Got a Butterfly MacBook keyboard? The free repair program is ending - here's what it means for you

M3 MacBook Pro review
(Image credit: Future)

It's easy to forget in the current era of MacBooks, but there was a time when Apple laptop keyboards were pretty lousy.

Debuting in March 2015, the 'Butterfly' keyboard mechanism arrived in the 12-inch MacBook and then spread to Pro and Air models over the course of a few years, drawing complaints pretty much everywhere it went.

This led to a class action lawsuit in May 2018, prompting Apple to launch its "Keyboard Service Program" which allows for repairs to be conducted free of charge for anyone experiencing the following on an affected model (as per Apple's own site):

  • Letters or characters repeat unexpectedly
  • Letters or characters do not appear
  • Key(s) feel "sticky" or do not respond in a consistent manner

As spotted by MacRumors, though, this program is coming to an end this year, with the discontinued 13-inch MacBook Pro from 2019 the last bastion of butterfly keyboard depending on when it was purchased.

That means, depending on when you purchased your MacBook, you may be running out of time to request a service to keep it running longer, with the latest ones being ineligible after November 2024.

The 2024 MacBook Air M3 on a wooden table in front of a bookshelf.

Current MacBooks have (thankfully) ditched the butterfly mechanism (Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

Did Apple ever apologize?

Apple may yet extend the program, but it likely learned its lesson and shifted to scissor-switch keys in the 16-inch 2019 MacBook Pro, then the MacBook Air, and then the 13-inch Pro over the course of a few months.

That class action lawsuit ended with payouts ranging from $50 to $395, but Apple also apologized for the whole thing, albeit suggesting it was a "small number of users".

"We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry," a spokesperson shared with the Wall Street Journal back in 2019.

Did you have a butterfly MacBook? Let us know in the comments.

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Lloyd Coombes
Contributor

Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom.

Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more.

He’s also the Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.