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Saving my MackBook Pro

by Fhung

My Problem

While watching DVD on my 5 y.o. MacBook Pro, my husband spilled his red wine on it. Pretty badly too. Fortunately the hard drive is not affected. However, the incident rendered the keyboard useless: only about 5% of the keys worked! Now, a laptop without a working keyboard is useless! We tried to clean and dry my MBP as best we could, but the damage was done. It would be a shameful waste to throw my otherwise fine MacBook Pro away just because of the defunct keyboard. Besides, I don’t have any fund to get a new one. So, what to do?

ifixit.com to the rescue! I have always loved to make and repair things (although usually it's more on the art and craft side; not electronics!), so I went to ifixit.com and found everything I needed to replace my broken keyboard there. Placed the order, and it arrived within 4 days; all the way from the US to Hong Kong! Excellent!!!

My Fix

The repair went smoothly. The instructions provided are very well written. The photos marking the screws and other important parts to pay extra attention to are very helpful.

I printed out the instructions and prepared a container to keep the screws well organized; I numbered the compartments according to the steps requiring screws removal.

Pulling out the top case was harder than I thought. It got stuck on the front - I dared not to use much force since I wasn't sure what's holding it down underneath. I followed the advise to rock it up and down and finally I applied some force and the case came free with a snap sound. No damage done!

Everything else went well until it's time to screw the replacement keyboard on. One of the screw wouldn't catch: the opening on the case was in the wrong shape so it created a deeper recess that the screw simply couldn't reach. There’s a faint circle-shaped dent there – probably the screw was forced in with electric screw driver which I don’t have. Fortunately it is the one under the black protecting sticker, so I left the screw under there with hope that it won’t affect negatively on the keyboard. And it doesn't :).

Another issue: I somehow couldn't get the replacement keyboard to lay completely flat although I have matched all the interlocking parts when inserting it. In the last photo you can see how the top part is slightly wavy. Fortunately it doesn't affect its functionality, just aesthetically not so pleasing - and technically: why?

The whole operation took me over 3 hours because I was being very careful not to mess things up, and also because I was get distracted looking at the fascinating details of the components. I also spent considerable amount of time to take pictures of the process with my iPhone and posted them straight away to Instagram (also posted to my blog: http://ztampf.com/blog/2011/10/23/irepai...). Otherwise, 2 hours would suffice!

My Advice

I wish I had known that it's okay to apply some force to remove the front side of the top case. I spent like 10 minutes rocking it up and down before decided to take some risk and forced it out.

I also used the blue opening tool to ease the front side of the top case before forcing it out. I think it helped.

P.S.:

The spudger is a very clever versatile little tool!