Apple MacBook & MacBook Pro Keyboard Service Program: What you need to know

2016 No-Touchbar MacBook Pro
2016 No-Touchbar MacBook Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

Apple has just announced a service program for MacBook and MacBook Pro customers who have experienced issues with their keyboards and are no longer covered under AppleCare. An Apple spokesperson provided me with the following statement:

Today we launched a keyboard service program for our customers that covers a small percentage of keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models which may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors: letters or characters that repeat unexpectedly or don't appear when pressed or keys that feel "sticky" or aren't responding in a consistent manner."Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will examine the customer's device to verify eligibility and then perform the service free of charge. Service may involve the replacement of one or more keys or the whole keyboard. For more details on the program customers can visit: ."

The program covers eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro models for up to 4 years after the original retail purchase of the device. Eligible models are:

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12­-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13­-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2017)

It's my understanding that when Apple states a small percentage of customers, the company really means a small percentage of customers. I don't want to speculate as to whether negative social sentiment provoked a response sooner than what the raw numbers would otherwise have mandated, but I wouldn't be shocked if that were the case — Apple wants to keep current customers happy so they remain future customers as well.

But, this does feel like one of those things where Apple measured a hundred times then decided it was in everyone's best interests to simply cut to the chase and launch the program.

Previously, a sampling of Apple Retail and Authorized Service Centers showed that while overall reliability for the new MacBook Pro was much higher, keyboard reliability was flat if not slightly down for the 2016 model, but higher again for the 2017 model.

Whether or not more recent versions are less prone to issues, or if Apple makes changes in future versions to make them even less prone to issues, we'll have to wait and see.

If you're taking your MacBook or MacBook Pro in for repair, make sure you backup your Mac first and fully.

If you've already paid for a repair at Apple or at an authorized service provider and would now be covered by this program, you can contact Apple and apply for a refund.

Apple Keyboard Service Program for MacBook and MacBook Pro (opens in new tab)

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • What an embarrassing article, written by someone who appears to be hopelessly beholden to Apple. I appreciate that in order to maintain close ties with Apple your ability to criticise is seriously limited, but it also means that this sort of journalism is worthless. "It's my understanding that when Apple states a small percentage of customers, the company really means a small percentage of customers. I don't want to speculate as to whether negative social sentiment provoked a response sooner than what the raw numbers would otherwise have mandated, but I wouldn't be shocked if that were the case" Small percentage of customers? I think not. And it's not customer's "perception" either. This is a real issue that is directly impacting lots of customers, which Apple has been slow to address - head over to Macrumors for some real unbiased comments.
  • There was a small percentage of customers that had an issue with an iPhone 6 bending, just like there's a small percentage of customers having a problem with the keyboard on the MacBooks. Despite Tim Day1's comment, he hasn't stated why a "Small percentage of customers" isn't true, just that he "thinks" it's not true.
  • Small percentage means nine, if Apple is to be believed.
    Apple is not to be believed.
  • From what I gathered it's more than 9 people, but it's still a small percentage
  • "Small percentage of customers? I think not" What source do you have that makes you think it is not a small percentage of customers?
  • I know 4 people with new MacBooks and two of them have had warranty replacements (plus me!). The recent article which analysed repair data also showed it was more than a "small percentage", and a significant increase compared to previous models. Forums are full of people complaining about issues with keyboards. It's a flawed design. I love Apple products, but I'm embarrassed by Apple apologists.
  • It will be interesting to see if it's a flawed design as opposed to a manufacturing error, because the former would mean that Apple would end up getting rid of the butterfly keyboard design.
  • Stop! You’re killing me....
  • This is great news. This helps restore my faith and trust as an exclusive MacBook user est. 2010 (and now on my third model) that if something genuinely goes wrong that's not of Apple's esteemed reputation for making reliable hardware that lasts you a very long time, they will remedy that problem without extra cost to you. We pay thousands for these MacBook devices upfront, and that high purchase value should mean something when compared to much cheaper models from other companies that have the same hardware specs. The question for me is how soon will I go in to have my 2017 model's keyboard fixed that's already playing up / driving me mad / reducing my productivity, or will I just have to come in multiple times over the course of the next four years? I'd rather wait for the revised butterfly mechanism design to be the replacement parts based on that recently-filed patent of theirs, but it really is on them for creating this poorly-performing keyboard design so I am entitled to come in and have it fixed as many times as needed, still at a hassle to me each time anyway (of not having my machine to work on for usually 7+ days of waiting during the repair).
  • If this were really such a small number of users Apple would not bother creating a special program for them. They would simply replace them on a case-by-case basis.
  • Not really. On many occasions Apple has provided programs even when the amount of cases is small, because they pride themselves on the quality of their products so they don't want people to be unhappy with the quality they got.
  • Rene-do you happen to know if the MacBook Pro keyboard replacement can be done at the store? Mine was of the group eligible for a battery replacement and I took it in for that (I'm some 200 miles from a store) and was dismayed to learn that the replacement battery couldn't be put in at the store but had to be sent off to a repair facility. Fortunately, Apple now has a policy where they can accept the computer at the store and return it via delivery to the customer rather that requiring the customer to come back to the store. But still I was without my laptop for a few days.