In this guide I explain how to remove and replace failed or damaged keyboard on a MacBook Pro 13″, 15″ or 17″ unibody laptop.
As an example, I am doing it on a MacBook Pro 15″ (Early 2011) but it will be very similar for most MacBook Pro unibody model years 2008-2013.
In my case some liquid was spilled on the keyboard and some keyboard keys stopped working.
In a MacBook Pro the keyboard is mounted to the bottom side of the top case assembly. It means in order to replace the keyboard you will have to remove most internal components.
You will have to remove the logic board and cooling fans.
You will have to remove the optical drive.
You can use iFixit MacBook Pro disassembly guides to remove these components.
You have to know the model year of your MacBook Pro in order to find the correct disassembly guide.
Here is how to find the model year:
1. Search for the serial number printed on the bottom cover.
2. Check your serial number on the Apple site.
3. When you run the serial number you will find the model year in the results. For example, it will say MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010).
Now you can go to the iFixit site and find the correct disassembly guide.
There are lots of different disassembly guides on that site. Search for the upper case removal or replacement guide. It’s the most complete set of disassembly instructions.
You’ll have to disassemble the laptop to the point where you have easy access to the keyboard, as it shown on the following picture.
As I mentioned earlier, you will have to remove the logic board, cooling fans, optical drive and un-route some cables.
It is NOT necessary to remove the battery, hard drive and display panel.
When it looks like one on the following picture, you are ready for the keyboard removal and replacement.
KEYBOARD REMOVAL PROCEDURE
In MacBook Pro the power button permanently attached to the keyboard via a ribbon cable.
Before you can remove the keyboard you will have to release the power button.
Remove two screws securing the power button.
Lift up the power button and separate the ribbon cable from the case.
The ribbon cable is glued to the case with sticky tape.
Un-route the power button from under the antenna and display cables.
There is a round silver spring located under the power button. Do not lose it.
Different MacBook Pro models have different trackpad cables.
In my case it was a long L-shaped cable.
If your trackpad cable looks like mine, carefully unglue it from the keyboard.
You can secure the trackpad cable to the case with sticky tape so it stays away from the keyboard.
A MacBook Pro keyboard has two parts – the keyboard itself and the backlight.
The backlight glued over the keyboard.
Carefully start separating the backlight from the keyboard.
You can be less careful, if you are not reusing the backlight.
When I have to replace a failed or damaged keyboard, I am always replacing the backlight too. It is just way easier to work with a brand new part.
The backlight has three different layers. Do not separate them from each other.
When you remove the backlight, you have to see the metal surface of the keyboard.
Continue separating the backlight from the keyboard.
The backlight has been removed.
Now you can start removing the keyboard.
You will see LOTs of tiny screws (over 60) securing the keyboard to the top cover assembly.
Remove all screws using a Phillips PH00 screwdriver (preferably magnetized).
Remove the failed or damaged keyboard.
Install a new keyboard and backlight into the laptop case.
I buy new keyboards on eBay.
1. For MacBook Pro 13″ available here.
2. For MacBook Pro 15″ available here.
3. For MacBook Pro 17″ available here.
The only difference between 2009-2010 and 2011-2012 models is the F3 and F4 keys logo but the function will be the same.
As I mentioned earlier, I always buy keyboards with backlight but you can reuse the old backlight if you wish.
Assemble everything back together.
Instructions for MacBook Air laptops available here.