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How do I keep my Apple Watch from scratching up my MacBook Pro?

That means there are some skills we have to relearn. One bad habit I've gotten into, and some of you have, judging from my email, is letting my wrists touch the palm rest area on my MacBook.

C.R. writes:

I'm worried that the clasp on my Apple Watch is going to start scratching up the area to the left of my Retina MacBook Pro's trackpad. I've seen palm rest covers for sale that should fit my model. Are they safe?

It was more than a decade ago that I got my first PowerBook G4. Apple made those using titanium, and they scratched if you looked at them funny. I wore a watch and noticed after a couple of weeks that its metal strap had absolutely wreaked hell on my brand new PowerBook.

Off went the watch. I got my first cell phone shortly thereafter. It had a clock on it so I didn't think much more about wearing another watch, until the Apple Watch came out. So as a Retina MacBook Pro user myself, this question piqued my curiosity.

Turns out that Apple says unequivocally not to use (opens in new tab) either palm rest covers or keyboard covers with that particular model.

Leaving any material on the top case (keyboard and palm rest area) could result in damage to the display when you close it. This includes palm rest or keyboard covers, as well as any adhesive-backed keycap additions.

If you're using a MacBook Air or an older non-Retina MacBook Pro, vendors make such protective gear that should be safe to use for those models. But if you're using a Retina MacBook Pro, I'd recommend following Apple's instructions and avoid them. I haven't seen any such accessories for the new MacBook, but I suspect it falls into the same category as the Retina MacBook Pro.

If you're worried that your Apple Watch band is going to scratch up your MacBook Pro, you might want to reconsider your keyboard technique. Ideally your wrists should be straight and slightly elevated from the surface of the laptop, which will keep the clasp on your Apple Watch from scratching up your MacBook.

Another alternative to consider, at least if you're using the laptop in a stationary position most of the time, is to opt for an external keyboard. That's how I work most of the time when I'm not on the road or drinking coffee at Starbucks.

31 Comments
  • So to not scratch my Macbook with the watch, I should not let the watch touch it? Great advice :-/
  • This site is going downhill. No longer is it the "start-up style" technology information site that it used to be. It is now the Rene and Georgia site. Even Ally was sent packing. I'm going to start going to Cult of Mac, Appleinsider, Macrumors, etc... Who's with me! C'mon folks!!!
  • Cult of Mac is pretty rubbishy a lot of the time. (And regularly throws in articles that have nothing to do with Apple at all.) The only thing about iMore I find strange is the huge fluctuation between long, incredibly detailed reviews, and then suddenly several one-sentence "articles" telling you how to click the side button or insert the cable. It's like one extreme to the other. I find that a bit jarring. I often click those short "how to" articles thinking I must be missing something, and then realise "nope" :)
  • What happened to Ally?!
  • She either left, or was asked to leave. Read her Facebook site. Notice she didn't mention Georgia in her goodbyes. I was ranting earlier, but there was a time when the journalist on this site took time to answer questions on Twitter or other means. Now it's an Apple does everything right website that has lost touch with it's readership. Ally was the last editor that actually took time to reply and truely loved technology. iMore was the first technology blog site I found when I got interested in Apple. But it's grown past its grassroots.
  • That's a shame, I liked her. Thanks for the info. Yeah, I'm pretty ambivalent about iMore now. I come here from time-to-time, but not like I used to. Rene, while very knowledgeable, is too thin-skinned when it comes to Apple. I will say, he usually has good arguments and good facts to back up his defense of Apple, but it's the whole attitude thing. I'm sure he's a great guy, but I don't like that apologist attitude about any product. Serenity, in my opinion, is falling into the same pattern. I use to enjoy her writing, but I usually just skip her articles now. Sometimes, like with the Apple Watch, their writing seems disingenuous, like they're trying to convince you of something in spite of the limitations, making it more important than it really is. While I understand it's a new product category, much of their writing feels like filler material. As someone that use to do technical writing, I understand that writing is not easy, but I'd rather have quality than quantity. I tend to also be very pro-Apple, having gotten my Apple / Mac certifications in 1986 while working at ComputerLand fresh out of college. But, I've been in IT long enough to know that one solution doesn't fit all. You go with what works best, regardless of who you like best.
  • You hit the nail on the head. Just about every piece of tech I use is Apple, but I fully realize there are other good options out there. I just happen to prefer Apple. But this site is very apologetic to Apple. Rene would stand up and argue services like Ping and MobileMe were the best in class if they were still around. And ask Rene a question, good luck getting a response unless you're a well know tech writer. Sorry to bogart this piece by Peter, but it's what came to my mind while reading it - even though this article didn't really trigger anything. I've just been thinking this for sometime now.
  • Two years ago, when Leanna Lofte left iMore, Rene posted a nice farewell piece to her. Doesn't Ally deserve the same? She has contributed quite a lot to the site over the past several years. Instead, it's buried in a comment about not scratching your laptop with your watch, because someone noticed something she posted on Facebook. Not exactly a great send-off.
  • The Sport bands are probably least scratch things prone...
  • I agree. In addition, I ordered some cotton athletic sweat bands from Amazon to slip over the watch for additional protection. I also intend to utilize them to "cloak" my apple watch when venturing in less savory places in public. Out of sight, out of mind...
  • I didn't know about Apple's statement to not use either a pad rest or a keyboard covers. Guess I'd better take off these which I have been using since 2012 without any problems: http://www.moshi.com/keyboard-protector-clearguard-macbook#us-layout and http://www.bestskinsever.com/macbook-pro-15-inch-with-retina-display-skin
    :)
  • And next, iMore instructively shows you how to wipe your ass wearing the Apple Watch !
  • The Titanium PowerBook was PAINTED. So the scratching was of the paint.
    My question is, will the non-anodized aluminum even scratch with the materials of the Apple Watch? I have a black and I mean BLACK anodized Razer Blade Pro, the metal part of my pebble's band has yet to leave a mark. There is a zipper inside by backpack which touches the edge of the laptop it does leave a mark, but the laptop wins, I can simply wipe off the markings with my finger; good as new. So, again, how scratchable are these MacBooks? Sent from the iMore App
  • Not very... it's just a filler article. All Macbooks are anodized, you can't have bare aluminum, it'll oxidize and discolor over time. Those items that look like pure aluminum are clear coat anodized and it's a realtively tough surface. I wouldn't rest a stainless steel band on it because over time it will scratch a bit, but the smooth little steel pin on the Sport band is unlikely to cause any real scratches unless you are very rough on your Macbook. I've been wearing it and typing on my Macbook and see zero scratches so far after a couple weeks.
  • Good to know about the anodization. Good to know about your lack of scratching.
  • "You're holding it wrong."
    Jk, jk.
    What about Invisible Shield by ZAGG? This stuff is paper thin, with excellent scratch protection. I see now apple suggests not to affix anything, and I understand why not to stick a cushioning pad of sorts, but I wonder what the real maximum could be and not damage anything. Sent from the iMore App
  • I have the sport band with the SS pin. I worry about the pin doing the scratching. It taps and rubs a little on the top, but I haven't noticed any scratches. It would probably take a significant amount of force for it to scratch. That being said, I wonder if any one makes a plastic pin for the bands. That would solve the worrying for me.
  • I had the same issue with the pin tapping the table when I typed. I solved it by swapping the straps (so that the pin strap was where the strap w/o the pin was and visa versa). I'm a lefty with my watch on my right arm and I have small wrists so your milage may vary.
  • I think I see what you are saying. By you swapping those around, you were able to move the pin away more from the keyboard. I don't think this will work in my case, but thanks for your comment! :-)
  • Reading the comments has been more productive than the actual article. An editor should have taken one look and said "GTFOH with this". Seriously, other Mobile Nations sites are so much more informative and useful than this one. Stories like this just add credibility to how many others view "dumb Apple fanboys". Sent from the iMore App
  • I've been ahead on this, though still I don't have a conclusive opinion: http://forums.imore.com/apple-watch/328247-sport-band-pin-table-macbook-... Best choice probably is to get SS with Leather Loop
  • This is so weird. I've worn a stainless steel watch for years, before my Apple Watch. My MacBook Pro is pushing 6 years old. Not a single scratch. Once in a while I have to clean the dirty build up from my hand oils. Maybe the paint job is better on older MBPs?
  • I have a Twelve South black leather SurfacePad on my 13 inch MacBook Air and it's never been an issue to my display. I love the fact my Pebble or  Watch has never put a scratch on the my machine. 8 months old and have had it on since day one. Sent from the iMore App
  • Someone in the iMore forums suggested using a microfiber cloth on the palm rest area temporarily - like when you're using your MacBook (Pro). Another suggestion was to wear a terrycloth wrist band over the watch. I like the wristband idea for everything but seeing/using your watch. :)
  • Quick answer: Pay a modicum of attention to what you're doing. Pro answer: Use a desktop machine.
  • Um, don't buy the stupid thing. Sent from the iMore App
  • Jezzzz, talk about a First World problem... I didn't know whether to laugh or cringe. No disrespect, but I would've been embarrassed to even write about this.
  • I have the leather loop with my  Watch but finally got a sport band today so I don't have to worry about sweat and water ruining the band. The first thing I noticed as a I sat down at my Macbook Pro tonight was that damned pin dragging right across the palm rest. I do tend to rest my hands instead of holding them up like I should so my solution is simple and its something I do anyway: I keep my watchband loose. I have claustrophobia and cannot stand tight anything whether it be a small space or tight clothes. I know this is probably not ideal for the sensors on the watch to maintain proper skin contact but it works for me and I can only count once in the last month that I've had to put my password back in because the watch lost skin contact.
  • Being that the Apple Watch was not my first wrist worn time piece I don't find this an issue. The devices with metal straps or buckles I have to take off while working on the MBR. Sorry, just a fact of life. Why is it an issue? My daily timepiece other than the Apple Watch is on a zulu strap. The buckle is off set and only the nylon contacts the computer. When we have adapters I might get a Zulu or NATO strap for my Apple Watch. Why have we become such a group of whiny mf's? If you do not like the site go somewhere else it is the beauty of this media. There are plenty of folks who write for these sites that make we wish my grammar was better. The self indulgent POV's are worse than the commenters. Irony intended.
  • more should be called first world apple problems. lol The filler in this fucking site is pathetic. This site its all about quantity. They treat the readership like a bunch of assholes that don't know how to do shit with the products.
  • I've cut out a square sized clear screen protector for an iPhone then applied to the left palm rest and also a piece of clear tape cut to size for the left corner and then PROBLEM SOLVED!