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Paul
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MacBook 2010 'Option' key not working

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Hi All,

Great site and first time to post! My left sided 'option' key on my mid 2010 15" MacBook Pro is not responding. The right one works fine as do all other keys. I have Mavericks installed.

Is there anyway to fix this by myself as I can't quite afford to go the Genius Bar this month for a repair!

Am I looking at an entire keyboard replacement?

Any help or advice is appreciated!

Edited by: Walter Galan ( ) , Paul ( )

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LikeARabbit
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Funny, I just replied at Stack Exchange as well..

Try this...

Power on your Mac while holding the option key on your keyboard. If done correctly, and assuming a firmware password is not set, you should see your internal hard drive show up on the display. If you DO have a firmware password set then you will be prompted to enter the password before moving on. This is just to verify what you should see. This basically tests the option key at the most basic hardware level before the OS is loaded.

If you don't see these screens then your key is likely failed at the hardware level. If this is the case then you have to replace the entire top case since the keyboard is built into this component. If the key had popped off you could replace just the key but any sort of functional (non cosmetic) repair requires the keyboard be replaced. The repair for this isn't terribly difficult although it is somewhat involved since the top case is basically the chassis that everything bolts to, meaning you have to tear the MacBook Pro down completely in the process. iFixit has a great guide (and possibly a replacement part) that shows the process.

If you see what I describe above then your key is functioning properly at the hardware level and the issue instead rests somewhere in your operating system. To narrow down the issue I would create a test user account (or just enable and login to the Guest user) to see if the issue persisted when logged in as the test user. If the issue persists for the test user then it's a system wide issue, if it doesn't then it's something in your ~/Library folder. If that didn't do the trick I would use Disk Utility to repair permissions, verify and repair the disk. If need be I would reinstall the operating system, without first erasing the disk assuming you have data you'd like to preserve.

Hopefully that puts you in the right direction, good luck!

Edited by: LikeARabbit ( )

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Oli
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It sound like a keyboard fault as if it was anything else then other keys would probably be affected. You could try use keyboard cleaner on it but it would be very hard as the keyboard can't easily be separated from the top case. If you can reseat the ribbon cable as it may have come out partly but it is unlikely. You should boot into safe mode to check its a hardware issue and not a software one as it may save you from having to open up your computer.

Thanks for getting back to me. Does anyone else think that just that key could be defective. I have used the 'Keyboard Viewer', and the key does not respond. I know its 'now long is piece of string' question but do youthink theres a chance it could be the key and not the sensor? Is it hard to take of a dmaged key of a keyboard?

Paul,

@Paul - If it's truly broken at a hardware level then it's either the sensor or something further in the hardware chain. The key is basically designed like this - Key cap (the physical key), scissor mechanism (keeps the key in place), rubber nipple (provides resistance for movement and the contact for the sensor when pressed), sensor (detects contact from the rubber nipples when the key is pressed down. With this in mind the key COULD be missing the rubber nipple, which can be replaced if you find a spare from a scrap keyboard, but you would almost certainly know it's missing as the key wouldn't pop back up.

LikeARabbit,

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Paul
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Hi A Rabbit,

Many thanks for your detailed response. I have done what you suggested and unfortunately it does seem to be a hardware issue. And the cost of getting it replaced by a professional is mind boggling. I would try and do it myself but the fear factor that I would make the problems worse is putting me of.

Again many thanks.

Paul

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