MacBook Pro: The butterfly keyboard effect

A few months ago, I wrote about how my one-year-old MacBook Pro’s keyboard keys stopped working if a single piece of dust slipped under there, and more importantly, that neither Apple nor its Geniuses would acknowledge that this was actually a problem. Today, Best Buy announced it is having a significant sale on these computers, marking them hundreds of dollars off. Interesting. Still, I’d suggest you do not buy them.Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline

“I’ve said repeatedly that I love the new MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboard and, though I still have an older MacBook Pro, I now dislike typing on it. It feels loosey-goosey,” Rene Ritchie writes for iMore. “The current MacBook Pro is the best MacBook I’ve ever used, keyboard included. But, I’ve also said repeatedly, the new butterfly-switch keyboards remain so divisive that, for a single-vendor product, that in-and-of-itself is a problem that needs to be addressed.”

This keyboard has to be one of the biggest design screwups in Apple history. Everyone who buys a MacBook depends upon the keyboard and this keyboard is undependable. — John Gruber, Daring Fireball

I know that we Apple-watchers sit around wondering if Apple will release new laptops with new keyboards that don’t have these issues, but Apple’s relative silence on this issue for existing customers is deafening. If these problems are remotely as common as they seem to be, this is an altogether defective product that should be recalled.Jason Snell, Six Colors

“Apple is acutely aware of the complaints surrounding the butterfly-switch MacBooks and MacBook Pros. When prominent members of the community amplify the issue, it doesn’t go unnoticed,” Ritchie writes. “Not at any level.”

“What’s frustrating to many is that it often takes a painfully long time for Apple to say anything about anything — the company has a measure-10-times-cut-once philosophy — and, if the company has nothing to say, the company says nothing. And, unless and until the company says anything, it’s impossible to know which of those states we’re in,” Ritchie writes. “Except, of course, the negative sentiment around the butterfly-switch keyboards may eventually force Apple into action either way.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Where Apple’s reinvention of the keyboard may go next: Full touchscreen – March 14, 2018
Apple in talks to acquire Australian startup Sonder for dynamic key-morphing Magic Keyboard – October 13, 2016


  1. It’s also WAY too loud! I HATE loud keyboards. The major factors that keeps me from upgrading my impeccable mid-2012 rMBP 16GB RAM 1TB SSD are:

    1) Price: it would cost me upwards of $3600 to replicate my current rMBP including all the dongles I would need
    2) I HATE loud keyboards (did I mention this? 😉 )

    Yes, the new rMBPs are a bit lighter- but so what? When you add in all the dongles (for home, for work and for the plane), the weight difference is negligible, but the cost and the noise difference is palpable.

    BTW, I need a whole slew of dongles:
    – 27″ Cinema displays at home and work
    – DVD Drive (yes, I still use these on occasion- like duplicating hospital MRI disks)
    – SD cards & thumb drives (using these less, but still using)
    – My printer (sometimes my HP Deskjet is visible over the network, sometimes not; I don’t know if it’s the printer or my Mac, but sometimes I just have to plug it in to print- although scanning always works over the air- weird).
    – Charge my iPhone (USB-A) & Apple Watch (at work)
    – External keyboard
    – Charge my Magic Trackpad II

    The list of legacy devices goes on and on. None of them have USB C (not even my new iPhone X). So there’s a MAJOR disincentive to upgrade…

  2. Obsession opposed to reality. Apple is mired in this.

    Apple wants thin and light. Customers want rugged and reliable.

    In the last 5 years I have never (& I mean this) heard a MacBook Pro user complain about a MBP that is too thick.

    The users who want “light” went to a MacBook Air. Great, but almost none of the people I know have an air unless it is a 2nd MacBook.

    Jony Ive has become so infatuated with his titled fame that he is now clueless and probably doesn’t have time to use Mac Book Pros anymore since he drives his Aston and flies his Gulf Stream so much.

  3. I mentioned that I needed a new Macbook Pro as my 2013 display , keyboard and battery was shot.

    Apple replaced it all for free, gave me a *new 2013. totally referbished, I didnt even ask.
    So try that. They stand behind old products, It doesnt make them much money, but i’ll go back 3 years from now. ( as if i dont buy a ton of other crap for family anyway )

  4. MacBook Air is my laptop of choice – old keyboard, old ports, thin and light, and 12 hr battery. Wont buy any other Mac laptop BECAUSE OF THE BUTTERFLY KEYBOARD!!!

    1. Well, my next MBP will be bought off eBay for a 2012-2014 model.

      I’ll find one with little use and use it for another 5 years … in time for Apple to finally release a bullet proof keyboard.

    2. My MBA 11 is my workhorse too. If I had to save one object in a fire it would probably be this. I use it for music, heavy photo editing, work, surfing, movies, charging hub, etc. I slip it in a sleeve and take it on the road.

      It’s a great little machine but has buggy wifi and the screen is starting to fail. So I finally convinced myself to go ahead and replace it with a macbook – I was initially hesitant because of the ridiculous lack of ports.

      Then i researched the butterfly effect, and that’s definitely a deal breaker. Guess I’m going to have to nurse my MBA along for a while longer.

      Size/portability is very important to me, but not at the expense of reliability and funtionality. I live in a large university town and the kids here use MBAs like crazy. Based on that sampling the MBA really hit the sweet spot for Apple. Why they wanted to screw that up I will never understand.

  5. I hate typing on any portable. I always use an external keyboard and hopefully plugged in monitor. Only unless I have to but that’s the portable advantage – you can if necessary. And it saves the built-in keyboard and you can type on the external keyboard (Matias) of your dreams.

  6. The “chiclet” keyboards on my previous 2006 MB, 2013 MBP and 2015 MBP are perfect; just the right balance between too much and too little travel.

    The butterfly ones I’ve tried in store travel too little.

  7. With both a MacBook, a MacBook Pro and now an iMac, I have just substituted the Logitech K811 bluetooth keyboard. It has restored my sanity. Nothing (other than Windows) has given me more grief in over 30 years of computing than the current Apple keyboards.

  8. I’m in the “Rene Ritchie” camp. My primary keyboard for the last three years (almost exclusively) has been the one using the original butterfly key mechanism design incorporated in my 2015 MacBook laptop. My fingers fit the keyboard perfectly. And, after three years enduring field work and food crumbs, the keyboard has not failed. (Perhaps I’ve been lucky). I will say that the second generation design in which the keys have a “tad” more travel range does feel better. But I can’t fault the this keyboard’s overall performance during the past three years.

  9. Just bought a 2016 MBP with the butterfly KB.
    1. I don’t mind the action at all, helps type with a lighter touch.
    2. Yes, it is kinda loud.
    3. I miss a regular USB port and a SD slot a LOT more than the old KB.
    4. MacBook PRO—most A/V pros are heavily invested in Firewire, Apple must make a USB-C to FireWire dongle. Did all the Apple AV people get rid of their FW gear when USB-C came out? Does Apple even talk to their AV people?
    5. Trackpad is almost too big, not unusual to trigger it accidentally when typing. Doesn’t happen too often, but more than it should.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.