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Keep your keyboard's keys from getting worn out Apps
If you type a lot, you may find that the letters on the keys of your Mac's keyboard will slowly fade away. In my case, not only do they fade away, but one key - the D key, which, since I use a Dvorak layout, is the E key - actually has some of the plastic worn away. And this is on a wireless Apple keyboard that's only about a year old. (Note that since I touch-type, it really doesn't matter whether I see the keys or notů)

Topher Kessler, writing at CNet, posted an article with some ways to keep the letters from fading. He suggests possibly using a silicone keyboard cover, but I don't think that would be comfortable. But he also recommends using standard cellophane tape, cut into squares that cover the keys.

You probably wouldn't want to do this to all the keys on your keyboard: the most commonly-used ones are those most in need of protection: E, T, A, I, N, and others. (If you're not an English speaker - or typer - see this Wikipedia article which discusses the most common letters in a number of other languages.)

I wonder if there's not another solution though. While I've not tried it, I would think that clear nail polish might do the trick, and might be better than cellophane tape. The tape is likely to peel up from the corners after a while, but nail polish should stay shiny for a long time. I may try this and see how it works on my already-faded keyboard. Any other suggestions for protecting keys?
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Keep your keyboard's keys from getting worn out
Authored by: AaronAPP on Apr 29, '13 08:03:44AM

I wouldn't rule out the rubber membrane solution of the keyboard, it has the secondary benefit of protection spills from entering the (I assume we are talking about a laptop) macbook AND from the gunk that builds up between the keys! If you are really typing, and trying to crush your WPM, then the rubber membrane will take some getting use to... in fact, if it bugs you that much for those occasions when you want to max out your WPM you can just wash your hands and type out what ever you have to type out.

I think the tape sounds like a good idea!

In both cases, tape or silicone keyboard, if worn keys or gunk bug you that much they are probably well worth the effort/time.
Nail polish sounds like a terrible idea, that will chip and wear out over time as well, but be difficult to remove and reapply, like tape would be.



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Keep your keyboard's keys from getting worn out
Authored by: davidmorr on Apr 29, '13 10:26:21PM

Nail polish might well dissolve the plastic of the key as it contains extremely volatile solvents. Try on an inconspicuous place first :-)

It could just be physical abrasion. The effect could be increased or reduced depending on the hardness of the plastic, the force with which the keys are hit, the angle at which the keys are hit, and the softness or hardness of the person's fingertip skin. Maybe even the length of their finger nails.



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Keep your keyboard's keys from getting worn out
Authored by: lrw on Apr 29, '13 09:15:34AM

My keyboard (wireless) more than two years old, is not fading in the slightest. But even if it were, I'm not sure I'd put any effort into preventing it since I never need to look at it. Well, except for the special characters which because I use them less frequently means they will are likely to fade so much.



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perhaps research skin chemistry?
Authored by: sr105 on Apr 29, '13 12:03:49PM

The solutions posted seem valid. However, you might want to look into why your skin chemistry etches your keys while others' do not. Perhaps there is something you can do about that. I have seen keyboards with 10 years of daily use show zero signs of wear and I've known specific people who can erase the paint off of a keyboard in less than 6 months. It's something to do with the individual's skin.



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perhaps research skin chemistry?
Authored by: kirkmc on Apr 29, '13 01:01:30PM

How much do those people, with ten-year old keyboards, type? I write full-time, and I type fast. I write about a a few hundred thousand words a year, probably, between articles, emails and the rest.

---
Mac OS X Hints editor - Macworld senior contributor
http://www.mcelhearn.com



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perhaps research skin chemistry?
Authored by: sr105 on Apr 29, '13 01:21:13PM

I'm a programmer and I assume that there's some average level of typing that we all do. I have seen keyboards that look pristine (like mine) after years. I've known others to wear away the paint on the keys in under a year. I always figure it must have something to do with skin. If you've ever seen a laptop screen with a faint visible outline of the keyboard's center keys, you've seen the effects of the user's skin oils transferred to the keys and then chemically etching the screen. I think it's worth a look. Or pehaps, people who rub away the markings have drier skin than most and the lack of oil aids in the removal? It's all speculation.



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perhaps research skin chemistry?
Authored by: BiL Castine on Apr 30, '13 06:56:23AM

I agree that it's likely related to skin chemistry. I'm in IT and see a large sample of keyboards. Mine never seem to rub away the keys but I've seen others that are almost completely blank and glossy instead of matte. I've always thought it's related to the amount of oil on a person's skin which, over time, can dissolve the paint and fill in the uneven surface that provides the matte finish. I've noticed the effect is more pronounced for people who use a lot of moisturizer on their hands, my hands are relatively dry but not uncomfortably so. I'd suspect that just keeping the fingertips clean and dry would go a long way towards keeping the keys looking good.

I've used the membrane keyboard covers and find them mostly tolerable, plus since you use a Dvorak keyboard you could get one with the "correct" keymap printed on it so anyone who sat down to type at your computer would be a tiny bit less confused when the letters come out "all wrong". Just be sure to wash the keyboard cover, I've seen finger oil actually soak thru them and pool between the membrane and the keys.



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perhaps research skin chemistry?
Authored by: joelseph on May 07, '13 03:25:42PM
I've seen finger oil actually soak thru them and pool between the membrane and the keys.
Congratulations. I think that's the grossest thing I've ever read on macosxhints. =-P

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Keep your keyboard's keys from getting worn out
Authored by: Storm608 on Apr 30, '13 12:13:34PM

I touch-type as well and I use a silicone keyboard skin by Moshi for both my wired numeric pad keyboard and my wireless keyboard. It took a short period to get used to but now I find that there is actually a bit of extra cushioning on the keys. Also, after having had the dog joggle my elbow and spilling my coffee on the skin, I thank the powers that I had the foresight to purchase it.
I would NOT recommend the skin for the keyboard on our MacBook Pro, though. The keyboard is part of the ventilation system for the computer and I would be afraid of it overheating were I to block the keys with a silicone skin.



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Keep your keyboard's keys from getting worn out
Authored by: Reaperducer on Apr 30, '13 04:50:41PM

I have this problem on all of my MacBook Pros with the silver keyboard. On all of them the E, S, A, C, N, M, Tab, Left Shift, and Left Command keys get completely scratched off. On one computer it was so rapid that the people at the Apple Store replaced it for free when I brought the computer in for another problem.

My new MacBook Air has the black chicklet keyboard. We'll see if it suffers a similar fate.



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Keep your keyboard's keys from getting worn out
Authored by: ms_t_rie on May 01, '13 06:17:43AM

I had the same problem with my old Powerbook and the previous Macbook Pro, but I also had long nails at the time, which is what I thought was causing the issue. I've had my current Macbook Pro (with the black keys) for a few years without anything happening to the keys, I figured it was the nails causing the issue, since I decided to cut them down. Though I don't doubt the key material is helping as well, key design is definitely a factor. I've never had keys from the older keyboards from the 386 PCs on up, just on laptops. I haven't used any of the newer external keyboards, so I can't say for sure on those.



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Keep your keyboard's keys from getting worn out
Authored by: petersconsult on May 03, '13 12:34:50AM

One thing against those silicone or rubber keyboard covers:
If you think your portable Mac (PowerBook, iBook, MacBook, MacBook Pro) runs too hot, or makes too much fan noise, avoid those covers!!
Apple has been relying for a while now (especially in the Aluminium MacBook Pro line) on the little space between your keys to release some of the heat inside your Mac. Covering it up with a rubber or silicone cover would mean losing a somewhat important (again, depending on the model) resource for cooling the internals of your Mac.
On a separate note, my mother uses hand creams all the time, and her MacBook Pro's keyboard looks like someone poured dirty sulfuric acid on it... I agree that hand chemistry has a lot to do with it....
Hope this helps,
Peter

Edited on May 03, '13 01:08:55AM by petersconsult



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Keep your keyboard's keys from getting worn out
Authored by: tjuge on Sep 10, '13 08:31:04AM

I am a medical transcriptionst and I type at least eight hours a day, 6-7 days a week. My key letters are constantly fading away, especially the common ones. I do type by touch but would like to have the keys not fade. I have been through many keyboards, not only because of this issue but because of the wear and tear on them. I have tried the fingernail polish trick which made the keyboard last a bit longer and I experienced none of the posted problems. My worst experience was with the stickers, which for someone who types as much as I do, was a disaster. The adhesive actually began to ooze out from under the stickers and down the keys. When I complained to the company, they claimed that I must have gotten a batch that had too much adhesive applied (??) and they promptly refunded me my money. However, once applied, the sticker residue could not be removed, rendering the keyboard useless. So, I would NOT recommend the stickers to anyone. I have just purchased another keyboard, less than two months ago, and the E is starting to rub off. Any recommendations from anyone out there as to a quality keyboard that addresses this problem or if they have found a solution to preventing this in the first place?



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