Uh Oh: Apple’s MacBooks Have a New Keyboard Problem

Apple's storied troubles with its Butterfly-switch keyboards — which are haunted by reliability issues and sparked dual class-action lawsuits— appeared to be over. However, new reports of a seriously annoying space bar problem suggest otherwise

According to many user-published reports — including those collected during the last three months in this Reddit thread — the third-gen Butterfly Switch keyboards aren't exactly fixed. Rather than keys dying on users, though, the 2018 MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs suffer from a randomly-occuring issue where clicking the space bar enters two spaces. 

For  example,  those  suffering  under  this  bug  would  type  like  this.

Many had thought the membrane layer under the keys of the 3rd-gen Butterfly keys would protect against failure. I didn't experience such issues during my 2018 MacBook Air or 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro reviews, nor did it occur during my extended month-long hands on testing with the Retina Air.

I first heard about this issue when long-time macOS reviewer John Siracusa brought it up on his show, Accidental Tech Podcast, declaring he "saw double spaces appearing when [I] hit the space bar on my 2018 MacBook Air." Then, once you start to dig around, you keep finding other examples.

Siracusa also mentioned that the musicians Paul and Storm also tweeted their frustration with this issue:

[P] HIVE MIND/@siracusa: Have a 2018 MBP; spacebar semi-regularly inserting double-spaces when pressed. Key repeat is turned off. Can't consistently reproduce error, but it happens a LOT. Googling problem reveals few clues, other than a few others experiencing this. Any ideas? — Paul and Storm (@paulandstorm) December 20, 2018

David Bressler in New York tweeted on Jan. 11 that he's "sending [his] MacBook back for the fourth time because of the space bar." Tony Tsobanis, located in Bangkok, Thailand, tweeted about this, saying he brought it "into Apple" where they took "zero diagnosis" and "immediately orders replacement internals."

Twitter user @ishanagarwal24, a self-described "Tech Leaker" located in India, also feels the pain:

🙋🏻‍♂️ Me! I don’t know why but even after pressing space bar once, the input comes out to be twice and it is utterly annoying! I don’t know what to do as sometimes it doesn’t show the problem but when it does I get so frustrated! MacBook Pro (13”) 2018 with Touch Bar here. pic.twitter.com/GB3UYftvW6 — Ishan Agarwal (@ishanagarwal24) December 24, 2018

While it seems Apple is eager to service MacBooks facing this annoyance, handing off your laptop for days might be too much for those who rely on them. And since it doesn't seem like the first repair can fix the issue outright, users facing this issue may just have to get used to deleting half of their spaces, or running a find and replace that swaps all double spaces for single spaces.

I've reached out to Apple for comment, and will update this story if I get a response.