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Ask Max: Replacing a sticky keyboard key

Asked on 02/27/2007:

How do I repair or replace a sticky key on the keyboard I use with my Mac mini? I have another keyboard with a faulty key that I could take a key from.


I know the sticky key problem all too well. If it is just one key, you can sometimes just clean it with rubbing alcohol and a Q-Tip(tm). First disconnect the keyboard from the computer. Most keyboards let you remove the keys by prying the key up. Use a butter knife and get under one side of the key and use the knife as a lever to pop the key off. Have a friend or a free hand ready to catch the key. Use the Q-Tip(tm), dipped in rubbing alcohol, to clean the area around where the key was. There is often a shaft in the center of where the key used to be. Make sure to clean down that little shaft. Then clean the key itself in all areas. After the alcohol has evaporated you can replace the key by pressing it down until it snaps back into position.The second option is much more drastic and can kill keyboards. You can actually clean the whole keyboard by putting it in a dishwasher. Place it in the top rack with the keys facing down, and let the dishwasher run without any detergent. After it's done, let the keyboard dry for about a week. Then connect it and see if it works. This does kill some keyboards. Many IT guys use this method because of the number of keyboards they have to clean. Keyboards are cheap and can be replaced, so if a few die in the wash it is better then throwing the keyboard away before attempting to clean it.Hope that helps and let me know how it goes.

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