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Replacing Keys on a Macbook Pro or other Mac

The keys on an Apple Macbook Pro are a complex design and use very brittle plastic clips. In use they are fine but when pulling them off and reattaching them they are quite delicate.
Each key has underneath it a plastic clip that consists of two pieces that work like a hinge with the pivot point in the centre, sort of like scissors. The space bar has three of these.
The bottom half (as viewed as it would be in place under the key) is attached by the bar across the bottom and the top half by two little pegs that protrude either side. If it is attached to the key you're trying to re-attach, as opposed to the keyboard body itself, gently, and I do mean gently, pull it off. You can try pushing the top protuberances with a pin to unlatch them, or just pull it straight off. If it breaks you're going to need to buy a new one - they are available individually from third party suppliers.

Attach them to the keyboard by first leaning it forward so that the lower half is closer to the computer than the top half. Hook the lower bar underneath the metal catch, then lean the clip back so it's parallel to the main body of the keyboard. Engage the plastic pegs at the top - as with removal you can try a pin or just gentle pressure with your finger until they click very lightly in to place.

For keys that don't have multiple clips (i.e. all the normal keys) you reattach the keycap itself by placing the key accurately on top of the clip and pushing down quite firmly. As long as the position is right it shouldn't break even if you push it quite hard, as you'll need to in order for it to properly engage. Judge the correct spacing by looking at the gap around the key concerned and checking it's the same as the others.

The space is much more difficult. If you've done it a few times you might be able to reattach it without removing other keys first, but you should probably remove the C, the M and the two Apple/CMD keys. This gives you more room to work and see what you're doing. Gently pull them off by putting your fingernail under the top of the key and pulling it up. Once the top is off the rest of the key will pop right off.

First you need to get it the right way round. It has two metal bars. At this point, pre-key attachment, they should be fitted to the keycap, not the keyboard. They are clipped in to the underside of the key and should be perfectly centred so that the ends are equidistant from the ends of the keycap. The one with a single 90 degree bend at each end goes at the bottom, closest to the trackpad. The one with two 180 degree bends at each end goes at the top. Engaging them both is the tricky part.

Start by angling the lower metal bar so that you can push the ends of it in to the metal tabs on the keyboard. To do this you'll be lowering the bottom long edge of the space bar first, leaving the top edge a greater distance from the keyboard. The bars actually end up only slightly inside the tabs, but start with them pushed in a reasonable distance so they don't slip out. Now you have to lower the top edge of the space bar to bring the top metal bar down towards the keyboard. The idea is that the bent metal ends go down and fold themselves underneath the tabs.

It will seem impossible at first, unless you're really lucky. As you lower the top edge the bottom bar is likely to come out. Then just as you lower it the perfect amount you find the bar has rotated so that the ends aren't in sight to go under the clips. Use a pin or very fine screwdriver to push the rod ends so that they're at the right angle to slide under the clips. Do one side first, then keep some pressure on the space key on that side as you do the other side.

This should help with orientation:


Once the bars seem engaged double check that they really are - the key won't feel firm yet, but you should be able to see under each side, because you removed the Apple keys, that they are in place. Now simply push down quite firmly on the space bar, once above the approximate position of each white clip. Do one end first, then the other end, then the middle. Each will have a definite click. Once all three are done, replace the other keys as described above.
Tagged: macbook | mbp | apple | keys