MacBook Pro 15" Retina Display Mid 2012

2.3GHz, 2.6GHz, or 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.7GHz) with 6MB shared L3 cache.

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Replacing only the keyboard without full Topcase

Hello,

I´ve poured some coffee over my MacBook Pro 15" Retina Mid 2012 and now some keys of the Keyboard are not working anymore. The rest still works fine.

I just wanted to ask, if it is possible to replace just the Keyboard itself without replacing the whole TopCase ?

Best regards and thanks in advance.

Tom

Answer this question I have this problem too

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Sorry Tom no dice ;-{

The keyboard is riveted to the top case.

Depending on how much coffee you spilled in and what you had in it (Cream and/or Sugar) you could try popping the key caps off and carefully blot up the spillage up with swabs and using distilled water (not tap!) wipe the areas down to dissolve and remove the water soluble elements and neutralize the acids. Coffee & cream will also need to be cleaned out with a good quality Isopropyl alcohol (reagent grade is the best) as the fats in them will need to be dissolved and removed. Isopropyl alcohol also is a great dryer as well to remove some of the water from within the coffee and what you needed to clean up the sugar afterwards.

If this fails to fix things then you'll need to take the top case off and remove as much stuff off as you can (key caps etc...) and with distilled water wash the keyboard area down to help control things I use a large medical syringe (no needle) to control where I bathe and control the run off as you don't want water every where. After I do the water treatment on the effected areas I try to shake out as much water as I can then I repeat the process this time with Isopropyl alcohol to remove the fats and to help speed up the drying of the water. I still let the cover dry out a good day or two where the sun warms it by my window before putting it back together.

It's still a 50-50% chance recovery, sometimes Is till can't get a key or two working at which point I try again or I just replace the top cover.

The trick here is time, the longer one waits to address the spillage the more damage could be happening not just within the top cover, your main logic board and battery could be wet as well - Tick - Tock!

As I'm paid by a company I have a bit more latitude on trying extreme repairs like this. You may want to see if an independent Apple Authorized repair center can help you (Apple won't service you - in their eyes it's water damaged). The independent may just tell you they will only replace the top cover and may refuse the repair if the coffee has gotten into the logic bd and battery.

Good Luck!

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Just completed replacing the keyboard on the 15" Retina MBP (A1398, late 2012, early 2013). I found this article to be quite helpful. A few extra notes I thought I'd add;

1. I found the keyboard and screws on eBay, the screws are the standard PH #000 screws that are used in the unibody MBP. You'll need 101 new screws for the 15" Retina MBP after all the rivets are removed.

2. Don't try to take the battery out, it can stay where it is, it's glued in and it isn't at all fun to remove.

3. There are two black PH #000 screws at the bottom of the keyboard, one on each side of the ribbon cable (under the battery connections). You'll have to remove them before you take the keyboard out. Those 2 plus the new 101 screws, make for a total of 103 screws.

4. Make sure you completely remove the display, when you take out the keyboard and all the rivets come flying out, it's very easy to get parts of the rivets/metal shavings on the display (when the display is closed it's right under the keyboard). Wouldn't want any scratches on that perfect retina image!

5. After you've completely removed the keyboard, you'll find that some of the rivets were stuck in the holes where the screws will go, and the rivet head is now missing. You'll want to remove as many as you possibly can, or the keyboard will give a little in the places where you can't screw it in.

I laid the top palm rest face down on a flat surface and used a flat head screw driver and hammer (angled the flat head @ ~45 degrees against each rivet) and just hard enough gave it a nice tap. This caused the remaining part of the rivet to pop out of the hole. I was able to get all but 8 of them out by doing this method. Those remaining 8 simply sheered the top of the rivet off.

You'll want to be very very careful if you do this (you were warned!), the parts that separate the keys aren't too fragile, but you wouldn't want to have any dents or stress marks appear on the visual side, it helps if you clamp the top rest down so it doesn't move on you.

6. For the remaining rivets, I used a drill press and a 1/32" drill bit to drill the remaining rivets out. The drill bit is just smaller than the holes the screws go into, so I had to be careful not to allow the bit to move at all or the hole would be too big for the screw.

I first tried a hand drill but it was way to hard to keep the tiny drill bit in place and I ended up /w 1 hole that was too big to screw into.

The actual tool I used was the Dremel 8100 and the Dremel drill press station, together @ Home Depot with the drill bits and chuck, are less than $160 - though you could probably find a much cheaper setup on Amazon or using some other type of drill press.

Hope this helps!

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Just to clarify a few details, it is possible to remove the keyboards in the retina display machine, but is not the greatest job to undertake... They look like they are riveted, as dan said, but they are actually metal plugs (they function a bit like a snap rivet) so are removable. You have to pull the keyboard fairly hard, then each plug will pop out. You will then need a keyboard screw set from the 15" Unibody MacBook Pro machine for when you replace the keyboard, as the screws are able to drill their own thread into the aluminium. (just be careful you dont thread the screw heads when you do this)

The difficulty after that, is actually finding the keyboards on their own... its no easy task, thats for sure. Apple dont sell them separately (in fact, they sell the top case unit with the battery, and trackpad as well, which makes it much more expensive)

The other details Dan mentioned are clear enough. I use isopropyl alcohol, cotton buds and a cloth to clean liquid damage, but the residue is often difficult to fully clear up, and if its slid under components, it can corrode with time, causing an assumed fully working machine to slowly degrade with time.

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I had a few dead keyboards in top cases which I did try to open up. I was never able to get either one working as I suspected I had killed it in the process of pulling it off (after fulling cleaning what had spilled in). At the time I couldn't find replacement keyboards. So it did not make sense wasting the effort which is why I don't bother trying (getting cut up fingers in the process).

by Dan

Jon, Do you have a source to find the bare replacement keyboards? Please share.

by Dan

Not as of yet unfortunately, but i have been doing a lot of work on these ranges, so have removed the keyboards on their own... i had this explained to me by a company we purchase complete displays from, but i am based in the UK so have different supply chains than US based companies. I will almost certainly be able to source some, but it will take time, as i was only told it was possible 2 weeks ago! we would generally source them via china or taiwan in bulk though, so not easy for an individual consumer unfortunately...

by Jon Ridley

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I am looking at the riveted 15" MBPr backside of the keyboard now. Just to be clear...there are no threaded small black screws on the back of this thing like the pro, but you're saying once I strip the keyboard from here, I can use the unibody black small-as-!@#$ philips screws in the "plugs" place?

TIA

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I just press-fitted the rivets back in when I did it. Using the other keyboard screws in their place sounds like it's a little easier, I just would be careful with any metal shavings that might get into the works. You could get a tap and thread the holes first. The different model series have different setups some have screws others a mix and lastly, some have all rivets. This is the one area Apple could have done better in the design (both in manufacturing & repairability).

by Dan

The 11" and 13" macbook air range (2010 and onwards) have screws around the outside, but rivets in the middle section. The retina display models of macbook pro have rivets all over, whereas all the standard macbook pro models use solely screws. The 13" has about 48 screws, and the 15" uses about 56. Because the rivets are sunk into the top case unit, it really doesn't take much to thread the screws into their slots, as it doesn't need to notch it with the soft aluminium casing, but its always advisable to make sure no metal shavings have been made and that they are cleaned up if they have, yes.

by Jon Ridley

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When I removed my keyboard, all but three of the rivets stayed in even though the heads all came off. My luck...!

I didn't want to use the screwdriver and hammer method to remove the rivets, because I was concerned that rocking them out in that way will tend to cause the hole to become oblong, and it may not hold the new screw thread as well.

Instead, I used an electronics wire cutter to pull out the rivets. You have to make sure the tool is what is known as a flush cutter, which has the cutting edge ground completely flat. The more common grind is slightly set back from the edge to create a more robust cutting edge, but it will not work here because the tool won't be able to grab enough of the rivet to pull it out. Nor will a large tool, for the same reason, so try to use a 4-1/2 inch or 5 inch cutter. It does not have to be hardened because the aluminum is not much harder than the copper that these tools are designed to cut.

You just put the tool completely flush on the aluminum, with the rivet about an eighth of an inch back from the front edge, and then squeeze and lift from the back at the same time. This will cause the tool to rock against its tip, and the rivet will pull straight out. It's very important to insure the tool is completely flat against the computer frame before you start to squeeze, and also to find the right amount of pressure to pull the rivet without cutting it.

In the end I got all but two of them out. It was easy enough to use a small drill to get the rest, as explained in John Ohl's previous post.

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As Jon Ridley suggested I tried the keyboard swap using 15in MBP screws. It was definitely NOT a pleasant job to undertake. It requires quite a bit of strength and stamina because you basically have to manually drill through aluminum using your hands. And there are many screws. I would venture a guess of around 50-60 to do. Lots of time and patience. Due to the fact that some of the rivets leave their bodies behind the final creation is a little less sturdy than the original because it's not held in place everywhere. But it's very usable and not bad.

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That's very good info, thanks! The problem with those rivets is you never know how many will stay and how many will go. If you rip the old keyboard out carefully and at the right angle you can minimize the amount of stuck rivets. Don't be afraid to use force (and perhaps The Force :)) to get them out.

I will certainly try the screwdriver method mentioned above. Sounds promising.

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Tom will be eternally grateful.

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