How reliable has your new MacBook or MacBook Pro keyboard been?

The new-style keyboards found on 12-inch MacBook and, more recently, 13-inch and 15-inch MacBooks Pro are divisive. Some people prefer them. Some don't care one way or another. Some hate their clicking guts.

The difference is that the new keyboards use new butterfly switches that provide more stability but also tremendously less travel.

Personally, I like the new keyboards and, when I go back to the old ones, I find them mushy and wobbly. But that's just me. Plenty of people whose opinions I hold in the highest of regard detest the new keyboards, and that's not good for a product that, due to its single supplier, has to have the widest possible appeal.

Regardless of how you feel about them, they also have to work and be resilient enough to keep working for years.

That's the part that's most recently come to attention following an article by Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline:

"Maybe it's a piece of dust," the Genius had offered. The previous times I'd been to the Apple Store for the same computer with the same problem — a misbehaving keyboard — Geniuses had said to me these exact same nonchalant words, and I had been stunned into silence, the first time because it seemed so improbable to blame such a core problem on such a small thing, and the second time because I couldn't believe the first time I was hearing this line that it was not a fluke. But this time, the third time, I was ready. "Hold on," I said. "If a single piece of dust lays the whole computer out, don't you think that's kind of a problem?"

It also prompted this video by Jonathan Mann:

I've been using the butterfly-style keyboard since the 12-inch MacBook came out in March of 2015. I've since used it, counting review units, on 7 different MacBooks and MacBooks Pro. I've kept using them, full-time, through all manner of dust, dirt, and debris, and I've yet to have a single problem with any of them.

That's just my experience, though, and it has to be weighed against the many and varied experiences of others.

For now, if you have unresponsive or unusual feeling keys on your 12-inch MacBook or new MacBook Pro, Apple Support recommends cleaning them out with compressed air. That seems to have worked for some but not everyone.

If butterfly keys are more prone to dust ingress than previous keys or prove to have a higher failure rate, it'll have to be dealt with accordingly.

After all, they're the MacBooks everyone at Apple are using as well.

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.