How to Repair Sticky Keys on a MacBook

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How to Repair Sticky Keys on a MacBook
How to Repair Sticky Keys on a MacBook

You may have sticky keys if you’ve suddenly discovered that your MacBook keys are difficult to press and don’t perform properly while typing.

A spilled drink, food crumbs, or just dust might be the culprit, but don’t worry: there are three things you can do right now to remedy it.

What Are Sticky Keys?

If you’ve ever eaten at your work or drank coffee next to your laptop, you’ve probably spilled something on it. Even if you immediately wipe it away, it may leave a sticky residue on your keys. If this happens, your keys may feel crunchy or spongy when you push down on them, making it very difficult to write smoothly.

There is also a Windows sticky key feature that you may be familiar with, but that is not what we are discussing here.

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You may have also heard of Apple’s replacement keyboard initiative. This addresses a distinct hardware problem that causes keyboard characters to repeat or not show at all. Whether you feel that’s the case, you may check the Apple website to see if you’re eligible.

If, on the other hand, you know your keyboard has a buildup of dirt, crumbs, or grime and want to know how to clean sticky keyboard keys, you’ve come to the correct spot.

How to Fix Sticky Keys

  • Spudger tool
  • Using rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)
  • Compressed air
  • Cotton swabs
  • Toothpick
  • Paper towel
  • Dish soap

Option 1: Cleaning the Surface

Start by wiping around each damaged key with a cotton swab and rubbing alcohol if you want to know how to clean a sticky keyboard with the least amount of work. You may discover that eliminating any surface-level crumbs or debris can cure your sticky keyboard issue fast and with the least amount of work.

1. Completely turn off your MacBook.

  • Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen. Make sure your MacBook is not hooked into a charger.
  • Select Shut Down
  • Check that it is not oozing with fluids.

2. Remove any big particles of dirt from around the keycap using a toothpick.

3. Dip a cotton swab into the rubbing alcohol.

  • Never put water directly on your MacBook since it might harm the components. This will aid in the removal of any sticky residue, filth, or dirt build-up.
  • Keep in mind that using rubbing alcohol to clean the top of keycaps may destroy any protective coating that has been placed.
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4. Use the cotton swab to wipe around the affected key.

  • Continue to the following option if they are still sticking.
  • Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen. Make sure your MacBook is not hooked into a charger.

5. Test your keys.

  • You want to have your MacBook at a small angle; you can assist by holding it against a wall. Keep the can at the distance specified on the box.

Option 2: Using Compressed Air

Another simple technique is to use compressed air to clear off any dirt, dust, or crumbs from your keyboard’s sticky keys.

1. Completely turn off your MacBook.

  • If they remain stuck, go to the following option.
  • Select Shut Down
  • Click the Apple icon in the upper left corner of the screen. Make sure your MacBook is not hooked into a charger. Scissor switches and butterfly switches are the two sorts.

2. Position your MacBook vertically.

  • Scissor switches are raised from the bottom, while butterfly switches are lifted from the top.

3. Spray the keys with compressed air.

  • Use a left to right motion.
  • In this YouTube video, you can see that the switches on this 2014 MacBook Air are raised from the bottom.

4. Rotate the MacBook to the right and repeat step 3.

5. Rotate the MacBook to the left and repeat step 3.

6. Test your keys.

  • This YouTube video shows the keycaps of the MacBook Pro (2016-2018) lifting from the top.

Option 3: Removing the Keycaps

If wiping the surface of the keys does not resolve the issue, you may need to clean beneath the keycaps themselves. However, proceed with caution: attempting to remove keys on a MacBook may easily destroy the key mechanism.

Later MacBook Pros with butterfly key switches are infamous for being very flimsy and easily damaged. Earlier MacBook models have a scissor-switch mechanism, which is somewhat more robust but still requires caution.

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In any case, assess your ability level before proceeding. Read through all of the steps first, and if you are unsure about following these directions, you might ask a friend to assist you instead.

1. Completely turn off your MacBook.

  • Using the spudger tool, pry under one corner and gently raise until you hear a click.
  • Select Shut Down
  • Do not discard your spudger tool just yet.

2. Find out what type of keyboard you have.

  • Lift from the upper left or right corner if you have the butterfly key switches. Lift from the bottom left or right corner if you have scissor key switches.
  • Special keys, such as Shift and arrow keys, have hooks at slightly different locations. To learn more, watch the videos in step 2.
  • If you raised the left corner first, go to the right sideways (and vice versa).
  • Be cautious not to raise the whole key at this stage since it will still be secured by hooks. Do this without raising the key any higher. Stop if you encounter any opposition.

3. Use the spudger tool to lift one key corner.

  • Approach the key and peek below to discover the hooks.
  • Gently wiggle the key to see where it is connected. Allow the keycaps to soak while you clean the keyboard.
  • Wipe the area under the keycap with a cotton swab moistened in rubbing alcohol.
  • Check to see whether the cotton change is oozing liquid.

4. Move the spudger sideways slowly until you hear a second click.

  • Cleaning the surface with clean cotton swabs a few times can assist you prevent having to repeat the operation later.
  • Gently wipe the keycap with a cotton swab and soapy water.

5. Carefully unhook the keycap.

  • Completely dry the keycap with a paper towel.
  • Repeat the removal of the keycap procedures in reverse.
  • To begin, insert the keycap into the hooks.

6. Place the keycaps in a bowl with soapy water.

  • Apply gentle pressure to the remaining corners. Once they’re in position, you’ll hear a click.

7. Clean underneath the keycap.

  • You shouldn’t have to force it on, so go back to the hooks if you think it’s not working.
  • Keep in mind that certain keys, such as the letters H and I, have a proper up/down orientation. Look behind the top to find the hooks. If the problem was caused by dirt, dust, or spilt liquid, your cleaning efforts should have resolved it!
  • Cleaning the surface a few times with clean cotton swabs will help avoid having to repeat the process later.
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8. Clean the keycaps soaking in water.

  • Using a cotton swab, gently clean the keycap using soapy water.
  • Use a paper towel to dry the keycap completely.

9. Replace the keycap.

  • Follow the same steps for removing the keycap but in reverse.
  • Start by sliding the keycap into the hooks.
  • Next, gently put pressure on the remaining corners. You will hear a click once they are in place.
  • You shouldn’t need to force it on, so start over with the hooks if you suspect it’s not working.
  • Note: be careful replacing keys like the letters H and I as they do have a correct up/down orientation. Look underneath the cap to see where the hooks are.

10. Test your keys.

  • If the problem was due to dirt, dust, or spilt liquid, then your cleaning efforts should have solved the issue!

No More Sticky MacBook Keys

You should know precisely how to clear stuck keyboard keys on your MacBook at the conclusion of this lesson. With a little caution, these approaches may be performed at home using inexpensive and readily available instruments.

In the future, we should all attempt to conduct some minor cleaning on a regular basis to keep our keyboards clean. If not, don’t worry: you can always come back here if you need to thoroughly clean your keycaps.

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