Apple's MacBook and MacBook Pro use a custom keyboard design. Sometimes, dust or other small particles can get stuck under the spacebar and make it unresponsive. Apple's recommended fix is to basically turn the entire keyboard nearly vertical and blast it with air until the particle eventually falls out. New Apple laptops released in the past two years have a keyboard design that enables the laptops to be thinner than ever with larger keys than before.
However, people are starting to report one specific problem with the new MacBook keyboard design.
Sometimes, the space bar feels like there's something stuck under it, and it won't click or register a space. It feels different from the other keys.
At least, that's how it sometimes feels on my new MacBook Pro. I've wondered if a single poppy seed got stuck under my space bar.
Here's how The Outline described the problem in a post that kicked off a wave of people saying that they have the problem too:
"A piece of dust is capable of rendering a butterfly switch nonfunctional. The key won't click, and it won’t register whatever command it’s supposed to be typing. It’s effectively dead until someone can either shake loose the debris trapped under it or blow at the upside-down keyboard Nintendo-cartridge style."
There's even a parody song about the problem:
Apple's solution is absurd
Of course, lots of computers have problems. Other non-Apple keyboards can have issues, too. In many cases, people with the most basic computer fixing skills can pop a traditional key off a keyboard to solve the issue.
Not so with Apple's new "butterfly keyboard" on the MacBook and MacBook Pro. It feels like if you remove a key, you'll break the keyboard forever.
Apple recommends you take your laptop — some models cost thousands of dollars, mind you — turn it nearly vertical, and then make three passes with a can of compressed air.
I tried this, and it didn't fix the problem. I have no idea how big the particle is that's under my space bar that's causing the problem — and I did feel pretty silly holding my laptop like that.
So now, according to Apple, my only option is to visit an Apple store or authorized service provider, which, as The Outline reported, could decide the fix is to charge me hundreds of dollars and replace the computer's entire "top case." Or, I could keep mashing the space bar and hope the problem works itself out, saving myself money, time, and the possibility that I have to send my expensive laptop away for service.
Apple's designs can be beautiful, and its network of stores makes getting quality service for a computer easy. I certainly don't have the expertise to fix most problems with Apple products, and I like how thin my new MacBook Pro is. Still, this is a frustrating problem because a keyboard is the kind of physical interface that you would think requires just a small fix. Keyboards are touched by human fingers all the time.
I hope that when Apple redesigns its keyboard once again, it will include user repair as a design priority.
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