Apple is finally taking some responsibility for the troubles assailing some MacBook and MacBook Pro owners with broken keyboards.
The company’s new “keyboard service program” pledges to replace individual keys and — whenever it’s necessary — entire keyboards on certain, more recent MacBook models. Although it’s not outright stated, the move almost certainly stems from troubles Apple has faced over a new keyboard design that was first introduced in 2015.
In its never-ending quest to deliver the thinnest possible laptop, Apple completely redesigned the MacBook keyboard in a 12-inch model that launched in 2015. The larger keys had less travel, and responded to light taps thanks to each key’s fragile “butterfly switches.”
While some embraced the alteration, which did indeed lead to a thinner laptop, there are those PC users that prefer the satisfying click of a mechanical keyboard. But the real trouble began when post-2015 MacBook users started running into technical issues.
Sometimes, keys would stop working completely; other times, too many characters would appear with each key press. An AppleInsider investigation published in April 2018 noted that MacBook Pro keyboard failures were happening roughly twice as often as they were in older models. (The investigation also noted that the 2017 model “is better, but not by much.”)
Just a couple weeks later, unhappy customers banded together to hit Apple with a class-action lawsuit over what the filing described as “defective” keyboards. It’s not clear how much of an impact all of this had on Apple’s decision to launch a repair program. Probably at least a little.
MacBook and MacBook Pro owners dealing with issues — which include, per Apple, “letters or characters repeat unexpectedly,” “letters or characters do not appear,” and “key(s) feel ‘sticky’ or do not respond in a consistent manner” — should reach out to Apple or an authorized service provider to make an appointment.
“The type of service will be determined after the keyboard is examined and may involve the replacement of one or more keys or the whole keyboard,” Apple notes. If any keyboard repairs are necessary, they’ll be provided at no cost. Though you might face some charges if your laptop is damaged in some other way to the point that it interferes with keyboard repairs.
Here’s a list of Apple-approved MacBook/MacBook Pro models covered under the service program:
MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)
MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2016)
MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, 2017)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)
Apple says it right there, at the end of this list: “No other Mac notebook models are part of this program.” Anyone who might have already paid for a repair that would now be covered for free can contact Apple about getting a refund.