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Keyboard backlight only glows in center

Wine spillage on the right side of my keyboard has caused inconsistent backlight. It works but only in the center. The left side did not recieve spillage so I guess it is not the sensor. What else could cause this?

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I have the same issue after a very small coffee spill on the right side of my MBP 13" unibody. I only have lightning in the center of the keyboard. I cleaned under the keys but no success to restore the lightning. The question is: why is the center working and not the left side ?


The LED's for the light guide are unfortunately placed on the right side of the keyboard. Resistors, ribbon cable and LEDs would thus be damaged


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Hi! If wine has spilled on the keyboard, it's pretty safe to say that's the cause, and most likely the electronics responsible for lighting up the dark keys have been fried. However, I'd try popping off a key that is not lighting up, and clean the area underneath with a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol, and then put the key back on and see if that helps, in which case you can remove the other keys and follow the same procedure. I've seen illuminated keyboards that appeared very dim or dark due to hair and dust, so I imagine wine might have had the same effect assuming the electronics haven't been fried and it's simply a case of residue covering up the lights. Good luck!

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many thanks, I was very quick, and thorough, when the accident happened, to pull keys off ( breaking the D in the process ) to clean the area under the spillage, so I guess it is a fried electronics situation. Looks like I will have to live with it until I can afford a repair.


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Update on "backlight only glows in centre"

My A1260 had the same problem. Someone dropped some sugary substance on the keyboard before I got it.

I thought the lights were behind the keys and that the circuitry was damaged by the liquid. I pulled the keyboard of and fully apart (tricky job and very time consuming)

As it turns out (as Thomas pointed out) the backlight system is spectacular! there are 3 layers on the bottom of the keyboard just for the backlight system.

From bottom up here is a description.

1 ) White plastic layer. This contains a small circuit and 4 LED. These are sealed so they cannot be damaged by a simple spill

2 ) Transparent Perspex layer: The 4 Leds on the white layer fit into 4 slots on this perspex sheet. This sheet has several white dots that serve the purpose of reflecting the light that comes from the diodes at 90 degrees up to the key. the density of the white dots vary to ensure equal illumination of all the keys. Brillianyt idea!

3) a thin plastic transparent layer with a black grid whose purpose it is to absorb the light that would otherwise be reflected in between the key spaces.

The reason my keyboard was only illuminated in the centre is not because the circuitry or faulty LEDs but simly because the liguid had altered the refraction/reflection qualities of the clean perspex layer.

I simply immersed them in warm water for an hour or so and then gently dried them with a cold airflow from a hair dryer

You must pay particular attention to the 4 slots on the perspex layer. This forms a little pocket where liquids will coleect and dry, thereby altering the light reflected /refracted.

The sweet substance had made many keys sticky so I took the whole keyboard apart and washed it in warm water. The key contacts are sealed in between 2 glued silicon layers. No water gets in.

The job took a few hours but now my keyboard is like brand new!

Thanks to Thomas and to iFix it

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Thanks a lot for this post, I followed the same procedure and could completely fix the backlight problem on my macbook Pro.


Hi what glue did you use to re-glue the black layer under the keyboard?


I don't think you need to separate the layers, I just kept the layers stuck together and when washing them in water, the water gets between them enough to clean them out.


John I posted this question originally and I just wanted to clarify one thing is it necessary to dismantle the mbp or can this be done simply by taking off the keys . I'm sorry if this sounds like a dumb question I do not want to dismantle the mbp but if this problem can be approached from the keyboard I might just tackle it

Many thanks Rob (daydreamer)


only thing you eill need to remove or dissmantle, is your palmrest assembly. it is a complete assembly, all with power button, trackpad and keyboard.

so, your answer is: GO for it... and let us know the results...


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Well, your question is already older, but I just went through the cleaning process myself and I thought I might post my opinion as a short supplement.

Yes, that would help, but you would buy many parts, you actually don't need.

If you are patient (and like this kind of work), you could as well disassemble your mbp according to the guides on ifixit and clean/readjust the backlight.

The backlight consists of a thin transparent plastic board with white color spots and six holes. A second plastic sheet fixes six white LEDs in the six mentioned holes so that they illuminate the plastic board, which shines brightest at its white spots. Although the LED sheet is glued to the transparent board, you can carefully peel it of and reattach it.

I assume either one of the LEDs (2 columns with 3 LEDs each, about under "R","F","C" and "U","H","N" keys) is dusty, so a whole part of the board can't be illuminated or if you spilled a sticky substance, the transparent board caught more and more dust and thus is too dark.

Good luck!


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Many thanks Thomas for your advice. Ihave not been brave enough yet to attempt to dismantle my mb as it works perfectly and I have learnt to live without the illuminated keyboard.

I guess i will wait until it gets a bit older and I can afford to update it then I will have a fiddle!

Regards Rob


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Thomas, your answer is nothing short of brilliant!

I dismantled the keyboard completely thinking that the lights were under the keys, but they are not. The A1260 keyboard has 4 LEDs attached to a white sheet which illuminates sideways the transparent sheet with the white dots.I have not put it all back together again... wish me luck John

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Rob. The question is not dumb. If your keys are a little sticky you can remove the affected keys gently and wash them and the plastic assembly underneath them. This is not hard to do but you have to be careful not to brake them as you snap them out and in. If you want to fix the backlight in the centre of the keyboard issue you will need to open the MBP. Opening it is quite easy, all the instructions are on this website. Once you have removed the top cover from the MBP aluminium chassis it is easy to remove the keyboard. Then you have 2 options

1) dip the whole keyboard in warm water with a few drops of dishwashing detergent. shaking it gently for a few minutes. Now you have to rinse it in another container with warm running water. To dry it you should use COLD air from a compressor, directing the air from the external edges of the board so that all the layers inside are dried. Alternatively you can dip the keybpoard in a solution made up of 50% water and 50% ethanol or methylated spirit, shake it and now insert it in a solution made of 80% ethanol/spirit. Now it will dry easily with cold air from a hair dryer. Leave it in a warm place (say 40 degrees celsius) for a few hours and your keybopard will be clean and dry

2) pull it apart and wash each of the 3 individual sheets that make up the light system. If the keys are not sticky you will not need to remove the keys so the job will be quite easy.

You should do this only if you are ready to buy a new keyboard to replace the soiled one.It will give you the courage to attempt the dismantling/fixing option

Good luck

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I had this problem after spilling cider on my MacBook Pro. In the end I restored the sticky keyboard, and backlight using a shower and a hair dryer.

I dismantled the whole thing using iFixit's guide to removing the top case. Then I peeled off the plastic backing to the keyboard including the LEDs, and the next 2 plastic layers which had lots of cider trapped between them, I then undid all the little screws and removed the keyboard.

I then thoroughly washed all those 3 parts (including the keyboard) in the shower, and dried them using a towel and then a hair dryer on cold.

Put it all back together, and it's like new!! :)

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i resolved my issue by pulling the three lyres behind the keyboard and washed them with hot water and dishwasher detergent and the dried them with hair dryer, and it worked like brand new keyboard

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