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Expensive sure beats OMYGOD!

scottmillett -

Mijn probleem

I spilled wine on an Early 2011 MacBook Pro Unitary keyboard. All keys still worked, but backlights were purple or dark in places, and wine is acidic.

Mijn oplossing

$350 (upper case, electronic essentials toolkit, tax & shipping) is a lot of money for a new keyboard, but it surely beats nearly a grand at an Apple Store! That's Apple's fault, not iFixit's.

(1) I bought the Electronics Essentials Toolkit and ran though the entire Upper Case / Keyboard Replacement sequence, disassembly, then reassembly. In between I tried to clean out (and save) the keyboard by flushing it with with water plus mild detergent, then rinsing with distilled water, then drying. (It didn't work; it killed most of the top two rows of keys, plus the "a".)

I took my time, and had another laptop tuned to iFixit's instruction page(s) - nine of 'em - 49 steps to disassemble!

I read in some of the Q&A's about "moisture indicators", but couldn't find out where they were or how they indicated. Turns out they are little 1/16" round white spots, one inside the case just below the touchpad, and several peeking through the black plastic sheet covering the back of the keyboard. Two of mine had turned red, indicating water contamination.

(2) So I ordered the $300 upper case / keyboard on a Tuesday. On Thursday around noon I got the e-mail saying it had shipped...a couple of hours AFTER it had been delivered! (I live in the California desert, four hour's drive from iFixit). I had to wait until today (following Saturday) to do the real replacement. Two and a half hours total - experience helps!

(OBTW: The Essentials kit's smallest Phillips had a minor defect (big burr on the tip that prevented engagement and messed up a trackpad screw), but I was able to go out to my garage and use a small whetstone to grind off the burr. Worked fine after that.)

Also, the end of the instructions regarding the transition to the new case is wrong. It says "install the [touchpad stop Torx] that came with your upper case", and makes no mention of removing the two touchpad mounts/hinges and their black screws. Well, my replacement upper case from iFixit did not come with either the stop piece or the mounts/hinges. No problem; I transferred them from my old upper case, but the otherwise perfect instructions were incomplete on this point, or else my 'new' upper case was shipped incomplete.

Mijn advies

First, These iFixit folks are great!

- They share my distaste for throwing out something that can be fixed.

- They make it easy to ID which Mac you have, so you can order the right parts.

- They have produced EXTREMELY clear instructions, and offer them free to everyone, without membership, passwords, or money.

I'm a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo engineering grad in the '70s, and I'm guessing they are too. Well done, ladies and/or gentlemen!!


(1) iFixit labels this repair "Difficult", but it's not. It's just a lot of steps. I used a sheet of aluminum foil (maybe 2 x 3 feet) to cover the work surface and attached my wrist strap to it. I set the MacBook on it, and as I disassembled, I laid out each removed part left-to-right in sequence; screws then part, screws then part, etc. That way, I never had to wonder WHICH little teeny screws went with THIS part - just reassemble right-to-left.

(2) I followed the excellent photo instructions carefully, scrupulously, and in detail. From lifelong experience (I'm over 60) I knew extra time making sure I did each step right would be faster than backing up and re-doing, or maybe effing things up completely! Took me an hour and a half for disassembly, and the same for reassembly.

(3) From my other hobbies, I have a pair of MagEyes; binocular magnifiers on a headband. Without hands-free magnifiers, I can't imagine being able to do something like this, even half a life ago when I was only 30. On this job, for example, the rear cover screws include tiny, short, NEARLY identical ones. Some of them are "step" screws, and some are not. The difference is just a few thousandths of an inch difference in the thickness of the heads.

(4) If some of your keys go out and you REALLY need your Mac (OS10.6 or later) while waiting for parts, use the mouse to open the Keyboard System Preferences, then click the box that says "Show Keyboard and Character Viewers in the Menu Bar". Then in the menu bar, click "Show Keyboard Viewer". It opens a small (resizable) keyboard that floats over any application. With that, if you have at least one shift or option or command key operating (when you need it), mouse clicks in the floating keyboard window will type the characters into your current application. It's painfully slow, but LOTS better than no capability!

(5) Please note my comments above regarding:

- The smallest Phillips in the Electronics Essentials Kit.

- The touchpad mounting parts issue with the upper case.

- What "moisture indicators" are.

All were minor annoyances, the sort that reduces the grade I assign to iFixit from a solid "A" to an "A-". And they may have been just flukes. If not, I hope the great folks at iFixit take note and fix those problems.

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