Taking Apart & Cleaning A MBP Keyboard 27


Taking Apart & Cleaning A MBP Keyboard


After you have used your MacBookPro (and other Macs) for a while crud and crap gets lodged under the keys. Although this doesn’t really effect MacBooks (older pre Oct 14th version at least) the silver MacBook Pros tend to get a bit dirty. At this point I am unsure whether it will be of use to the newer MacBooks/Pros (after Oct 14th), but if you keyboard is dirty already, you must be doing something wrong.

This post/tutorial will focus on the MacBook Pros. They have a very tricky key design that will take you a while to figure out. Throughout this post you need to take your time. Do not rush this. The springy action of the key is very delicate and if you apply to much force it will break and you will be screwed. Patience is the name of the game.

For this tutorial you will need:

  • Something flat and strong; a knife, flat headed screw driver etc
  • Something to clean the keyboard base which isn’t to strong
  • Lots of time and patience

I will try to be as detailed as possible, if you get stuck leave a comment. Once you manage to remove and re-attach a key the rest of them will be easy. I am focusing on the main keys, but all of the other keys should function in the same manner. The only one that is different will be the space and maybe the bigger keys. You will have to find out.

The actual key design is very simple. At the bottom (the base plate) there is a couple of hooks and the actual button. Into these very small hooks there is a two part piece of thin plastic. This piece of plastic has points which attach to various parts of the system. On the very top is the key. This attaches to the plastic hooks and slots into place. It will all come clear when you take you keyboard apart.

Taking Off The Keys

First open up TextEdit and insert the cursor into the program. I am going to assume you have your Mac on so you can read the instructions. TextEdit is designed to catch all of the random key presses you make and to stop your computer whining as you smash the keyboard.

Next take your flat object and put it into the bottom of the key you are going to remove. Start somewhere in the middle of the keyboard. Gently, and I mean gently prise the key up. Go in from the top as well. You need to apply enough pressure for the key to pop out of the plastic centre piece with out breaking things. After you have applied enough pressure the key should pop out. It may make a small crack. Slowly build up the amount of pressure you apply until you can work out how to easily remove the keys.

In the image I have removed two keys. You can clearly see how the key works. The next step is to remove the white piece. This is so you can easily clean the keyboard. Removing the piece is simple. Pinch the plastic (it can move up and down) so one of the top attachment points comes free. They are quite flexible, but agin they can break. Once as you have remove the white piece store it with the key it came from. Continue to do this for all of the keys.


A clean keyboard works well in my opinion. If you have dirt and pieces of stuff under the keys it becomes hard to use your keyboard. You end up bashing the keys like and old type writer. To clean the keyboard use compressed air or a fine brush. A vacuum cleaner could work, although they tend to be a bit powerful. Gently remove all of the dirt and grime.

Putting It All Back Together

Hopefully you can remember where every key goes. If you don’t use the keyboard viewer from System Preferences in your MenuBar. Re-attaching the keys is a two step process. Attach the white plastic part and snap in the key.

The plastic part is the trickiest. You need to lay the plastic part flat, the right way up, pinch and then slide it into a corner. The bits that stick out go into the top holes. First try and get the piece as flat as possible. This is so the bottom attachment piece can fit in securely. Then in one smooth action pinch the plastic so it can hit into the gap, slide it into place and let go. If all goes well the plastic will reattach into the correct position and the bottom part will be in the correct place.

Attaching the actual key is also quite simple but it takes a bit of practice. With you knife or screwdriver place it in such a way that the plastic part is raised. Then insert the key vertically into the slot so the top attachment points meet.

In one smooth motion you need to bend the key round and move the knife out of the way. It should then click into place. This method seems to work, probably because the top two attachment points slide in quite well. Then the key is flat give it a good couple of presses so it connects properly. Repeat with every other key.


Cleaning a MacBook Pro keyboard is easy. It just take a hell of a long time in taking it apart and putting back together again. Take your time, be patient and hope you don’t break anything. It is a fiddly method, but once you get the hang of it you should be quite quick at performing the task. Its like riding a bicycle, take ages to learn but once you have the knack you can do it without thinking.

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