Apple’s 2017 range of MacBook Pros has sold really well, despite the strangeness of only having USB-C ports and no magnetic charger. Not only were these notebooks a big departure from the established MacBook Pro design with the inclusion of the touch bar display, they also came with a new keyboard design with Apple’s custom butterfly switches which allowed for a much lower profile, previously seen in the 2015 MacBook. As exotic as these keyboards are, they are not without their compromises, and one of those is a big dip in reliability. Over the last year consumers have complained about Apple’s butterfly keyboard and the issues range from “sticky” keys to units that just fail for no apparent reason. Apple now says they’re initiating a program to fix these issues for consumers at the storefront level, but it could be too late to reverse the stigma now attached to the butterfly switches.

According to Apple, the range of issues customers need to be experiencing with their unit must fall under these three symptoms to receive support:

  • Letters or characters repeat unexpectedly
  • Letters or characters do not appear
  • Key(s) feel “sticky” or do not respond in a consistent manner

For the most part, you can get around these issues by using a can of compressed air to clear out the keys from any dust or debris that might fall in between the keys and the chassis, but sometimes this doesn’t help if anything gets trapped underneath the switch itself. Fixing that requires taking the notebook apart, and the keyboard is riveted into the chassis. It can become a very expensive, and needlessly complicated affair.

To qualify for the free replacement program, you need to have one of the following model MacBooks:

  • 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)

If you’re suffering from issues with your keyboard on your MacBook or MacBook Pro, you are eligible to take your unit in to an Apple Store and have it replaced. Because of how Apple builds these keyboards, older units like the 2015 MacBook might have stock issues because both the keyboard and the chassis needs to be replaced, and local stores like iStore run by Core Group and Digicape won’t necessarily have stock on hand for those models.

I also phoned the local Apple support this afternoon, and was told that all local stores authorised to carry out Apple repairs will be able to do these repairs starting this week. However, because of the widely reported issues, it is possible that any owners of a MacBook or MacBook Pro with a butterfly switch will have to go through this process more than once to find a unit that isn’t faulty or has similar issues.

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