Check out the letter "A" in the image. Why is it smudging / wearing off?

MacBook Pro keyboard

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    Take a black Sharpie and carefully color in the missing black, or take it to an Apple store and see if one of the geniuses can replace just that key without having to replace the entire keyboard. – user3439894 Dec 27 '19 at 20:40
  • Tried the Sharpie trick - not perfect, but definitely made an improvement. I'll see how long it takes for the Sharpie ink to wear off. – user249493 Dec 28 '19 at 21:07
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    I think most of the answers are missing the point of this question. I came here because I'm wondering why my NEW laptop (9 months old) has the same issue and my old mac laptop (6 years old) looks perfect. Clearly the 'quality' of the new keyboards is questionable on several different dimensions. – Briford Wylie May 14 at 17:09

The keys on Apple's laptops are translucent, with black paint applied. The letter is 'reversed out' of the black paint. That's so the backlight can shine through the letters. So it's not white paint smudging, but the black paint wearing out.

Those keys are pressed millions of times. And each press involve some degree of friction, which means the removal of matter. The sweat from your fingers is slightly acidic; and who knows what other oils and particles might get transferred from your sandwich. It's possible - or even likely - that a laptop keyboard might get other 'matter' spilt or splashed onto it.

Any or all of these things might act as a combination of solvent and abrasive.

Obviously, the designers know this, and try to make a keyboard whose paint will resist the rigours of a lifetime's use. However, nothing is impervious. How old is your Mac?

As to why this key and no others? A is certainly a key that's going to get more finger-rest and usage than others. It's just the perfect storm of the right amount of wear with a particular mix of particles and chemicals.

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    I didn't realize it was the black wearing out and not the white smudging! This happened on a previous MacBook Pro that I owned and the current one, which I've had only about a year. Prior to "going Mac", I had Dell laptops with keyboards that did NOT do this. It's sad that a $3,000+ laptop can't use a keyboard that keeps its letters "crisp". – user249493 Dec 26 '19 at 14:52
  • It's worth also saying that there are plenty of people who have not had this experience - and you can probably find some Dell users who have had similar. You may want to be a bit more defensive about what gets spilt on it and how often you clean it. – benwiggy Dec 26 '19 at 14:59
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    It's happening on my shift key and the command key as well... – Solar Mike Dec 26 '19 at 15:06
  • I’ve seen cases where fingernail friction causes this wear in the key particularly the way the pinky finger rests on the A and ; keys. – bjbk Dec 26 '19 at 15:13

⤅ +25y ⤅

True! No real answer but easy to understand...

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Seen this on many keyboards of many manufacturers - it’s about how you “hit” the keys...

With a slight sliding action you will eventually wear away the material.

You could use a keyboard cover to protect the keys from further wear, but some say they don’t like the different feel - that’s a choice to make.

And, you are not alone - been happening on mine as well... As in the shift key and the command key.

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  • I've owned laptops that don't lose their lettering even over 5-7 years of constant usage. it's a choice in keyboard design how easily the lettering comes off. – gman Dec 26 '19 at 3:49
  • Some degree of sideways motion is inevitable. I've never seen this problem across several Mac laptops over 18 years. I'd suggest other environmental factors are the biggest factor. – benwiggy Dec 26 '19 at 15:04
  • I have this exact same key, 'A', with this problem on my 2015 MBP and my 2017 MBP, but my 2012 MBP is just fine after twice the amount of use. Apple quality fail. – Richard Brightwell Sep 20 at 4:21

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