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The Key to a Great Laptop: Fixing Your Macbook Keyboard

written by: Austin•edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 6/17/2011

So, something is wrong with the keyboard on your Macbook. Either it needs a little cleaning, needs to be replaced, or you need to remove it for some other reason. Chances are you have no idea how, but thankfully I'm here to guide you. Here's a step by step guide on fixing it.

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    Step 0) Disclaimer

    When removing the top case (the thing that holds your keyboard) from a laptop, the steps are relatively the same whether you're using a Macbook, Macbook Pro, or iBook. That being said, I advise you to use your own judgment when deciding how much of each step applies to your particular computer. This guide is personally written for the common white Macbook Pro dualcore computer, and while many of the steps apply across the board, there will be instances where you find that the number of screws or latches differs from my computer to yours. In cases like these, just use your best judgment. I'll write the guide in a way so that it applies universally, but please understand that not everything is perfect for every computer.

    (Note: Opening a Macbook that is still under warranty will possibly void your warranty.)

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    Step 1) Gather Your Materials

    If you want to undertake this job on your own (which isn't really that hard, so I encourage you to), you'll need a few things:

    - Phillips #00 (double zero) screwdriver

    - Plastic spudger

    - Screw tray (not necessary, but helpful)

    - Possibly a coin, such as a quarter

    After you've gotten all of these things together, you're good to go. Feel free to delve into the guide at your leisure.

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    Step 2) Put That Coin To Good Use


    As it turns out, coins really aren't that useful for buying things in a world where everyone just uses credit and debit cards anyway. Short of buying a lot of gumballs and bus fare to get to the grocery store to buy more gumballs, you really can't find a great use for a quarter anymore. But wait, there is one more thing you can do with them!

    Flip your Macbook over, and look for the battery locking mechanism, which will look something like a circle with an indent going across it. Take your quarter, insert it into the locking indent, and turn it from locked to unlocked. The battery should easily pop out now.

    Pretty nifty use for a quarter, eh?

    (Newer Macbook Pro users, you won't need to do this step. Instead, simply unscrew all the screws on the back case and take it off to view the insides of the computer)

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    Step 3) Start Unscrewing Things

    After you've removed the battery, you should see the inside of your computer and part of it will be lined with a metal casing. This is the barrier that protects the memory sticks from over heating and other physical damage due to close proximity with the battery. The first thing you need to do is take out the screws that are attached to this metal casing and remove it carefully. It's not remarkably fragile, but you definitely don't want to damage it in a way that makes it unusable.

    Set the casing aside as soon as it's removed and look around for all the screws (some external, some internal) that are holding the top case in. On the 13" Macbook that I'll be taking apart, there are 10 screws on the inside where the battery was lining the outside wall. Of these, you need to remove (from the left) the 2nd, 4th, 7th, and 9th. Then, unscrew the four screws located below the back of the monitor. After you get those out, you can also unscrew the three larger screws located on the bottom of your Macbook and set those aside, followed by the two screws on the side of the disk drive and the two outer screws where the battery was located.

    Again, if you're using another kind of Macbook, it shouldn't be too hard to discern which screws are attached to the top case. Just use your best judgment, or look in the manual.

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    Step 4) Spudge the Keyboard Out


    Next, take your spudger and gently slide it in between the top case and the rest of the Macbook, using it as a sort of plastic crowbar to leverage the keyboard out of its position. If you encounter resistance, check to see that all the screws have been removed. If you are unsure whether you got all the screws or it looks like there is one holding down the top case, feel free to take out more screws than I went over in this guide; just remember where they go for when you put everything back together!

    After you get the top out, do not pull on it. It's connected to the internal parts via a short cable that you can disconnect using the spudger, but make sure you disconnect it at the computer end- not the end connected to the top case.

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    Step 5) Clean, Replace, Remove, etc

    Now that your keyboard is out, you're free to clean the keys, replace the whole keyboard, replace individual keys, or do pretty much anything else until your hearts content. Putting it back together is as simple as following all the steps in this guide backwards, so if you're having trouble just refer back to it!

    If you're stuck on anything or have questions, feel free to post a comment and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

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    All information came from prior author knowledge on the subject and from here.

    Images came from here and here.