Introduction

Sticky keyboard keys are a common problem with laptops, usually resulting from drink spillage, food crumbs, or other substances gumming up the keys. Fortunately, with this guide, it is an easy fix.

Before getting started make sure to completely turn off your computer.
  • Before getting started make sure to completely turn off your computer.

    • Click on the apple in the upper left-hand corner of your computer screen. A drop down menu will appear.

    • Click "shut down".

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Dip a q-tip in isopropanol, and wipe around each sticky key. Make sure the q-tip is damp, not dripping. You may need multiple q-tips, as they get pretty dirty.
  • Dip a q-tip in isopropanol, and wipe around each sticky key.

  • Make sure the q-tip is damp, not dripping.

  • You may need multiple q-tips, as they get pretty dirty.

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Use a toothpick to remove crumbs or debris from under the sticky keys.
  • Use a toothpick to remove crumbs or debris from under the sticky keys.

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Now test out your keys. If they are still sticky continue on to Step 5.
  • Now test out your keys. If they are still sticky continue on to Step 5.

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Deck the Halls
With tools and Fix Kits
Use a spudger or plastic opening tool to pry up sticky keys. Insert the spudger under the side of a key. Lift up.
  • Use a spudger or plastic opening tool to pry up sticky keys.

    • Insert the spudger under the side of a key.

    • Lift up.

    • Use your fingers to twist the key off.

  • To avoid damaging your laptop, use a spudger or plastic opening tool rather than the butter knife shown in the image.

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When you are removing a key if one or both of these white plastic pieces come off the key board, don't worry. They are called key carriers and are very easy to put back on. If one part of the carrier is still in the keyboard, remove it so you have both in you hands.
  • When you are removing a key if one or both of these white plastic pieces come off the key board, don't worry. They are called key carriers and are very easy to put back on.

    • If one part of the carrier is still in the keyboard, remove it so you have both in you hands.

    • Look at the second picture and align the two piece then push them together. There should be a soft clicking sound.

    • In the same alignment as the second picture, place the carrier in the spot on the keyboard where it came off and press firmly into place.

How do the Carrier pieces fit in to the keyboard? Which way do they go? And I don't see the picture that aligns into pieces.

George Anderson - Reply

Yeah, you are telling us to refer to a second picture that you didn’t post ! Author.. please fix this !

David Lyonz - Reply

Put soap and warm water in a cup. As you remove the keys, put them in the soapy water.
  • Put soap and warm water in a cup.

  • As you remove the keys, put them in the soapy water.

  • Let the keys soak for 10 minutes.

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Wipe down your keyboard with q-tips damp with rubbing alcohol.
  • Wipe down your keyboard with q-tips damp with rubbing alcohol.

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Optional: If your keys are particularly sticky use rubbing alcohol and a q-tip to wipe the back of the keys. Dry the keys completely with a paper towel.
  • Optional: If your keys are particularly sticky use rubbing alcohol and a q-tip to wipe the back of the keys.

  • Dry the keys completely with a paper towel.

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Pop the keys back on: First align the key and press firmly into place.
  • Pop the keys back on:

    • First align the key and press firmly into place.

    • Then, move your finger side to side until you hear a double clicking sound.

All i needed was the tip to go ahead and pop key off. There WAS a crumb stuck under there, removed crumb & returned key and now things are working perfectly again. Thank you!

catherine4bs - Reply

Finish Line

47 other people completed this guide.

Lilly Paul

Member since: 02/24/2015

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23 Comments

YOU ROCK THANK YOU

(I'm going to type "S" a few times to demonstrate how well this helped me!

SSSSSsssssssssssssSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSsssssSSS

Victoria Patterson - Reply

Ugh it frustrates me that the author doesn't comprehensibly guide you through the complexities of taking keys off and on your keyboard. They are delicate and fit together elegantly. You should really elaborate before going and telling people to yank their keys off.

Aeron Ebbs - Reply

I disagree. He specified what to use, how to put them back on, etc. It's clear and precise!

Anyway I'm going to try this tonight so we'll see how it goes!

kaymay -

Actually it’s really not clear. If the key carriers come off and you don’t see how they were originally in the keyboard then there’s a huge amount of possible combinations as to which way around they could go. The author actually says “refer to the second picture to see how they go together” and then FORGOT TO UPLOAD THAT PICTURE ! You may have been lucky, but as many times as I’ve done this, it’s still a nightmare to figure out exactly which way around and which way up these little pieces go together. You may be lucky and get it right, or you may get it wrong but it’s still “good enough” or you may get it wrong and the key will never quite work the same again and you’ll end up taking it to a shop to replace the whole %#*@ keyboard for some ridiculous price because the author didn’t proof-read this article better and actually include the pictures that he said to refer to !

David Lyonz -

Great help - thx!

Kate - Reply

I'd just buy a new keyboard and fit it. Would take a lot less time!

Kevin Gill - Reply

You mean opening up the bottom of the macbook, unscrewing all of the screwed down components one at a time, undoing ribbon cables, keeping track of various different tiny screws (which you’ll probably have to go and buy a special trilobe screwdriver for along the way)?

Yeah definitely quicker.

Garion Bracken -

Thank you! Lifesaver! My only complaint is that it took me forever to put the key carriers back together and onto the keyboard because they were totally different from the ones in the photo... I fixed it in the end, but I definitely felt like it was a lot more complicated than the instructions suggested. But really useful guide nonetheless!

Beatrice MH - Reply

I used a guitar pick to take off the keys. I needed to fix my space bar because it kept sticking. Here's what I learned about it:

There are two normal clips on either side of it with metal bars around the outside, but the center has the plastic plug which can easily be lost. This must be placed in the center (test it by pressing it and the computer should Space) and then press the plastic bar back into place making sure it clicks a few hundred times. Also, on the inside, you want to make sure the pegs that are closer together are closest to the trackpad and the ones farther away are closer to the CVBNM keys.

Kevin Stuckey - Reply

I used glasses cleaner to lightly dampen a paper towel. Gently wiped around the key, blew on it. Problem solved. Thank you for the idea.

Richard - Reply

Great post! Thank you very much! I have done this on a 2014 Macbook Pro 15 inch, and it was very similar to this walk through. More than sufficient info to get the job done!

Adam Flaxman - Reply

This did not work for me on the new 2016 MacBook style keyboard. Keys caps donot come off. Used this Reddit thread instead. https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/...

Yudron Wangmo - Reply

This do not work for me on a 2013 MacBook Pro.

key carriers and are NOT easy to put back on.

You do not even show how the pieces go on keyboard.

This sucks.

George Anderson - Reply

Agreed. The author clearly did this article for a quick buck and didn’t check it or elaborate. Removing Macbook keys is an incredibly precise and delicate thing and this writer goes to the trouble of showing us what a freaking cup of water looks like and how to shut your Macbook down but not what the %#*@ key carries look like in their correct orientation. Come on author, what the !&&*. Do you think we own Macbooks but don’t know how to find the “shut down” menu option ? Give us a break. I’m pretty sure we all know what “soapy water” is too, yet you show TWO pictures of this and you don’t show a picture of the key carriers even though you say that this is a vital part and to refer to a picture that doesn’t exist. So annoyed with this article. If there was a “downvote” option on Google, this article would disappear. Trash “advice” truly.

David Lyonz -

my tab key actually bounces back now! hoora!

bryn eigl - Reply

Thank you, Lilly and friends! Found a sesame seed under the down arrow key. Much better now! (Early 2011 MacBook Pro 15).

Ilhan Yusuf - Reply

LOL.. its common sense guys.. naturally you would with ease pull the keys off.. In fact, I used a small paring knife and gently lifted as close to the bottom up the key from underneath and held the knife down while pulling gently with the keys.. i only had to put the plastic pieces back on two of them that came off when i started.. Once i got the 'feel' for how much pressure to use, I had no problems after that. PATIENCE. Nice tutorial but i was actually searching for a tutorial that showed how to get SUPER STICKY keyboard cleaned.. my mac is 7 years old and it has sat at a bar for some time.. .. i'll figure that one out too.. :) Good luck guys.

Kimberly Southern - Reply

I’d agree that the delicate white carriers did require some noodling along with jewelers close up glasses/visor thingy, and a pair of surgical tweezers, OH, and for me a piece of ducts tape cut very narrow (like a 1/16”). The duct tape strip picks up stray hair & debris in those tight corners. I’d imagine everyone has figured out that the white carrier assembly pieces connect, one inside the other, and result in having a scissor action. They attach at both ends, so that assembly does require a bit to make sure the orientation is correct and that you start by latching in the little end in first, then the two tabs of the big end. And it deserves mention that the larger/longer keys have the “U” bent metal rod, the ends of which have to be reinstalled into the holes as you're positioning the key, as this insures the button remains level. Finally, it might be my imagination, but it seemed to work a lot better removing the keys by lifting from the left edge toward the right, while the other way was not so easy

John Andrews - Reply

You rock! Thanks!!!

Kent Klein - Reply

The keys on my old MacAir never stick because they have reasonable travel but my on my new MacBook Retina they stick and re-stick all the time. As Marco Arment writes (on Wikipedia!) this laptop is "absolutely amazing, revolutionary, and mind-blowing… until you need to use the keyboard for something." Can I safely take the keys off in the manner described here? ^^^^

Paul Adams - Reply

I tried this for a stuck spacebar and it voided my applecare. 500.00 later, I learned my lesson. Take it in.

Jen Si - Reply

I just fixed my spacebar. The instructions are indeed too limited. I managed to put back my space bar correctly into my MacBook Pro mid 2012 (works 100% ok) but I had to find my way on my own. Sort of a puzzle. Prepare for it before you remove this key. My advice is do NOT hit the device on to the table. Control your frustration. Consider a sequence of deep breaths every 2-3 minutes and it will be fine. The solution exists and does not require using force.

Joze -

One-sided razor blades are found at the hardware store & are used in paint-cleaning scrapers. They have a thin, sharp corner & edge that worked well to lift key(s). They also worked well in cleaning the keyboard before hand so that I only had to lift ONE key that was particularly sticky & not several. I powered down, cleaned everything w/a slightly moist cottonball w/rubbing alcohol. I wiped the screen, then the area around the keys, then the entire keyboard surface. I got a lot of grime off this way. Then I used Q-tips, moving around the edges of each key, focusing on sticky keys. At that point, there were only 2 keys that were a little sticky. Then I got the razor blade and went around the edges of those 2 keys, rubbing the blade against the metal surface (so as not to damage the key). One key seemed clean. On the other, I could definitely feel the sticky spot. I cleaned the less-sticky key and freed it up. Then I slowly removed the sticky key, scraped w/razor, cleaned w/Q-tip & re-assembled. Worked great!

Leslie Moyer - Reply

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