How to replace keyboard on MacBook Pro 13″, 15″, 17″

posted in: Apple Products | 25

MacBook Pro unibody

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.

Remove MacBook Pro logic board

You will have to remove the optical drive.

Remove MacBook Pro 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.

Removing MacBook Pro keyboard

 

KEYBOARD REMOVAL PROCEDURE

STEP 1.

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.

MacBook Pro power button

Remove two screws securing the power button.

Remove screws from power button

STEP 2.

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.

Un-route power button

There is a round silver spring located under the power button. Do not lose it.

MacBook Pro power button spring

STEP 3.

Different MacBook Pro models have different trackpad cables.

In my case it was a long L-shaped cable.

Keyboard ready for replacement

If your trackpad cable looks like mine, carefully unglue it from the keyboard.

Separate trackpad cable

You can secure the trackpad cable to the case with sticky tape so it stays away from the keyboard.

Secure trackpad cable

STEP 4.

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.

Start separating keyboard backlight

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 removing keyboard backlight

Continue separating the backlight from the keyboard.

Continue separating backlight from keyboard

The backlight has been removed.

MacBook Pro keyboard backlight removed

STEP 5.

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 screws from keyboard

STEP 6.

Remove the failed or damaged keyboard.

Remove MacBook Pro keyboard

STEP 7.

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.

New MacBook Pro keyboard and backlight

Instructions for MacBook Air laptops available here.




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25 Responses

  1. Hello,
    I just got done with changing my keyboard on a late 2011 15” Macbook Pro, I followed this guide and it worked perfectly, I bought the keyboard on ebay for $45, and a set of small screwdrivers for another $10.
    Thanks for the help

  2. @ Jeff,
    You are welcome!
    I’m glad it worked out well for you.
    The keyboard replacement takes lots of time, patience and skills.

  3. Hello, how many hours this kind of job will take?

  4. IML Tech

    @ Maria,
    It takes me about 1 hour to replace the keyboard but… I’m an experienced tech. :)

  5. Hello. How much would you charge to do the work yourself? I do not trust myself to do it. I have my macbook backed up.

  6. Hey there, thanks for the great guide! Exactly what I’ve been looking for to clean up my”coffee-leak-macbook” :)
    Actually I do have one addition or correction: I believe the keyboard screws are PH000, not PH00. At least the 000 fits better on my MBP 13″ late 09.

    Thanks for the great guide!

  7. @ Chris,
    PH00 works well for me. I’m using a Wiha screwdriver and it fits perfectly.

  8. Is the 15″ Mid 2012 MBP the same as the MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early-Late 2011). Motherboard looks similar and has the same pads. Just want to check before I short something out,

  9. Distshore

    What is the part number for the keyboard? I’m also looking for 15″ MBP mid-2010 but what I see online seems to be complete top cases
    Thanks for your help!

  10. IML Tech

    @ Distshore,
    There is no part number for the keyboard. Apple doesn’t sell it separately.
    You can find a replacement on eBay. Just search for “MacBook Pro 15 2010 keyboard”.

  11. Courtney Smith

    Hi there. Do you have any keyboards that you suggest buying over any others? I have a macbook pro 13 a1278 2012 model. Thanks.

  12. IML Tech

    @ Courtney Smith,
    Not really. Just make sure to buy a new one.
    If you search for “A1278 new keyboard” on eBay, you’ll find one with the backlight for $39.95 with free shipping.
    That’s should be good enough.

  13. Al Santoro

    I have a 13″ macbook late 2009 model. Any particular keyboard and backlight model number? I have a few keys that are simply not working, so I am thinking the keyboard has just worn out from intense use. Any thoughts? thanks

  14. IML Tech

    @ Al Santoto,

    I have a 13″ macbook late 2009 model. Any particular keyboard and backlight model number?

    There is no model number. You can use any keyboard and backlight designed for MBP 13″ A1278 2009-2010 models.
    You can even use 2011-2012 models but they will have different logo on the F3 and F4 keys.

    I just updated the post and added links to keyboard listings on eBay.

  15. Thank you for this post – very helpful!

    I had an incredible amount of trouble with this and I don’t know why. I’ve been doing hardware repair for several years but this one really got me. The first two times I reassembled there was no response to the power button and the wer adapter wouldn’t light up. After two more tear-downs and rebuilds, I finally got everything working except for sound.

    I don’t feel like I did anything different each time so I can’t even guess what was going on. Anyone have any suggestions for getting the sound working again? The system recognizes the sound card but system prefs claim there’s no driver for the device. So far, I’ve installed a new system and zapped the PRAM.

  16. Hi, I have a macbook 5.1 end 2008, I can replace the keyboard with 2009 backlit keyboard, the contact in logic board is compatibile. Thanks Dan :)

  17. IML Tech

    @ simon,
    I think this Apple discussion can be helpful.
    Apparently, if your laptop has a 2GHz processor, it doesn’t support backlight keyboards.

  18. Ah ok I don’t know this, thanks IML Tech good work.

  19. Working thru these instructions, I dropped one of the screws holding the power button. Do you know where I can buy a replacement?

  20. Yogesch

    Great guide!

    I have a quick question: Which screwdrivers are needed for this job? Specifically, do you ever need the Y screwdrivers?

  21. Hello there gr8 guide
    i have a late 2008 mac book Uni-body 2.4ghz with lid keyboard, would the 2010/11/12 keyboards will fit my mac book ?
    thanks in advance

  22. thank you very much! just replaced mine keyboard.

  23. I used this guide to replace my MacBook keyboard, and when I got done the right half of the keyboard won’t work. Any ideas?

  24. IML Tech

    @ Ben,
    Check if the keyboard cable plugged correctly. Try resetting the cable, make sure it’s in all the way.

  25. Yeah, that keyboard and backlight cable are nasty little suckers. This job would have only taken me and 1 1/2 hours if it wasn’t for those things. I had to walk away from everything for a couple of hours or I would have made things far worse. I still don’t know how I managed to reconnect them, but I saved myself a nice chunk of change doing it myself!

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