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 need a set of fine Phillips and Torx screwdrivers.
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. New keyboards available on eBay.
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.
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
You are welcome!
I’m glad it worked out well for you.
The keyboard replacement takes lots of time, patience and skills.
Hello, how many hours this kind of job will take?
It takes me about 1 hour to replace the keyboard but… I’m an experienced tech. 🙂
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.
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!
PH00 works well for me. I’m using a Wiha screwdriver and it fits perfectly.
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,
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!
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”.
Hi there. Do you have any keyboards that you suggest buying over any others? I have a macbook pro 13 a1278 2012 model. Thanks.
@ 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.
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
@ Al Santoto,
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.
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.
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 🙂
I think this Apple discussion can be helpful.
Apparently, if your laptop has a 2GHz processor, it doesn’t support backlight keyboards.
Ah ok I don’t know this, thanks IML Tech good work.
Working thru these instructions, I dropped one of the screws holding the power button. Do you know where I can buy a replacement?
I have a quick question: Which screwdrivers are needed for this job? Specifically, do you ever need the Y screwdrivers?
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
thank you very much! just replaced mine keyboard.
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?
Check if the keyboard cable plugged correctly. Try resetting the cable, make sure it’s in all the way.
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!
I can’t seem to disconnect the camera cable from the logic board. Seems in there pretty tight, and I don’t want to break it by pulling too hard. There’s a bit of paste around it but I think that’s only holding the socket in, not the cable. Anyone have a trick for this?
(early 2011 Macbook Pro 13 inch A1278)
Hi! In Ifixit guide for replacing the upper case, they claim that if you have a broken keyboard you are obliged to replace the entire upper case, which costs about $200. Yet, the ebay link you are providing (the one for Macbook Pro 13″) there are keyboards being offered without the upper case, and with a final cost of $30 approximately. Is there something I am missing? Thanks in advance.
No you are not missing anything.
iFixit recommendation is the same as Apple recommendation. They say if the keyboard failed you will have to replace the entire top cover.
This is not 100% accurate.
If you have a MacBook Pro unibody model 2008-1012 it IS possible to replace JUST the keyboard without replacing the top cover. You will have to buy the correct keyboard on eBay and replace it as I explained in my guide. It takes more time than replacing just the top cover but you can save lots of money.
why did my effin builtin keyboard and mouse disable after removing battery ? mbp 13″ a1278 emc:2554 nothings ripped or connected incorrectly. i do this all day with other non-mac laptops and older macs with no issue,.but this model w/ those sticker sensors i think had something to do wit it wtf i cant use my laptop w/out usb wired keyboard and mouse hella gheto and annoying.
I spilled some liquid on my keyboard and it doesn’t work. I can go to the mac store and pay $250 to get it fixed, or buy one from EBAY and fix it myself.
my question is-
the like you have attached in your article, are they internal keyboards, or are they external keyboards?
I need to replace the internal keyboard. is that what you have linked to in the above article?
i seem to have several issues with my 13 inch late macbook white unibody. thanks to you i have solved one: got it booted up by shorting across the power up pads. the keyboard is flaky and i’m guessing i will need to replace it. but because the power button doesn’t work i’m also assuming i’ll have to replace the top cover? questions are; 1. should one of these be done first? i’ve never done this and guess i might fry something so i will probably go with the cheapest repair first. 2. do you have instructions for replacement of macbook cover and keyboard? can i follow the ones here for replacing the mbp keyboard for my mb? thank you so much.. this is a great website. i had given up on my laptop. cant afford another.
Just finished replacing kybd for coffee spill,now all the keys work, but still getting strange characters on screen, think it maybe the kybd encoder on logic board?? Your comments please…and how do I go about finding those itty bitty silver screws for the kybd…had 60 to start but lost two along the way, they just vanish, earth must swallow them, any part number ?? Thanks so much!!!
Hi thks for the tutorial,
I’m having trouble with the connection flat cable on my 2009 mac book pro, actually the blue film on it doesn’t seems to fit in connector!!! Can it be removd or maybe there is a trick?
Ok I had to take a “tweezer” to onsert it properly…. Cool thks to your tutorial
I have a macbook pro late 2008 model a1286 mb470/ll edition. Due to spillage my keyboard not working now. I searched everywhere in indian websites as i am from india and i couldnt procure one spare. Can i use 2009 or 2010 models or even 2011 model keyboard for my above specified laptop..?? You said in some of your comments here that only two of the keys differ in newer model keyboards…please help me
I have a MacBook Pro 5,3 and see the prices on iFixit for the keyboard are in the $250-$350 range. Is there any place I can get the keyboard and parts necessary to fix it for less? Please e-mail abrody AT macmaps.com if you have a good source in the United States.
I spilled a little wine on mine and according to the tech there the price just went up to close to $1300 for them to fix it. Thanks for doing this!
I would like to remove the keyboard, and use it as a usb keyboard for my other non apple product custom built pc, is this possible? Can’t seem to find any guide online anywhere on this matter
I have a 13-inch 2011 Macbook Pro (13-inch). I’ve seen conflicting things about 2011s. Some say you need to replace the entire topcase. Some say there are rivets. How do you know whether you need to replace the entire topcase in order to get to the keyboard?
Replaced the keyboard on mine after I was quoted a whopping $280 for top-case replacement. I sourced the part from a seller on AliExpress with an excellent reputation, got it in three weeks, and replaced it in about an hour and a half. I had no experience at all with that kind of replacement, but used iFixit’s guides to help. I confirm the Mid-2012 MacBook Pro uses screws, not rivets.
The backlight pattern (large dots) is not the same as the original (more diffuse). I also lost one screw, which annoyed me because I wanted the repair the be perfect.
Paying close attention to how the backlight is attached to the frame, the gaps in it seem very small and could easily be closed with some Kapton tape. This way, a spilled liquid would ruin the keyboard, but reduce the likelihood of it touching the motherboard.
i spilled coffee to my macbook pro 13″ A1278, i turn it off immediately and turn it upside down. after two days i turn it on but it seems that keyboard was damaged ( it was pressing all buttons but it’s own) I replace the keyboard following your instructions but my mac won’t start, when i plug in the battery or even when i try to open it without the power adaptor it make a 3 beep noise! i believe this is ram problem but i don’t see anything wrong there! any advises???
I haven’t tried this yet but I’ve gotten two “new” keyboards through Amazon and both times they were banged up dirty parts…. So watch out
Can I replace my 13 inch logic board with 15 inch
Hi, there . One remark on liquid damaged keyboards . I’ve had this problem before and the solution which worked every time, so far, is you take the keyboard out, wash it under warm tap water, I have also used dish washing liquid and a soft brush, and rinse everything using demineralized water. Leave it to dry properly, usually overnight will do, and that’s it . If that is the only thing wrong with your Mac, it should work as new.
Very good article! Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
I know this is only about replacing the keyboard but since you sounded a very knowledgeable tech to me and in this specific case you have to disassemble nearly the whole laptop, I would like to grab the opportunity (without abusing) and ask your opinion about all other hardware parts.
I am doing my researches for a good two weeks now and won’t stop until I feel confident enough to replace the hardwares that I want on my 13″ mid 12 pro.
It will certainly be much appreciated by me if you could be so kind and help me with informations about the upgrades I am planing to do. (That could be via FaceTime if you prefer, duo to the high amount of information).
For instance, I would like to ask you, based on your experience, if there is something that could be broken or not replaceable when reaching the keyboard as my laptop was “beaten” for a few times, by a child and some of the keys are deep in, half coming off or kinda bent (everything works but sometimes I have to type really heavy to make it work) and perhaps is slowly damaging something sensitive located just underneath. It also had acetone dropped on the key board about a year ago. Some keys felt like on a rigid plastic base with a “cracking” feeling when pressed but they went back to “normal” feeling after using for a while.
I can imagine your disappointment with me not treating a Mac with the care it deserves but I can assure you that I am one of the most careful type of person in the world. very detail with things and those were accidents caused not by me, which devastated me and made me feel very bad for a while.
Backlight stoped working after that as well. Do you think a circuit could be affected? Or a cable, logic board etc?
Thank you in advance for your attention and hope to speak to you in the near future,