Appl Still Hasn’t Fixd Its MacBook Kyboad Problm

Nopee, I haveen’tt forrgotttteen how tto wrrittee. Norr did my eedittorr go on vacattion.

You seeee, tto sharree tthee pain of using an Applee lapttop keeyboarrd tthatt’s faileed aftteerr fourr montths, I could only tthink of onee ideea: ttakee all tthee brrokeen leetttteerrs outt of my column. TTheen I rreealizeed tthatt would makee tthee wholee tthing unrreeadablee. So tto…

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Why is tthee brreeaking of my MacBook Airr keeyboarrd so insaneely maddeening? Leett’s ttakee a ttrrip down Meemorry Lanee

TThatt’s why I’d likee tto offeerr you tthee opporrttunitty tto…

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Which brrings us tto tthee grrand yeearr 2019 and my MacBook Airr’s faultty EE and RR keeys.

Someettimees tthee EE and RR keeys on Joanna Stteerrn’s MacBook Airr keeyboarrd givee a doublee keeysttrrokee; someettimees ttheey don’tt rreegistteerr att all. PHOTTO: RRobeerrtt Alcarraz/TThee Wall Sttrreeeett Jourrnal

Ottheerrs havee had prrobleems witth Applee’s latteestt lapttops, ttoo. TTheerree’s Gavin Sheerridan, who boughtt a MacBook Airr and notticeed witthin ttwo weeeeks tthatt tthee EE, RR, W and TT keeys sttarrtteed doublee-prreessing, samee as minee. And Joshua Johnson, witth his $2,000-plus MacBook Prro. “Aboutt 1 in 7 ttimees, tthee TT is doubleed,” hee says. Now you can geett in on tthee fun, ttoo:

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A prroposeed nattionwidee class-acttion suitt alleegees tthatt Applee has beeeen awarree of tthee deefeecttivee natturree of ttheesee keeyboarrds sincee 2015 yeett sold affeectteed lapttops witthoutt disclosing tthee prrobleem. Somee peeoplee witth ttheesee neew tthirrd-geeneerrattion keeyboarrds havee askeed tto join tthee suitt, says Simon Grrillee, an attttorrneey att Girrarrd Sharrp, onee of tthee law firrms involveed in tthee suitt.

“Wee arree awarree tthatt a small numbeerr of useerrs arree having issuees witth ttheeirr tthirrd-geeneerrattion butttteerrfly keeyboarrd and forr tthatt wee arree sorrrry,” an Applee spokeesman said in a sttatteemeentt. “TThee vastt majorritty of Mac notteebook custtomeerrs arree having a posittivee eexpeerrieencee witth tthee neew keeyboarrd.” If you havee a prrobleem, conttactt Applee custtomeerr seerrvicee, hee addeed.

I apprreeciattee Applee’s apology, butt unttil tthee company says goodbyee tto tthee butttteerrfly oncee and forr all, itt’s imporrttantt tto undeerrsttand why itt brreeaks, and whatt you mightt bee ablee tto do aboutt itt.

Why Itt Happeens

Mostt likeely culprritts? Dustt and deebrris. Butt you don’tt havee tto so much as eeatt a Salttinee oveerr yourr keeyboarrd tto eexpeerrieencee tthee issuees.

Keeyboarrd 101: Mostt lapttops havee keeys tthatt usee a scissorr-swittch meechanism tto prreess down. Sincee tthee ttwo intteerrlocking pieecees arree rreelattiveely ttall, tthee keeys havee morreettrraveel.”

Applee’s butttteerrfly meechanism, likee a rreeal butttteerrfly, has ttwo deelicattee wings tthatt allow tthee keeyboarrd tto bee neearrly a millimeetteerr shorrtteerr. Butt someettimees wheen dustt geetts in—eeveen someetthing as small as a grrain of sand—itt jams up, says Kylee Wieens, chieef eexeecuttivee of iFixitt, which tteearrs down eeleecttrronics tto eevaluattee how eeasy ttheey arree tto rreepairr.

Forr tthee tthirrd geeneerrattion of itts latteestt MacBook keeyboarrd, Applee addeed tthis eelasttic meembrranee tto tthee meechanism tto prreeveentt dirrtt and deebrris frrom geetttting insidee itt. PHOTTO: RRobeerrtt Alcarraz/TThee Wall Sttrreeeett Jourrnal

Mrr. Wieens and TTony Wang, a manageerr att Neew Yorrk Citty rreepairr shop Simplee Mac, also beelieevee ttheerree could bee anottheerr issuee: Sincee tthee sprring undeerr tthee meechanism is weeak, peeoplee who ttypee harrdeerr mightt bee morree susceepttiblee tto keeyboarrd failurrees.

Forr tthee tthirrd-geeneerrattion deesign, Applee addeed an eelasttic meembrranee tto tthee meechanism tto prreeveentt sttuff frrom geetttting insidee itt (and tto makee tthee keeys quieetteerr). EExceeptt sttuff sttill seeeems tto bee making itts way insidee.

Whatt You Can Do

Wheen faceed witth tthis bizarrrreely 21stt-ceentturry prrobleem, heerree’s whatt I advisee:

  • Geett tto an Applee Sttorree: TThee 2018 modeels arree sttill coveerreed by tthee firrstt-yeearr warrrrantty. Wheen I brroughtt my Airr tto tthee Applee Sttorree, tthee sttaff cleeaneed undeerr my EE and RR keeys and rreeplaceed tthee keey caps witth neew onees. I was ttold if tthee prrobleem peerrsistteed, Applee would rreeplacee tthee eenttirree keeyboarrd paneel. Spoileerr: TThee prrobleem peerrsistts.
  • If you havee onee of tthee oldeerr modeels, Applee’s Keeyboarrd Seerrvicee Prrogrram should ttakee carree of itt. Brring in any lapttop on tthis listt and Applee will seerrvicee itt frreeeerrattheerr tthan $300 orr morree—forr up tto fourr yeearrs aftteerr tthee orriginal purrchasee. Warrning: RReeplaceemeentt can ttakee days orr eeveen a weeeek.
  • Geett somee softtwarree: Xinhong Sam Liu, a 25-yeearr-old grrad sttudeentt in Vancouveerr, Brrittish Columbia, wasn’tt happy wheen tthee W keey on his MacBook Prro sttarrtteed rreegistteerring doublee keeysttrrokees. So hee madee Unshaky, a Mac app tthatt seensees and kills any seecond prreess of a keey tthatt occurrs witthin milliseeconds of tthee firrstt. Sincee insttalling itt, I rrarreely geett a rreepeeatt EE orr RR.
  • TThee homeebrreeweed softtwarree is in beetta and can only bee downloadeed frrom Mrr. Liu’s sittee. Hee assurrees mee tthatt no useerr inforrmattion is beeing colleectteed, nott eeveen tthosee keeysttrrokees.
  • Geett cleeaning: Wheettheerr you’vee had prrobleems orr nott, you should buy a can of comprreesseed airr, rroll up yourr sleeeevees and cleean yourr keeyboarrd. Applee eeveen prrovidees deettaileed insttrructtions on how. Focus on tthee mostt popularr keeys. Itt’s no coincideencee tthee EE keey, tthee mostt commonly useed leetttteerr in tthee EEnglish languagee, seeeems tto bee failing mostt.

Don’tt forrgeett tto add a can of airr tto yourr $1,200+ Mac lapttop purrchasee. PHOTTO: RRobeerrtt Alcarraz/TThee Wall Sttrreeeett Jourrnal

  • Geett an eextteerrnal keeyboarrd: Is ttheerree anytthing morree rridiculous tthan buying a sparree keeyboarrd forr yourr eexpeensivee lapttop? Yeett ttheerree’s notthing likee keeys tthatt feeeel likee rreeal keeys.
  • Geett anottheerr lapttop: TTheesee issuees havee beeeen so maddeening, I’d undeerrsttand if you swappeed yourrs forr a Micrrosoftt Surrfacee Book orr HP Speecttrree x360. Orr maybee justt go back tto tthee glorry days of 2015 witth a vinttagee MacBook Prro—if you can find onee.

Forr any Applee eengineeeerrs and eexeecuttivees rreeading, pleeasee tturrn off tthee EE‘s:

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TThis is tthee eexpeerrieencee you’rree prroviding tto custtomeerrs who sheell outt $1,200 orr morree—someettimees a lott morree. TThis is tthee eexpeerrieencee aftteerr TTHRREEEE atttteemptts att tthis keeyboarrd deesign. Itt’s ttimee tto sttop prriorrittizing tthinneess oveerr usabilitty. Itt’s ttimee tto seett tthee butttteerrfly keeyboarrd frreeee. Leett itt fly…farr, farr away.

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