MacBook, and only that.

Whoever made the call to expand it to ALL notebooks, then kept shipping them for the next four years despite the problems, shouldn’t have a job at Apple anymore.

Max Rudberg:

The up arrow key on my 2017 MBP sometimes doesn’t register my key press. It does travel, but I have to press it just a little bit harder for it to actually register. And this laptop is just over a year old and I mostly use it in clamshell mode…

…I’m not going to take it to service because of it, that would be way too disruptive to my work.

The number of machines with slight keyboard issues that Apple never gets to know about could be significant.

Stephan Müller:

Went to the Apple store and all exhibition models seemed to have the same issue. After about 4 replacements for different keys I eventually lucked out and mine seems to work fine for now.

Also, both up and down were affected. This was probably the reason why the left right keys are full size; they can’t really do the smaller ones.

Cameron Banga:

My “8” key works about ~60% of the time on my work laptop. I almost never use the laptop and instead use a magic keyboard (which works flawlessly). I would never bring it in for service because it doesn’t bother me enough to lose for 2 weeks.

Update (2019-04-18): Josh Kalla:

Very annoyed with @AppleSupport. I just picked up my 2018 MacBook Pro from the Apple Store after having the keyboard repaired. Start catching up after being without my laptop for 30+ hours and I’m already back on the phone with @AppleSupport. Now the TouchBar isn’t responsive...

Gabe Borelli:

With my last MacBook, I had the same issue rendering it unusable three times before they finally just replaced my device altogether. But even then, they only did so because they messed up the hard drive and lost all my data in the process. It was the absolute worst.

Bob Clewell:

Same. I was without a computer for two weeks and then as part of the repair they replaced my hard drive. All of this because of a broken question mark key.

Chris Black:

When the keyboard on your MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, 2017) decides to malfunction. SMFH

Dan Benjamin:

I have successfully fixed all of my MacBook Pro keyboard issues by purchasing an iMac.

Update (2019-04-22): Casey Johnston (tweet, Hacker News):

Fueled by equal parts irrational hope I knew I shouldn’t trust and deep skepticism to which I should have listened, I bought the 2018 MacBook Air.

Sure enough, a couple months into owning this computer, the keys started to act up. As before, problems would come and go; the E or B key would be unresponsive for a day or so before whatever was jamming them up mysteriously went away. The spacebar was the worst offender. For a long while it doubled spaces from a single keypress, but only sometimes.


After verifying my problem, the Genius issued her judgment: “So the keyboard on this computer is very sensitive,” she said. “And when debris goes underneath the keyboard, it can become unresponsive. So I’m just going to clean it out, I’m going to take it to the back and blow air in it and we’ll see if it gets better. Ok?”


Does Apple sell canned air? No, she said; she recommended Best Buy or Staples.

Peter Cohen:

In the interim, I just plan to keep my mid-2015 MacBook Pro going for as long as I can.

Update (2019-04-23): Joe Rossignol:

Apple has indicated that most MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboard repairs will be required to be completed at Apple Stores until further notice, rather than being shipped to an off-site Apple repair center, according to an internal memo shared with Apple Store employees last week and obtained by MacRumors.

Apple’s memo, titled “How to support Mac customers with keyboard-related repairs in store,” advises Genius Bar technicians that these keyboard repairs should be “prioritized to provide next-day turnaround time”[…]

Update (2019-04-28): See also: Hacker News.

Joanna Stern:

OK, now I may actually geet this keeyboarrd fixeed.

Marco Arment:

Step 1 of fixing the butterfly keyboards was the repair extension program.

This feels like step 2. Still a workaround, but nicer.

I hope there’s a step 3 that truly fixes the root cause, and that it comes at a less-glacial pace than steps 1 and 2 have.

David Pogue:

My MacBook Pro keyboard has started triggering double-presses, like everyone else’s—even AFTER being repaired for this known issue!

John Gruber (tweet):

These keyboards are the biggest mistake in Apple’s history.

John Gruber:

I completely agree that the problem isn’t shipping this keyboard in the first place. If they never shipped something that doesn’t work out, they’re not pushing hard enough. (G4 Cube!)

The mistake is not admitting it to themselves and fixing it.

Rick N. Morty:

Given that Apple’s so-called repair program is a farce - replacing faulty keyboards with faulty keyboards - there is only one solution. Offer a full refund to anyone who has bought a butterfly keyboard MscBook, should they want one

Malte Ubl:

My MacBook keyboard went from no “h” to “hh” which is definitely an improvement all things considered.

Matthew Panzarino:

Yep. @gruber (and @caseyjohnston) are right, these MacBook keyboards are just no good. Scrap them, start over. Should already have.

opper for me, after years of no incidents at all on my MacBooks, was my H key failing _while liveblogging an Apple keynote_

The way to refute this (if there is a refutation to be had after anecdotal evidence too wide-spread to be isolated) is for Apple to release repair percentage comparisons for the new MacBooks.

If it truly is a ‘tiny’ amount, enumerate that amount. Until then, it’s individual examples that will set the narrative.

Update (2019-05-10): cil3x:

At this point, there is no evidence left at all that dust is the cause of failures for this switch, especially not for the Double-Input issue since that entirely relies on how long and how many electrical signals are detected by the keyboard controller. There is absolutely no reason why dust or humidity can cause this, especially with no easy entry points and the general lack of electrical conductivity of both dust and water.


It proves that Apple themselves have no idea how to deal with the issue and that dust was either just an excuse to satisfy their customer bases demand for an answer, or their engineers are genuinely nowhere near as smart as everyone thinks they are.

Via John Gruber:

Like most stuff on Reddit I don’t think it’s very cohesive. It’s like a notebook for an article, not an article. But the author does make one key observation that I don’t think I’ve seen anyone make before, even though it’s obvious to anyone following this saga: If the reliability problem with these keyboards is only about particles getting lodged under the keys, then we should see random keys having problems. But that’s not what we see. What we see are that the most-used keys — vowels (especially “E”) and the space bar — are the keys most likely to get stuck or to start emitting duplicate characters.

Marco Arment:

Which supports what I’ve heard anecdotally: the 2018 models with the membrane don’t seem significantly more reliable than the previous ones.

Anonymous Genius:

This is an exhaustive and helpful teardown, but as a Genius who has taken in hundreds of these computers, the problem is the low keyboard travel distance combined with the large butterfly mechanism components, combined with debris intrusion. Dust is not the problem: design is.

Update (2019-05-17): Sebastiaan de With:

me, several times over the last months: “I never even had a single issue with my 2018 MBP keyboard. the issues might be overblown”

meeee: neeee month laaaateere: “gdammnit”


Weirdly, in over 2 years I have had absolutely *zero* problems with the MBP 2016 keyboard.

Nil. None. Nada. Zilch.


OTOH, ask me about problems when plugging and unplugging external monitors.

Go on, I dare ya. I double dare ya.

Honestly, it's a minor miracle this kernel-krashing POS hasn't taken a dive off a third-floor balcony. (I've smashed machines for less, you know.) Or possibly just the hope that I can hold out long enough for the entire industry to wise up and humph its ass to Windows PCs. At least then as an ISV I'll only have one garbage OS to worry about.

@has The Thunderbolt 3 on my iMac is incredibly unreliable at plugging in an external monitor. This is the only computer I remember having trouble with that in 30+ years.

Wait, so there is likely a problem, Apple changes production, but disavows it was on account of any actual problem. Problem still occurs on newer model, but still no acknowledgement from Apple?I

"Can't innovate anymore, my ass," is funnier by the year.

[…] T2, more than one port (sad that this was not a given), Touch ID without a Touch Bar. The bad: the unreliable keyboard, only two ports (only one when charging), no USB-A, the larger trackpad that’s more […]

[…] seems to think that the keyboard is […]

I have a 2016 MacBook Pro and I've been lucky to have no keyboard issues so far. I do use it 90% of the time closed with an external keyboard so that may have something to do with it. I still hate it though. The escape key and the arrow keys are abominations. I hate them with a passion that is undying. I hate the key travel. I'm a bit of a forceful typer I've found, and I feel like I'm going to bruise my fingers with this keyboard. Maybe I'd get used to the travel if I used it full time but I don't, and I hate it. Touch ID is cool when it works, but I'd say I like everything else about it less than previous Apple Keyboards.

I think this computer is what is contributing most of my frustrations with Apple recently. This is the most expensive computer I have ever owned, and I like it the least out of every Apple computer I've ever owned. I have more frustrations with it than any other. USB C/Thunderbolt 3 seems to be a format that works only when it feels like. Probably 10% of the time when I try to turn it on my external monitor won't come on. 5% of the time nothing comes on and I have to hard reboot. My admittedly cheap Anker USB hub I have to re-plugin probably 60% of the time I wake from sleep because nothing registers.

Apple is supposed to be the company that makes computers that "Just Work". And this computer feels like it was made by people who have heard what a computer is, they have seen pictures of them, but they have never actually used one, and have certainly not used this one.

[…] The 2018 MacBook Keyboards Have the Same Old Problems […]

[…] case for ARM. Are Mac buyers really that worried about processor speeds rather than, say, keyboards? And if slower processors are the problem, isn’t that mostly […]

[…] The 2018 MacBook Keyboards Have the Same Old Problems […]

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