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Following the release of 2018 MacBook Pro models last month, some customers have turned to the MacRumors Forums, Apple Support Communities, Reddit, and YouTube to report intermittent crackling from the built-in speakers.


The crackling appears to occur spontaneously during audio playback on both 13-inch and 15-inch models, based on a handful of videos shared by customers. As with many crowdsourced issues, there are a lot of variables involved, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what may be causing the problem.





Some customers appear to experience the issue while playing music in iTunes, while others are affected when using GarageBand, or playing a YouTube video. Some users also hear the crackling when running Windows via Boot Camp. It's unclear if the crackling is limited to specific volumes or frequencies.

MacRumors forum members have speculated about possible causes, including radio interference due to a lack of shielding, audio drivers, and the T2 chip.

A few years ago, some customers experienced similar crackling from the built-in speakers on the 2016 MacBook Pro, oftentimes when running Windows via Boot Camp. The crackling was so loud that it often permanently damaged the speakers, resulting in the MacBook Pro needing to be repaired or replaced.

Within days, Apple acknowledged the issues in a support document, and released updated audio drivers for Boot Camp with a fix:
If you installed Windows 10 using Boot Camp Assistant before November 25, 2016 on a MacBook Pro introduced in October 2016, it's important that you install the Audio Driver Update for Boot Camp using Apple Software Update for Windows to avoid issues with your speakers.
The speaker issues with the 2018 MacBook Pro don't appear to be as dire, or nearly as widespread, but enough complaints have surfaced that we wanted to bring some attention to the matter in the interest of those affected.

At least one user claims the issue may have been fixed in the latest macOS Mojave betas, which is unconfirmed. Another user claimed that Apple engineers are looking into the matter. Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Of course, in a production run of millions of new MacBook Pro units, a small percentage may have defective speakers, but this does appear to be an actual issue that hopefully can be or has been addressed in a future software update.

If you are affected by this issue, we recommend contacting Apple Support. In the meantime, some users have shared potential workarounds, such as resetting the System Management Controller and NVRAM, disabling Hey Siri, or simply rebooting, but these solutions may not be ideal or work for everyone.
When Apple introduced refreshed MacBook Pro models back in July, the company also debuted new Leather Sleeves that are designed to fit 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models.

In our latest YouTube video, we went hands-on with one of the new Leather Sleeves to see whether or not they're worth the $179 to $199 price tag.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

Available in Midnight Blue, Saddle Brown, and Black, the Leather Sleeves are similar to the previously available Leather Sleeves for the 12-inch MacBook lineup. The colors match some of the colors of Apple's Leather iPhone case options.

Apple's Leather Sleeves are simple and no-frills, made from a high-quality European leather with careful stitching around the outer edges and an Apple logo front and center. Inside, there's a soft microfiber lining.

Four circles at the bottom of the sleeve match the feet of the MacBook Pro, so this is a sleeve that's only going to work with the 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models from 2016 and on.

When not in use, the Sleeve can be used as a little mat for your MacBook Pro, protecting it from the surface beneath. Unfortunately, there's no access to the USB-C port when the MacBook Pro is in the Sleeve, so it can't be used while charging.

All in all, the Leather Sleeve is going to offer up protection from scratches and bumps, but there's no drop protection here. Most people may want to go with a cheaper option, but at the $179 to $199 price point, Apple hasn't skimped on quality.

What do you think of Apple's Leather Sleeves for the MacBook Pro? Let us know in the comments.
Apple on Tuesday reported that it sold 3.72 million Macs in its third quarter, which spanned April 1 through June 30, the fewest in any single quarter since it sold 3.47 million in the third quarter of 2010.


It's also the first time Apple has sold fewer than four million Macs in a quarter since the third quarter of 2013, a span of five years.

Apple reported sales of 4.29 million Macs in the same quarter a year ago, so this is a pretty significant 13 percent decline on a year-over-year basis. Mac revenue also dropped five percent over the year-ago quarter.

There are a number of possible explanations for the decline, including consumers increasingly shifting towards the iPhone and iPad. Together, those devices accounted for 65 percent of Apple's revenue last quarter, compared to just 10 percent for the Mac. Apple even markets the iPad as a computer replacement.


The bigger reason, however, may have been that nearly the entire Mac lineup was outdated last quarter. Beyond the iMac Pro, released four months before the quarter began, no other Mac had been updated since 2017 or earlier.

Apple hasn't updated its 12-inch MacBook and iMac lines since June 2017, while the MacBook Air has gone unchanged since March 2015, except for a minor increase in clock speed on the base model last year. Worse, the Mac mini hasn't been refreshed since October 2014, and the Mac Pro has gone unchanged since December 2013 while Apple works on a new modular version for 2019.

While the MacBook Pro was recently updated, the new models didn't launch until 12 days after the third quarter ended. Last year, new MacBook Pro models launched at WWDC in early June, well within the third quarter.

Apple's financial chief Luca Maestri highlighted this "difficult launch comparison" in the company's earnings call on Tuesday:
Our year-over-year sales performance was impacted by the different timing of the MacBook Pro launch, which did not occur until early Q4 this year as opposed to June last year.
The month-later MacBook Pro refresh isn't enough to justify Apple's fewest Mac sales in any quarter since 2010, however, as the notebook has been updated at various times over the years. 2016 models were released in October of that year, for example, while 2013 models launched in February of that year.


Apple said it still recorded double-digit year-over-year growth in its active installed base of Macs last quarter, reaching a new all-time high, with nearly 60 percent of purchases coming from customers who are new to the Mac.

Fortunately, updates to the rest of the Mac lineup should be on the horizon. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects the 12-inch MacBook, Mac mini, and iMac to be refreshed later this year, while a new entry-level notebook could replace the MacBook Air. And, as mentioned, Apple says a new Mac Pro is coming in 2019.
Apple today released an important bug fix for 2018 MacBook Pros, which was designed to address an issue that caused the machines to excessively throttle when doing system intensive tasks.

The bug fix came in the form of a supplemental update to macOS High Sierra 10.13.6, which many new MacBook Pro owners have now installed on their machines. Multiple MacBook Pro owners and media sites have been testing the new patch, and the results appear to be largely positive -- the throttling issue has been resolved for the most part and the machines are performing better.


CNET for example, did some before and after testing with a video encoding test. Prior to the patch, the Core i9 machine the site tested saw frequent fluctuations in internal temperature and CPU clock speed, while after updating, the CPU throttling in the Core i9 MacBook Pro ceased, with the clock frequency of the cPU and internal system temperature remaining stable.

Original throttling tests showing frequent fluctuations on left, after patch test on right. Image via CNET

Macworld shared some preliminary test results from its 4K Adobe Premiere test and had similar results, with even clock speed at or above base rather than spiky throttling. Macworld estimates that prior to the patch, the 2018 Core i9 15-inch MacBook Pro was 11 percent faster than the last year's comparable 2.9GHz Core i7 MacBook Pro. After the patch, "it's more like 20 percent faster."


Dave Lee, who highlighted the throttling problem in the first place, tweeted some post-patch test results and said the performance was much better.


Geekbench Labs founder John Poole tested the 2018 Core i9 MacBook Pro after the patch and found that it was faster with a more stable processor frequency. It was slightly slower than the 2018 Core i7 MacBook Pro. Poole says that while long running heavily multi-threaded tasks are going to see similar performance on the Core i9 and Core i7 machines, single and lightly-threaded tasks should be faster on the i9.


MacRumors reader Aea shared pre-patch and post-patch Cinebench benchmarks done with the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Core i9 chip showing the jump in score following the update.


Multiple Reddit users with 2018 MacBook Pro models have been sharing their benchmarking and testing results after installing the supplemental update and have seen significant improvements. This image from Reddit user XNY, for example, depicts a before and after from a 13-inch 2018 MacBook Pro with a Core i5 chip.


Another Reddit user (apple_) confirmed that following the update, his Core i9 machine is performing consistently better.
I did all the original tests and I can confirm, for myself, that I am continuously getting the base clock speed or above in the torture test with Prime 95. Even so much as getting between 2.9 - 3.9 when I was 4 tests in. Also ran cinebench and OpenGL got 106 fps and the cpu test I got above 1000 for every test ran. Thank you Apple for this quick fix and thank you for everyone bringing these issues to light.
The throttling issue was first discovered just a few days after the MacBook Pro models were released, when YouTuber Dave Lee tested the top-of-the-line 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with 2.9GHz Core i9 chip using Adobe Premiere Pro and found that it was underperforming compared to a 2017 MacBook Pro due to what Lee said was an "unacceptable" level of throttling.

Apple reached out to Lee to and worked with him to replicate his workflow, getting to the source of the bug. Apple discovered that there was a missing digital key in the MacBook Pro firmware that impacted the thermal management system, driving down clock speeds under heavy thermal loads. This was a problem that appears to have affected all 2018 MacBook Pro models.

The problem appears to have been successfully addressed in today's macOS High Sierra supplemental update, and Apple has issued an apology to customers who experienced less than optimal performance on their new 2018 machines.

Customers who have a 2018 MacBook Pro and have not installed the update should do so immediately to see the performance improvements for themselves.

Update: Dave Lee, who first found the throttling issue, also uploaded a new video and says the supplemental macOS High Sierra update has successfully fixed the throttling issues that he saw prior to the patch.

Using the same Adobe Premiere render time test, Lee found that the Core i9 MacBook Pro was significantly faster than the 2017 Core i7 model that had beaten it prior to the patch.


Lee went even further and tested six laptops equipped with an i9 from various manufacturers. Unsurprisingly, thicker laptops with better cooling did outperform thinner laptops, including the MacBook Pro. The Alienware 17 R4, Acer Helios 500, and Asus G703 (all very thick) saw higher average clock loads.

The Dell XPS 15 and the Zenbook Pro were right on par with the 2018 MacBook Pro. None of the laptops tested beat the MacBook Pro when it came to noise level though, with the MacBook Pro winning out as the quietest of the bunch. Lee says that overall, the Core i9 MacBook Pro is performing the way that a 6-core MacBook Pro should, but he wishes Apple had engineered a better thermal solution for the i9.
Apple this morning released a new supplemental update to macOS High Sierra 10.13.6, which is designed to address a bug that caused the new eighth-generation quad-core and 6-core Intel processors in the 2018 MacBook Pro models to throttle inappropriately.

The new macOS High Sierra update can be downloaded through the Software Update function in the Mac App Store on all 2018 MacBook Pro models. Today's supplemental update (build number 17G2208) is limited to those machines and is not available for other Macs. A direct link to download the update is also available.


According to Apple, the throttling seen in the higher-end 2018 MacBook Pro with Core i9 chip and other 2018 MacBook Pro models is unintentional.

The throttling issue first came to light on July 17, a few days after the first new 2018 MacBook Pros began shipping out to customers. YouTuber Dave Lee tested the top-of-the-line 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with 2.9GHz Core i9 chip using Adobe's Premiere Pro and found that it was underperforming compared to a 2017 MacBook Pro with a Core i7 chip.


Multiple other tests followed from customers and media sites that obtained one of the Core i9 machines, and many came to the same conclusion, that there was an unusual amount of throttling that was impacting the machine's performance. It was not entirely clear if other 2018 MacBook Pro models were throttling unintentionally, but Apple's patch today suggests that was the case.

While there were many theories as to what was causing the throttling, Apple has discovered that there was a missing digital key in the firmware that impacted the thermal management system, driving down clock speeds under heavy thermal loads. This is what has been addressed in today's update.

Apple has apologized to customers who have experienced less than optimal performance on their new 2018 machines.

Following today's update, customers who own a 2018 MacBook Pro should see an appropriate level of throttling that is common to all devices under heavy load and does not impact performance to the point where the machine is underperforming compared to earlier, less powerful models.

Apple says that customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70 percent faster and the new 13-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 2X faster than 2017 models, as outlined in the performance results on the company's website.
Apple today responded to the throttling controversy surrounding the latest MacBook Pro models, noting that excessive performance degradation under extended workloads is the result of a software bug, with a fix rolling out now in the form of a Supplemental Update for macOS High Sierra 10.13.6.


MacRumors received the following statement from an Apple spokesperson:
Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we've identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro.

A bug fix is included in today's macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended. We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems.

Customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70% faster, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to be up to 2X faster, as shown in the performance results on our website.
The controversy began a week ago, when YouTube tech guru Dave Lee shared a video demonstrating that the new 15-inch MacBook Pro, maxed out with a six-core Intel Core i9 processor, was unable to maintain its base 2.9GHz clock speed while rendering a five-and-a-half minute 5K video in Adobe Premiere Pro.


In fact, the previous-generation 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i7 processor rendered the video in around 10 percent less time, a fact that wasn't well received by customers, some of which threatened to cancel their orders.

Apple says the bug affected performance on not only the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro configured with a six-core Intel Core i9 processor, which has faced the most extreme throttling in tests, but also quad-core Core i7 and Core i5 configurations, extending to the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models.

Some amount of throttling is to be expected on notebooks under heavy thermal workloads, especially ones as thin as the MacBook Pro. Lee, however, argued it is the degree of throttling he experienced that is unacceptable.

Apple says it contacted Lee within 48 hours after he published his video, working with him to replicate his workflow. Apple eventually set up a system with a similar workflow, applied the fix, and both the 15-inch and 13-inch models then matched Apple's advertised performance rates.

A flurry of other YouTube videos and tests surfaced in the ensuing days, with mixed results based on varying workloads.

Marques Brownlee, who hosts the popular channel MKBHD, said the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i9 exported his 8K sample video about 15 percent quicker than the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Core i7. Faruk Korkmaz, who runs the YouTube channel iPhonedo, also found the Core i9 to perform "fantastic."


Apple for its part said it never experienced any issues with excessive performance degradation in its pre-production testing of the 2018 MacBook Pro, completed in June. The company did identify what it calls an isolated bug after digging deeper, and came up with what it calls a simple fix.

To be expected, Apple also talked up the new MacBook Pro, noting how most of what it has been hearing about the notebook from customers—including many professionals—has been very positive, including about performance.

Prior to Apple acknowledging this bug, speculation had mounted as to possible causes. One user believes that the throttling may have related to the power delivery chip, known as a voltage regulation module, reporting an over-power condition, throttling the CPU clock speed to scale back power.

In any case, it appears that Apple has addressed the problem.
A user posting on reddit and in the MacRumors forums has given a detailed account of their findings and attempts to circumvent the throttling previously discovered on the new MacBook Pro 15" models featuring the six-core i9 Intel CPUs.

The user goes on to explain that one of the internal power limits set for the device may not be appropriate for the power draw of the CPU and identical to previous MacBook Pro models, causing the power delivery chip (known as a voltage regulation module, or VRM) to report an over power condition that forces the clock of the CPU down to scale back power. This sets up the same conditions to allow throttling to occur once again.

These conditions may be presenting themselves due to the new six-core design of the i9 CPU featured here. While Intel increased the core count of the CPU, they did not increase the thermal design power (TDP), or the amount of dissipated power manufacturers should plan to have to cool for a proper CPU design. This is an issue because this number usually reflects normal usage, and does not account for turbo modes. It's also likely it can exceed the draw of previous four core CPUs given the similarity of clock speeds and process nodes they are featured on.

A method for tuning this limit is provided in the post, but it requires executing a command manually or via script each time the computer boots, and would likely void the warranty if Apple technicians discovered it. Still, the user posts results of benchmarks showing successive runs with no throttling. Manufacturers will always quote likely reduced component lifetimes if used outside of their specifications, but the results appear stable, and there is no thermal throttling of the CPU, the original suspected cause of this issue.

This fix will not address total system power draw becoming excessive, such as long sustained loads from the CPU and GPU, but it is possible Apple could issue a fix similar to the one outlined in the reddit post that is stable.

As for whether this issue is related to the hardware design of the MacBook Pro, that is possible as well. While iFixit's complete teardown of the current 15-inch MacBook Pro is not yet available, the previous teardown reveals significant differences in the VRM chips that power the GPU and CPU of the device.

GPU power components

The GPU power components seen above are on the top side of the logic board near the GPU die, and thermal grease can be seen on the components, indicating that they interface with the heatsink in the device. This is in contrast to the same components for the CPU, which are featured on the rear side of the logic board with no thermal interface to the top of the package, as seen below.

CPU power components

Additionally, the publicly available data sheets for these parts indicate more differences that suggest their thermal profiles will be different. The International Rectifier part for the GPU features a lower thermal resistance, meaning it can better dissipate its heat to the surrounding areas (board, air, heatsink) than the Intersil part for the CPU. Additionally, it boasts a higher power efficiency, meaning it dissipates less power itself to deliver the same amount of power as the Intersil part.

Along with the heatsink path provided for the IR parts, it's clear they will not be capable of driving the same amount of load in any sustained mode. This makes sense given GPUs can see high loads for longer periods, but this could be an area of improvement for future MacBook Pro models from Apple, especially since it has typically chosen GPUs with very similar thermal design power limits (TDPs) to the CPUs in its MacBook Pro line.
In 2016, when Apple introduced the first MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models, the repair experts at iFixit discovered the notebooks have non-removable SSDs, soldered to the logic board, prompting concerns that data recovery would not be possible if the logic board failed. Fortunately, that wasn't the case.


Apple has a special tool for 2016 and 2017 models of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that allows Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers to recover user data when the logic board fails, but the SSD is still intact.

The tool is essentially a little black box that is able to transfer data from a failed logic board to a functioning MacBook Pro. The box has a flex cable that connects to a data recovery port on the failed logic board, while the box and a functioning MacBook Pro are connected via USB-C to USB-C cable.

Apple's internal Customer Data Migration Tool

Once the logic board is placed into a special holder, and all cables are connected, technicians simply power on the functioning MacBook Pro, open Migration Assistant, and proceed with the standard steps for data transfer.

Customer Data Migration Tool connector on 2016 MacBook Pro logic board

While not fail-proof, the tool is a convenient, last-ditch option for data recovery when a MacBook Pro's logic board goes kaput. But, unfortunately, it appears the tool will not work with the latest models.

Last week, iFixit completed a teardown of the 2018 MacBook Pro, discovering that Apple has removed the data recovery connector from the logic board on both 13-inch and 15-inch models with the Touch Bar, suggesting that the Customer Data Migration Tool can no longer be connected.

MacRumors contacted multiple reliable sources at Apple Authorized Service Providers to learn more, and based on the information we obtained, it does appear that the tool is incompatible with 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models.

Multiple sources claim that data cannot be recovered if the logic board has failed on a 2018 MacBook Pro. If the notebook is still functioning, data can be transferred to another Mac by booting the system in Target Disk Mode, and using Migration Assistant, which is the standard process that relies on Thunderbolt 3 ports.

The data recovery port was likely removed because 2018 MacBook Pro models feature Apple's custom T2 chip, which provides hardware encryption for the SSD storage, like the iMac Pro, our sources said.

Apple's internal 2018 MacBook Pro Service Readiness Guide, obtained by MacRumors, advises technicians to encourage customers to back up to Time Machine frequently, and we highly recommend following this advice, as it now appears to be the only way to preserve your data in the rare event your MacBook Pro fails.

MacRumors also confirmed that Apple's internal document for its Customer Data Migration Tool has not been updated to reflect use with the 2018 MacBook Pro, and nothing else we've seen outlines any alternative solutions.

While it appears Apple itself is unable to recover data from failed 2018 MacBook Pros, the Service Readiness Guide does state that customers can consult with data recovery specialist companies, such as DriveSavers, Knoll, Seagate, and Payam, but it's unclear how they might be able to help.

Update: MacRumors has received the following statement from Mike Cobb, DriveSavers Director of Engineering:
None of the changes mentioned in the iFixit article regarding the MacBook Pro 2018 have had any affect our ability to recover data for our customers. This is due to our advanced capabilities in addressing the logic board. DriveSavers has been very successful in recovering data from the 2018 model as well as all others. It is worth noting that customers need to send us the whole device to complete the data recovery service.
We've reached out to Apple for clarification. If we receive any information, we'll update this article accordingly.
Earlier this week, the repair experts at iFixit opened up the 2018 MacBook Pro, uncovering Intel's new JHL7540 Thunderbolt 3 controller, introduced earlier this year as part of its "Titan Ridge" family.


While the specifications for the JHL7540 lists compatibility with DisplayPort 1.4 on Intel's product database, it's not as clear-cut as it sounds, as support also relies on graphics, which vary by MacBook Pro model.

MacRumors reached out to Apple for clarification. Here's what we learned:
  • The new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models support DisplayPort at High-Bit Rate 3 (HBR3), a signal standard of both DisplayPort 1.3 and DisplayPort 1.4. Apple says the dedicated Radeon Pro graphics can drive up to two 5K displays at 60Hz, each over a single stream.
  • The new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models support DisplayPort at High-Bit Rate 2 (HBR2), a signal standard of DisplayPort 1.2. This is a limitation of the Iris Plus Graphics 655 in these models, as Intel's integrated GPUs do not support DisplayPort 1.4.
What that means:
  • The new 15-inch MacBook Pro theoretically supports DisplayPort 1.4, which Apple confirmed, but at least for now, it still can't drive an 8K display. It could be possible with VESA's lossless Display Stream Compression standard, perhaps, but it's unclear if this can be enabled down the road.
  • For now, then, the new 13-inch and 15-inch models have the same compatibility with external displays as the previous-generation MacBook Pro: up to two 5K displays or up to four 4K displays on the 15-inch model, and up to one 5K display or up to two 4K displays on the 13-inch model.
For comparison, 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models are equipped with Intel's JHL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controller, which supports DisplayPort 1.2.

In related news, Apple has also confirmed that all four Thunderbolt 3 ports on the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar are now full speed, compared to only the two left-facing ports on the equivalent 2016 and 2017 models.
Following the release of the new 2018 MacBook Pro models, iFixit last week tore apart the 13-inch version and discovered the presence of a new silicone membrane underneath the keyboard's butterfly keys that Apple internal documents have since confirmed has been added to prevent dust and other small particulates from causing key failures.

To give us a better look at the new third-generation butterfly keyboard included in the new 2018 machines and how it works, iFixit has done a much deeper dive, exposing the keyboard to debris to test it out.


iFixit exposed the keyboard to a powdered paint additive that glows, allowing the site to track where and how dust accumulates. On the 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard, the dust settled at the edges of the membrane, leaving the butterfly mechanism of the keys protected. The same test was performed on the 2017 MacBook Pro keyboard, demonstrating less protection.
Lo and behold, the dust is safely sequestered at the edges of the membrane, leaving the mechanism fairly sheltered. The holes in the membrane allow the keycap clips to pass through, but are covered by the cap itself, blocking dust ingress. The previous-gen butterfly keys are far less protected, and are almost immediately flooded with our glowing granules.
With a combination of a lot of dust and aggressive typing, the dust did penetrate the membrane-covered key clips, hitting the top of the switch, suggesting that there's still a small potential for failure. iFixit was indeed able to cause the keyboard to fail by adding "a few poorly placed particles" of sand.

While the silicone membrane does not appear to be impenetrable, and there's no way to tell how the barrier will hold up over time as iFixit points out, it's still more protection than offered in earlier versions of the butterfly keyboard.

Following the dust test, iFixit did a more extensive teardown of the new keyboard, tearing it apart layer by layer. After a grueling experience pulling it apart, which explains why Apple has to replace the entire top case when installing a new keyboard, iFixit found that the silicone barrier is a single die-cut and molded sheet.


The keycaps on the keyboard have also been slightly redesigned, measuring in at 1.25mm thickness compared to 1.5mm thickness in the 2017 MacBook Pro, which iFixit suggests is to give the keys room to travel with the addition of the membrane.

The spacebar has been redesigned, with a keycap that easily separates from the butterfly mechanism, a departure from earlier models where the spacebar was more difficult to remove. All of the keys, spacebar included, were easier to remove and harder to ruin, in iFixit's testing.

Apple has not publicly confirmed that the new third-generation butterfly keyboard was introduced to enhance reliability and to cut down on the the key failures that were seen in 2016 and 2017 machines, though the company has informed Apple Authorized Service Providers that this is the case.

Instead, in its 2018 MacBook Pro marketing materials, Apple claims the new silicone barrier was added to introduce a quieter typing experience, an issue that few people seem to have had with the original keyboards.
It has been an eventful few weeks for MacBook Pro keyboards.

Last month, Apple finally acknowledged that a "small percentage" of MacBook and MacBook Pro models with butterfly switch keyboards may experience issues with "sticky" or inconsistently functioning keys, and launched a worldwide service program offering free repairs of affected keyboards for up to four years.


The issues are widely believed to be caused by dust or other particulates, like crumbs from a sandwich, getting lodged in the butterfly mechanism underneath the keycaps, which are shallower than those on previous-generation MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards with traditional scissor switch mechanisms.

Then, last week, Apple surprised us with the release of new 2018 MacBook Pro models, which feature an "improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing," according to Apple's press release. Apple never publicly confirmed if the third-generation keyboard addresses the issues that prompted its service program.

It didn't take long for the repair experts at iFixit to open up the latest 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and discover a thin silicone membrane underneath each key, which they said is clearly to prevent "contaminant ingress," or, in other words, to prevent dust and crumbs from getting stuck under keys.

Then, just hours ago, MacRumors obtained an internal document from Apple, distributed to its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers, that clearly acknowledges that "the keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism," as many people suspected.

Now, in another internal document obtained by MacRumors, Apple has announced that it will be hosting a series of 60-minute web broadcast events focused on servicing Mac notebook keyboards and keycaps.

In the broadcasts, which service providers are instructed to watch "in private in an environment away from customers," Apple says it will discuss the anatomy of the current keycaps, focus on troubleshooting and isolating keyboard issues, and demonstrate how to clean keyboards and replace keycaps.

These training sessions are routine for Apple Authorized Service Providers, but given all of the issues surrounding the MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards as of late, they will likely be very helpful for technicians.

Customers can initiate a repair by reading: How to Get a MacBook or MacBook Pro Keyboard Repaired Free Under Apple's Service Program.
In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers, obtained by MacRumors from multiple reliable sources, Apple has confirmed that the third-generation keyboard on 2018 MacBook Pro models is equipped with a "membrane" to "prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism."

Image Credit: iFixit

The relevant excerpt from Canadian and European versions of Apple's internal 2018 MacBook Pro Service Readiness Guide:
Keyboard and Keycaps
The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. The procedure for the space bar replacement has also changed from the previous model. Repair documentation and service videos will be available when keycap parts begin shipping.
While the U.S. version of this Service Readiness Guide does not mention the membrane, it contains a link to a separate internal document titled "Butterfly Mechanism Keycap Replacement MacBook Pro (2018)" that does:
Caution: The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. Be careful not to tear the membrane. A torn membrane will result in a top case replacement.
In its teardown of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar last week, the repair experts at iFixit were first to discover the thin, silicone barrier underneath the keycaps, and theorized that it was to prevent dust indeed. Apple filed a patent for a contaminant-resistant MacBook keyboard back in 2016.

Publicly, Apple has only confirmed that 2018 MacBook Pro models feature an "improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing," but many suspected that the silicon membrane was actually to prevent "contaminant ingress," fancy speak for the crumbs from your sandwich that you ate at your desk for lunch.

Following years of anecdotal complaints from customers, and a few class action lawsuits, Apple initiated a worldwide service program last month, offering free repairs of 2015-and-later MacBook and 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro keyboards, which are equipped with low-profile butterfly switch mechanisms.

We've already reported about the service program in more detail, but the gist is that those particular MacBook and MacBook Pro models can experience issues with sticky, unresponsive, or inconsistently functioning keys when small particles like dust or crumbs get stuck underneath the shallower keycaps.

Apple confirmed to MacRumors that third-generation keyboards will not be offered as replacements under its service program for 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro second-generation keyboard repairs, likely due to a tweaked top case design.

We've reached out to Apple for comment.