A Completely Deranged But Effective Way to Fix Sticky MacBook Pro Keys

Blow on it like an old Nintendo.
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Image: Samantha Cole
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State of Repair is Motherboard's exploration of DIY culture, device repair, ownership, and the forces fighting to lock down access to the things you own.

An entire generation grew up with the understanding that the best way to fix broken electronics was to blow on them. For two decades scientists have argued about whether blowing on our video game consoles and cartridges actually did anything, but anyone who was able to get their NES to to switch from a blinking light to the red curtain on Super Mario Bros. 3’s intro knows that our lungs are one of the best repair tools known to humankind.


All these years later, it is time to get reacquainted with the blow-on-it technique. Thanks to a genius YouTube commenter, I have stumbled upon a completely deranged yet inexplicably effective and simple way to fix sticky keys on the notoriously finicky MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboard. As we've previously reported, these terrible "butterfly" keys are felled by mere specks of dust:


As the comment suggests, if you have keys that are sticking, you simply must turn your computer upside down, blow as hard as you can on the key you need to fix, and repeatedly smash that key as quickly as possible. Why this works, I have no idea, but it does: I fixed my girlfriend’s MacBook Pro this weekend using this technique and have the video evidence to prove it. She spilled a half bag of raw sugar onto (and into) her keyboard during a cooking-related mishap.

We bought a bottle of canned air and followed both Apple and various YouTubers’ suggestions to turn the laptop to a 75-degree angle and blast it with air. This helped a little bit, but more than half of her keyboard was still sticky after blowing through nearly a full can of air. The only thing that returned it to full functionality was turning it upside down, aggressively blowing on it (with my mouth), and pushing each and every key lots of times until I felt it getting less sticky. This is a technique that can only be done with your own lungs, because turning a bottle of canned air upside down and spraying it at the computer makes a near-frozen liquid come out which is decidedly not what you want to happen.

The beauty of blowing super hard on the laptop is that you don’t have to take the keyboard apart, meaning there’s no risk of breaking it further.

Of course, while this little trick worked beautifully, having to blow on a laptop until I almost pass out is not an ideal way to fix anything. However, Apple doesn't leave us with many better options: The MacBook Pro is notoriously difficult to repair, and Apple has repeatedly fought legislation that would enshrine the right to repair.