Fix your MacBook keyboard problems with the ingenious Unshaky app

Apple’s third-generation butterfly keyboard was supposed to fix all the previous defects but buyers continue to experience problems with its design, as recently highlighted in The Wall Street Journals’s damning column penned by the ever-amusing, unapologetic Joanna Stern.

A new software-based approach attempts to address double key presses that some Mac notebook owners have been complaining about. As you know, the problem occurs when a speck of dust enters the incredibly tight butterfly mechanism, causing the key to get stuck.

Called Shaky, the app sits in the menu bar, quietly sensing and killing second press of a key that occurs within milliseconds of the first. That’s a very effective solution to the stupid problem that Apple in its pursue of thinness foolishly brought onto itself.

Apple made it difficult to replace only the keyboard and it costs hundreds of dollars. Unshaky might save your keyboard by dismissing such ‘second key hits’ (any key presses that occur no later than x milliseconds after the previous effective one). I fixed my ‘w’ key with Unshaky. If it does not work for you, open an issue here.

Click the menu bar icon to see how many double presses the app has ignored so far. “Since installing it, I rarely get a repeat ‘E’ or ‘R’,” Joanna said.

To make Unshaky truly useful, click the menu bar icon and choose Configuration to bring up the settings interface. From there, you can adjust the delay for each key separately, which will come in handy when specific keys become stuck or begin working unreliably.

Adjusting the delay on a per-key basis

Unshaky was developed by Xinhong Sam Liu, a 25-year-old grad student in Vancouver, British Columbia. The homebrewed software is currently in beta and can be downloaded for free either through the official website or from the Github release page.

If you’re concerned about your privacy, you’ll feel a little better knowing that this app does not send out any user information to the cloud nor does it record your keystrokes.

The image below illustrates how Unshaky works.

To learn more, visit the official Unshaky website.

The butterfly keyboard debuted in the twelve-inch MacBook and has since expanded to all Mac notebooks, including the 2016 and later MacBook Pro models and the 2018 MacBook Air. Currently in its third-generation, the keyboard mechanism continues to exhibit hiccups.

Apple has recently apologized to the affected customers, saying only “a small number of users” are still having issues with the butterfly mechanism. In the summer of 2018, the iPhone maker launched a keyboard service program to fix or replace your stuck keys at no charge, or get refunded in case you had already paid for an out-of-warranty replacement.

Interestingly enough, the program excludes the 2018 MacBook Pro models.

Those machines come outfitted with the third-generation butterfly keyboard with a silicone membrane under each key in order to help prevent debris from entering the mechanism while making the keyboard quieter to type on. The 2018 MacBook Pro is still under Apple’s 1-year warranty so there’s really no reason to cover it with the replacement program, yet.

But seriously, how cool would it be if Tim Cook and company “fixed” the MacBook keyboard problem by implementing Unshaky-like algorithms in macOS, boosted by machine learning?

If you haven’t yet read Joanna’s wry take on the situation, be sure to watch her video embedded above or head over to The Wall Street Journal to read the column—the article even includes little switches that allow you to view the story with and without e’s, r’s or double-e’s.

Should Apple just admit defeat and design a whole new keyboard?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.