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I've been using a MacBook Pro (ordered in Q4/2019) for about 6-7 months now, and one of the keys (cursor-down) is often reacting sluggishly - I have to press it much with much mor force than normal. The key shares the cursor-up function, and that side is totally trouble free.

Is there a safe way to release the key cap to check if it's just a matter of cleaning a speck of dust that may have gone down there? I have found videos that show how to remove a regular key, but don't want to risk destroying the presumably tiny plastic piece on the double-function key...

Also, is this keyboard known for being problematic in this way?

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This sounds like a typical symptom of the butterfly keyboard.

  • your Mac is less than a year old and should be covered under nornal warranty.
  • It may be covered under the Keyboard Service Program

Both the 13” and 15” MacBook Pro laptops are covered under the program. I wouldn’t attempt a fix as any damage may nullify your coverage. Just take it in.

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  • Thank you. I've got a date with a local Apple dealer. I've gone down the rabbit hole and read a lot about the issue. Tough luck, looks like... – AnoE Jul 21 '20 at 14:41
  • Unfortunately, yes. It's good that it's covered, but they take days to replace it and don't provide loaners. They could learn a bunch from Dell where they send techs out to your house and fix things in a day (if you buy Dell's equivalent of AppleCare). – Allan Jul 21 '20 at 14:43
  • Days? Wow. Do you know whether they do more than just lift the keycap and clean up under there? Well, I'll see what my experiences will be. – AnoE Jul 21 '20 at 15:40
  • I would go for the full replacement. Why? If a spec of dust causes that type of issue, you definitely want a new keyboard. Second, they don't just replace the keyboard - you get a whole new top case which includes the track pad and the battery. So, with the exception of the logic board and display, you're getting a new computer. But yeah...unfortunately Apple takes days. There are times owning an Apple is like owning a Jaguar - you need two...one to drive while the other is in the shop. – Allan Jul 21 '20 at 15:53
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Self-answer: as suggested by @Allan, if in any doubt, and especially if you still are in the warranty time, the best choice would be to contact your dealer.

Apple suggests to clean the keyboard with compressed air. I did that to no avail, and also gave the whole keyboard a tender scrubbing with a (dedicated, clean) toothbrush. This didn't help either.

On the next day, the key decided to get completely stuck in the "pressed" position, and I simply had no time to go to my dealer. I decided to gently lift it with the help of a thin, sharp tool. The lower part of the key (the split cursor up/down key) came off just fine. Below that there was the usual butterfly construction. It is delicate; there is a tiny strip of plastic which is not really attached to anything; don't blow on it or it will fly away.

I gave it a very tiny airstream to get away any specks of dust, and just put the key on again. Lo and behold, it is now unstuck, and also my original problem of not registering the keypress in 50% of activations is gone.

If you google, you quickly find videos about how to disassemble and clean the butterfly mechanism itself, but I did not need to do that. The "half" key looks just like the regular keys, just literally split in half; it is not any more complicated.

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