Welcome to TNW Basics, a collection of tips, guides, and advice on how to easily get the most out of your gadgets, apps, and other stuff.

Of all the controversies surrounding Apple in recent years, the Macbook’s keyboard saga has been one of the most troubling. Where once Apple‘s laptops were the pinnacle of design, people were (and still are) struggling to just type on the damn things.

And the reason for this? The butterfly keys.


Well, at long last, it’s being rumoured that Apple is moving away from this type of design and returning to the previous keyboard set-up. But… what actually are butterfly keys? And why have they caused so many problems? Well, we’re here to tell you.

First, how do normal keys work?

Before we can explain what makes a butterfly key different, we first need to look at how a standard(-ish) keyboard mechanism works.

There are a load of different variants (check here for info on those), but one of the most common on laptops — and what Apple is rumoured to be returning to — is the scissor-switch design.

Basically, it looks like this: