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Regularly different keys on my new MacBook Pro (2016) are stuck. I assume little pieces of dirt or small crumbs interfere with the mechanics. With older Mac keyboards, I occasionally removed individual keys for cleaning. As the keyboard of the current model was redesigned, it seems much harder to do so now and I can’t find any tutorials.

So: How do I remove (and reinstall) a key of a MacBook Pro (2016)?

  • 3
    I had a similar problem, and my MBP is now under support since 1 week. They've ordered some components and should be repairing it. I think that it's not only a matter of dust, but a general problem for the new generation – fra Feb 7 '17 at 12:39
  • I've received a new laptop after four failed replacement keyboards.. More than one month for the support. The new laptop looks better, even if there is one key (dash sign) that seems also stuck from time to time. I guess that it's bad engineering and poor quality, I need to live with that. – fra Apr 3 '17 at 6:47
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    Hello, a change.org petition has been launched in relation with the MBP 2016 keyboard at change.org/p/… if you care sign up! – SEJU May 5 '18 at 22:42
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Yes, it is possible to remove the keys safely and clean them.

But first, it is important to know how it looks below the keycap in order to not damage anything:

  1. The key cap is attached to the mechanism by two claws and two hooks. the hooks (left side of the image) are at the bottom of the cap and they would break if you lever up the cap from there. The top side is held by claws (right side of the image) which can be unclipped.

Left side: Hooks at the bottom of the cap, which break if levered. Right side: Claws at the top of the cap, which can be unclipped.

  1. The butterfly mechanism has a round surface on both sides that touch the whole button cap. That is where the problem comes from: since there is a big contact area it can stick together easily (fluids) or become clogged. I actually spilled whine into my keyboard and many keys were affected, but I did not break a single one doing it as follows. You will have to lever the top side of this mechanism up, gently, to unattach the keycap.

'wings' of the mechanism, of which you will have to lever the top one up a bit in order to get under the rim of the cap.

So, just be careful and do exactly as described below!

  1. First, take a thin tool (a needle works fine, but I guess a thin plastic tool is better), squeeze it into the gap above the key and gently lever it up, until you can reach below the rim of the cap with a second tool or your fingernail.
  2. The first tool will likely be under the butterfly hinge which is why you have to release that one and make sure you are only just under the cap with the second one (short fingernail is the safest option). Now lever up (with the second one/your fingernail!) until it pops of with a slight clicking sound.
  3. Now you have to untangle the hooks at the bottom side. Hold up the top side just a bit and very gently wiggle the key around, left right up down, until it is loose. Do this really gently! It should not make a clicking sound or anything since it isn't really attached to the hinge!
  4. I mostly just cleaned the top side of the hinges with my finger or a soft cloth, but you can reach underneath the hinges, if necessary, with a fine brush.
  5. To reattach the keycap, slide the hooks underneath the cap back into place from bottom to top. Then press the key (slightly upwards, that is in the direction of the screen, so that the hooks stay in place) until the top clips back in again.

There you go.

  • 1
    Thanks for this details write-up! Looks like in my case the problem is with the butterfly mechanism itself. My left-arrow key is not clicking, and when i take both left and right arrow keys off in the way you described I can see that the left butterfly is not pressing upwards with the same springiness as the right. I'm going to try to carefully inspect how to dislodge or clear anything there, but if you have any more very helpful diagrams it could be a great resource for me or others with my same problem! – Andrew Schwartz Nov 27 '17 at 12:30
  • I had a similar problem. I had a fine brush from an electric shaver, which I wiggled around under the butterfly. It worked, but it really is tedious. – lthz Nov 27 '17 at 12:44
  • I accepted this answer, as it is a detailed write-up and answered my question. I did not however try it out on my own, so this check mark should not be confused with "this solved my problem". – lejonet Dec 9 '17 at 19:22
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    Okay good. Trying it out should be a personal decision and I think it is trivial to remind people that this is at their own risk. Apple is very happy to tell that to us anyway and the Internet is full of people reminding us of that. That is why I wrote it and that is why it’s good you accept the answer. – lthz Dec 9 '17 at 19:26
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    On the up/down arrow keys, which are oriented differently, which side are the clips and which side are hooks? – PBJ Apr 27 '18 at 22:55
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I had the same issue with a stuck / spongy Enter key, and after reading through this Reddit thread I just did what people were suggesting there – strongly blow air on it and keep on hammering the key at the same time – and it fixed the issue, they key is nice and clicky again!

  • Thank you for your answer. I tried it and it didn’t help me. (I felt somewhat stupid about having to do this to an expensive device like this after such a short period of time). Others may succeed in trying so. I will go to the Apple Store as soon as possible. – lejonet Mar 23 '17 at 22:13
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    Just sorted mine this way too, cheers. – steoleary Jul 10 '17 at 11:04
  • Unsticking Macbook keys is my anti-drug. – mpint Sep 13 '17 at 2:10
  • Damn, it worked! Thank you! I have the 2016 MBP with the Gen 2 Butterfly keyboard. Seems like this is susceptible for keys getting stuck more than the old keyboard. Never had this issue back then. – Yohan Liyanage Sep 19 '17 at 16:21
  • Thank you! 2017 MBP has too thin keys and this happens all the time. – Jefrey Sobreira Santos Jan 17 '18 at 6:10
6

I found a fix for the sticking spacebar - do not remove the key - it will easily break and you may not get it back on. take a bendable plastic card like an insurance card - stiffer than paper, and gently lift up on the key until you see some space underneath it. Then use a can of air (found at hardward store - get the one that has a straw on it) spray air under the key and then lift the key in a different area and blow under it again until you have cleaned the whole thing, It should work after that. Mine did.

3

Be aware that damage to the keyboard trying to fix it, should be the last option as this will void any warranty.

It can be handed in to your local Apple for a review or follow Apple's own guide for removing dirt under your Macbook.

See here.: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205662

  • Thanks for your answer. I assume there is dirt that can't be handled this way. (As this kind of dirt never occurred to me in two decades of owning notebooks before, it seems to be a keyboard mechanism issue.) – lejonet Jun 25 '17 at 16:08

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