Apple Unveils Improved MacBook Keyboard: What You Need to Know

Update May 21 3:23 pm ET: We've added the list of eligible MacBook Pro models for Apple's expanded Keyboard Service Program.

The MacBook Pro’s most controversial issue may finally have a fix.

Credit: Laptop Mag

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Apple says that it is introducing a new keyboard with its new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and 15-inch MacBook Pro that should reduce issues users have had, such as entering characters twice accidentally or key presses not registering. The improved models are available today.

According to Apple, the company made a change to the material in the mechanism to make the Butterfly keyboard more reliable, but it wouldn’t provide further details.

The other big news around Apple’s keyboards is that the company is expanding its Keyboard Service Program. All MacBooks with Butterfly keyboards will be part of the program, whether the product is in or out of warranty, but there is a limit. The program covers eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro models for 4 years after the first retail sale of the unit.

Apple MacBook Keyboard Service Program Eligible Models

  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12­-inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2018)
  • MacBook Pro (13­-inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13-­inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2018)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15-­inch, 2019)

Last but not least, Apple says that it is taking steps to reduce the amount of time it takes for MacBook Butterfly keyboards to be repaired, and that MacBooks and MacBook Pros being serviced will get the same improved keyboards found in the new MacBook Pros.

Some MacBook Pro owners have complained that the service times could be 3 to 4 days or longer. Apple did not give an exact time frame for the repairs going forward, saying only that it is rolling out the new keyboard to repair centers around the world.

Apple will be making more details available on its Keyboard Service Program page for the MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

Overall, this seems like a big step in the right direction for MacBook owners and would-be buyers. The new keyboard won’t give users more key travel, which we have been hoping for, but the design should prove to be more reliable.

We look forward to putting the new MacBook Pros to the test and report on our findings.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.