Leopard knocks out some MacBook Pro keyboards

Users describe intermittent keyboard failures after upgrade, claim that only a reboot gives them control

Some MacBook Pro users who upgraded to the Leopard operating system are reporting that their notebooks' keyboards and trackpads have gone on the fritz, according to Apple support forums. The only apparent solution: Reboot the machine.

Messages posted in both the MacBook Pro and Leopard forums describe the keyboard problem as cropping up only after moves to Mac OS X 10.5, and they say that it's intermittent. "The keyboard will stop working and become unresponsive -- the caps and num lock lights won't even turn on," said a user identified only as Cub man. "Then after a few minutes, it turns on again and is fine until I let it sit for a while."

Other users, including Stefan Arentz, wrote of nearly identical symptoms. "This is on a MacBook Pro that I bought about a month ago. Now with Leopard the keyboard and trackpad stop working at completely unpredictable moments. The only thing that helps is to connect an external keyboard/mouse and reboot."

And from kenji: "Zero issues whatsoever until installing 10.5. Now, keyboard disappears frequently and intermittently. I would have finished typing this post sooner, but my keyboard was unresponsive every time I opened a new window."

Apple support personnel do not participate in the forums, and other users, while sympathetic, had no definitive answers. Some of the affected MacBook Pro owners added that their keyboards became unresponsive most often after the notebook woke from a sleep state, while others described the problem as if the keyboard itself had dozed off.

"Keyboard seems to go to sleep after a few moments of inactivity, wakes up if I hold down a key for a few seconds," said jonsef on the Leopard thread. "Extremely annoying! I have a new MB Pro, Leopard has been installed for about a week."

Apple-specific blogs and Web sites, including MacRumors and AppleInsider, have recently reported that the first Leopard update has been seeded to testers and may be unveiled soon. There is no reliable list of the fixes that might be included in the 10.5.1 update, however, nor is there a timetable for its release.

The MacBook keyboard problem is only the latest in a series of Leopard upgrade glitches that have included problems with Time Machine and difficulty making and maintaining a connection to wireless networks.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld

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