Fixing broken key on apple aluminum keyboard?


I bought myself an apple aluminum keyboard a while ago, it worked perfectly until a few days ago. I noticed the w key was a bit sticky, so i took it apart (with a paper clip) and messed around with it until it unstuck. now the key will not work at all (actually if i plug in the keyboard and hit w it gives me a string of w's until i hit backspace, but i hit it after that and it will not work.  the inside of the key assembly is a bit scratched (i used a metal clip, not plastic coated, and i was getting frustrated) so idk if that is it. it clicks responsibly just like the other keys now, but it felt like there as something underneath before i took it apart. getting rather sick of copy pasting w in  :(

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orksecurity7 years ago
Sounds like something is mechanically sticking. Hard to say what except by disassembling it again and looking at it. I don't use Apples, so I'm not sure which flavor of key mechanism they're using.
As Ork said, it sounds as though there's still sodapop, coffee, or whatever other sticky goo got spilled still interfering with release of the key.

Time to either crack it back open for a second look or send off to your Apple repair facility.
astroboy907 (author)  seandogue7 years ago
looked at it. Found a small rip on the little rubber cup that i think connects the conductive membrane to the keyboard "motherboard". i do not see how that would have any effect on it though. Never spilled anything much on this keyboard, all keys working fine except for that one, and it was just sticky. (Looked at it before, i think the little key holders that push the key back into the up position were stuck, not any residue or anything in the key.) I jiggled a paper clip on the key holders, and got them to go into the down position, then i put the key back on. Plugged it in (didnt hit anything though) and it gave me a string of w's. would still be giving me that string if i didnt stop it. Once i stop it, then the key is unresponsive,

Its not under warranty anymore (or at least i highly, highly doubt it), so idk if you can send it in or not. Bought it for a steal at overstock.com a while ago....
Do you want pics?
Actually, that tiny rip can make all the difference in the world.

I spent seven years supporting industrial applications, and one of the common repairs we'd have to make on our very expensive industrial keyboards was replacement of the silicon cups under each key (Certain keys were more likely to fail because of consistent usage patterns). Once the cups are compromised, (I'd say a rip is a good example of a compromised cup) they often don't contact properly or stick in one or the other position.

No need for pics, I think we're in agreement overall as to what's going on.

Here's what I'll suggest. Call or write (I'd call) Apple and ask if they have replacement membranes, and or how the issue can be resolved, since you are a faithful Apple lover and don't want to become one of those evil Wintel guys out of spite and just know they can help you...;-) .

Don't be surprised if they ask for you to send it back for repair. Sorry to say, although it's possible that the keyboard has individual cups and Apple will issue one or more, a field repair like what I was able to do with industrial keyboards (costing about $700 each, btw) will be unlikely due to the basic nature of consumer level products, even the nice ones (I own a ~$250 Logitech wireless keyboard that had a vaguely similar problem and the best they could offer was a discount on a new keyboard...).

Actually, laptopkey.com will sell you a new key, scissor and silicone rubber cup for a key for US $5.95. I think replacementlaptopkeys.com has these, too, for a bit less.

My 'e' key is currently doing this, and I've ordered a replacement.

You might also be able to repair the cup. I've read that you can get a toothpick, some silicone glue, dab a bit of glue on the toothpick and then dab a few *tiny* spots of glue on the cup. I haven't tried that myself yet, but will later today. Just be careful not to get glue on the stick coming up from the keyboard.

Actually, it's been four years since I wrote that response. I'm sure solutions have been put in place since.

Also, you may have discovered why this keyboard was being discounted...
Could be. They may have had a mfg flaw in the molds for the cups or a "chemistry" issue that caused them to fail prematurely.
astroboy907 (author)  seandogue6 years ago
i dont think it was because of that. i think they just had some stock left and wanted to get rid of it :) worked pretty fine until that key (and me taking it apart) i think i found a replacement key on ebay that sells the rubber cup too. think i will just get that. thanks