I'm kinda interested in using the Dvorak layout (if nothing else, people won't want to steal my machine as much), but it drives me insane that tapping a key types a different character than is written on the key. Is there a way to remove & rearrange the keycaps on an 09 MacBook Pro? What do I need to watch out for?

4 Answers 4


Rather than explaining it myself through text and possibly sounding confusing, I'll just link this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh88cn_rtLo

I've popped off keys before in the same way he did, and it works just fine. Obviously for rearranging your keys in a Dvorak layout, you'll want to pull up a reference image on screen of what a Dvorak keyboard looks like, in case you haven't memorized it. And then just pop all the keys off, put the mechanism parts that go under the keys back on, and then put the actual keys on in the proper arrangement.

And it sounds like you've already switched your system input layout to Dvorak, but in case you haven't, it's really simple. Just go into System Preferences, then to Language & Text, then the Input Sources tab, and check Dvorak. Then check "Show Input menu in menu bar" and in the menubar you should see a new icon, and it should be the flag of your country keyboard layout if you haven't changed it before. Click that and you should be able to select Dvorak.


I did this a few years ago. There's a helpful post with instructions on https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2030850?tstart=0

I didn't have any issues getting the keys back on after they popped out, but it can be finicky and definitely requires some patience.

The only thing to watch out for, which particularly annoyed me, was that you can choose to move 'f' and 'j' to their new positions, but then the detents marking the "home row" will be incorrectly placed. On a newer laptop, I left those two keys and their counterparts in the incorrect positions. On my older MBP, I actually taped small fragments of pencil lead to the new home rows keys 'u' and 'h' to provide some tactile feedback.


I've done a similar procedure for a family member's MBP, and it was surprisingly easy to remove and replace the keys. A few guidance points:

  • Take the key off from the top/bottom, not the sides.

    It's much easier to remove the key by prying it from the top/bottom than the sides. Start at the bottom-left or top-left corner, lifting the key cap slightly, then push the mechanism inwards, freeing the key. Then simply pry the mechanism out of the key cap and clip it back into the keyboard. Repeat until you end up with a bunch of key caps, which you can place anywhere.

  • Be careful not to damage the silicon membrane.

    Don't go too far under the key - doing so could damage the membrane, making the key non-functional!

  • Use a plastic tool over a metal one if possible.

    A metal tool could scratch the key cap, making more backlight shine through the side of the key, which could end up being slightly annoying!


I'd suggest not doing it. I have tried rearranging the keycaps on two different laptops, and I damaged some of the keys both times. The replacement parts cost something like 50-100 USD. If you sell the laptop, you'll have to swap the keys again, and some of them might be damaged again.

The QWERTY labels might be useful if you actually forget the QWERTY layout at some point.

If you decide to swap the keys, see http://www.thebookyard.com/images/manuals/keyreplace.pdf. Most of it applies to newer keyboards as well.

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