I have a Macbook Pro 13 inch from 2009 on which I spilt gin a few months ago. As a result the shift key is constantly stuck down.

Initially, the problem was that I couldn't start the machine up, as it automatically went into safe mode, due to it booting with shift stuck down. I could get around this by holding the CMD button and tricking it. When it's started up, I disable the keyboard via command line and use a bluetooth keyboard from there.
Now I want to reinstall Mac OSX on it, but I can't do anything on boot; it won't boot into device selection screen or boot from CD.

Has anyone got a crafty plan on how I could go about getting OSX reinstalled on this machine? I have a 2011 Macbook Pro at my disposal also to help the case.

I was thinking doing a network install, but I still think that needs me to get the broken macbook into the device screen via holding a button right. Is it that correct?

4 Answers 4


Can you get the broken Mac to start in Target mode? You achieve that by pressing T while booting, it might work with the shift key too.

After that you can use the Mac as an external drive, so you can start the installation using the working MBP, pointing the installation to the broken Mac.


If you mean the key is physically stuck down ...

The keys just pop off. Try leveraging it up with a flat-head screwdriver or a rounded cutlery knife. Once off you should be able to unstick/clean the gin. To replace, just position it and push down. It should click into place.

  • Unfortunately it's not physical, the area around the Shift key has obviously been fried. I stripped the Mac down to it's underware after it happened and cleaned everything but unfortunately it didn't fix it. Commented Sep 18, 2011 at 15:36

I think the easiest way to get a working OSX on your stucked Mac will be that you disassemble your hard drive, connect it to your working Mac (maybe with a external hard drive case or a USB adapter), install OSX and do your keyboard correction (disabling internal keyboard) and reattach the hard drive to the broken Mac. Maybe it is more easier to use the target mode but I haven´t used it before.


Try an external keyboard

if that doesn't work immediately (I believe both would be active,) consider disassembling your MB and unplugging the onboard keyboard ribbon connector.

But, at that point, you are close to being able to just replace the keyboard, so . . . you may want to have procured a spare that you could just swap in while you have it apart...

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