Mac Randomly Double Typing Keys or Double-Spacing Between Words? This Might Fix It

Mar 13, 2019 - 38 Comments

How to fix Mac double typing keys issue

Have you ever been typing on a Mac laptop keyboard and noticed that hitting the spacebar sometimes randomly inserts double spaces between words? Or maybe you’re typing some other letter and randomly two of that key is doubled-typed? Some MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook users have discovered this happens seemingly at random, where hitting a key or the spacebar actually inserts two spaces or two characters instead of one, which is a nuisance at best and problematic at worst.

Mystery double key presses are a well-documented issue with some MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook computers, and while it’s not clear what causes the issue or how widespread the problem is, if you’re encountering the double typing issue yourself, you may find a settings change in Mac OS can help reduce the frequency, or even fix it entirely. We’ll also cover a few other possible troubleshooting options for addressing double typing issues on Mac laptops.

How to Fix Double Typing Key Problems on MacBook Pro & MacBook Air

Note this settings change may not resolve the double typing problem for everyone, but for some Mac laptop users it does appear to completely remedy the double typing key and double spacebar issues. It’s a simple settings change either way and thus is worth a try, here’s what to do:

  1. Pull down the  Apple menu and go to “System Preferences”
  2. Go to the “Keyboard” preference panel, and choose the Keyboard tab
  3. Locate the “Key Repeat” slider setting and adjust it to the “Off” position
  4. How to fix double typing keys on Mac by turning off key repeat

  5. Exit out of System Preferences
  6. Open any typing application (TextEdit, Word, Pages, etc) and try to replicate the double-typing issue by typing sentences and phrases as usual, the double space and double typing issue should be resolved

If you’re able to successfully type sentences, phrases, spaces, keys, letters, numbers, and anything else without double-typing occurring, then your issue may be resolved entirely by this simple settings change. If the double typing problem is now resolved when this feature iso ff, that could indicate a bug associated with the Key Repeat functionality in MacOS, though that’s purely speculation.

Unfortunately not all MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air users will have such luck, and some Mac laptop owners may discover they issue persists despite changing the key repeat settings.

Mac Laptop Still Double Typing? Clean the Keyboard!

If the Mac is still double typing characters and spaces, the next thing you should do is clean the Mac keyboard, which can be made easier with an app called ‘Keyboard Cleaner’ that temporarily blocks the keys on a computer so that they can be pressed down without inserting any characters. Typically wiping down the keys with a very lightly damp cloth or

If you have a 2016 or later MacBook Pro with the newer flat keyboard design, then you can also choose to follow this official instruction set from Apple on cleaning a MacBook / Pro keyboard which involves a series of gymnastic movements of the computer with precise angle instructions, rotation suggestions, and directional recommendations on how to blast a keyboard with a third party compressed air canister. It’s a fascinating support guide, and the method described using compressed air might work to resolve key issues for you.

Help, my MacBook Pro / MacBook Air keyboard is still typing double-spaces and double keys!

If you cleaned the keyboard and made the above settings change to Key Repeat and yet you find your Mac laptop keyboard is still randomly repeating keys when pressed once, it is possible the MacBook Pro, MacBook, or MacBook Air keyboard has a physical hardware problem.

The good news is that Apple actually has an extended service program for faulty keyboards on some Mac laptop models, including all 2016 MacBook Pro models, all 2017 MacBook Pro models, all 2015, 2016, and 2017 12″ MacBook models (note the keyboard program does not include any 2015 MacBook Pro or Air model, which had a completely different keyboard design). In fact, the first keyboard issue identified by Apple with the faulty keyboards on some Mac laptops is “Letters or characters repeat unexpectedly”. Thus if your Mac laptop falls in that model release year, you may be able to get a free keyboard repair. If you aren’t sure which model year Mac you have, you can check when a Mac was built and what the Mac model is with these instructions.

The “Keyboard Service Program for MacBook and MacBook Pro” from Apple covers many modern Mac laptops with the new flat key keyboard design. Interestingly, the 2018 model year MacBook Pro and 2018 MacBook Air are not included in the keyboard repair program list, despite those Mac laptops having the same flat keyboard design, and despite some users have issues with double-repeating keys as well (yours truly included with a max-spec 2018 Retina MacBook Air, hence part of the motivation of this article).

Regardless, if you have a 2018 model year Mac laptop that is experiencing the double-key press issue, and cleaning the keys or disabling the aforementioned ‘Key Repeat’ does not work to resolve the double-typing keyboard issue for you, you might want to reach out to Apple Support anyway, because many 2018 Mac laptops will still be covered under the limited warranty.

Did the above key repeat trick stop your Mac laptop from erroneously and randomly typing double spaces and double key entries? Did you find another solution? Share your experiences with the random double key press issue (assuming you’ve encountered it) in the comments below!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

38 Comments

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  1. Frank Daly says:

    I have the ‘space repeating’ issue on my MacBook Air 2018 (despite turning off key repeat) and I thought I might be able to use the System Preference / Keyboard / Text option to replace two spaces with one space, however, the UI just ignores it when you try to enter two spaces and replace with one space. I’m sure there is a file which contains all these text replacements and perhaps I could edit it to insert the above replacement, bypassing the UI. Any suggestions on how to do it?

    • mojti says:

      The keyboard is probably failing on your MacBook if the keys are repeating. The modern keyboard design on every modern Apple MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air laptop has keyboards that Apple acknowledges are prone to failure. Fortunately, they will replace the failing keyboard for free.

      You can get more details here:

      https://www.apple.com/support/keyboard-service-program-for-mac-notebooks/

      All of these software workarounds are just that, they are workarounds to a failing keyboard.

    • artur says:

      Compressed air in the can is the answer. It will mostly help at least for some time, then you can repeat the process when needed. Keyboard replacement is short term solution as eventually the problem will reappear.

      • Amir rossi says:

        Compressed air is not the answer. There is no PC laptop out there that jams up and fails with this regularity and where canned air is required to use the keyboard. No other Mac laptop prior to the horrible redesign needed this either, this is a keyboard design failure.

        The answer is replacing the bad keyboard because the keyboard design is defective, which is why Apple has a program to replace keyboards for every single Mac laptop for sale.

        My keyboard is double typing spaces and periodically missing letters when I type, only the ‘autocorrect’ feature saves the latter problem because at least it figures out usually what I was trying to type. The double spaces is SO annoying for Python, development, command line, etc where EXACT SYNTAX IS NECESSARY and spaces are considered characters. This keyboard is just plain awful and unreliable. And I don’t like the Touch Bar either, having no Escape key is a bad experience, and accidentally touching the goofy Touch Bar is annoying too. Worst laptop lineup from Apple they’ve ever had if you ask me, and I’ve been using Macs since the Powerbook 140.

  2. same issue is happening here brand new keyboard and it’s impoossible to type after 8 months I am typing as is s youo . can see what happens this is all happening now!

    Do not buy macbooks they make this fancy touch bar which is useless but they keyboard doesnt even work

  3. Michelle says:

    I had this issue. The dash – kept repeating even when i was not hitting the key on the keyboard. It would just keep inserting dashes into my text.

    Took it to apple. No help. Really disappointing. All they could say was: “Sorry, we can’t fix it. It’s out of warranty (by 6 months) so just buy a new one for $150 AUD.”

    Hmmm. No thanks.

    while Iwas waiting for them to get me a price on anew keyboard I googled it and YouTube was helpful.

    Came home and performed surgery.
    Lifted the key out.
    Cleaned it with isopropyl alcohol (although it didn’t look dirty). Blew on it. Still repeating…cleaned it a few more times. Still going.

    Finally decided to wedge a very thin piece of cardboard (taken from the keyboard box itself (the bit that holds the charging cord), cut very thin and wedged it between the thin plastic that holds the circuitry and the aluminium as these sit on top of each other.

    No idea why this worked, but it did. Happy days.

    Problem solved.
    The the = sign started doing the same thing.
    Repeat the same surgery.
    Problem solved.

    $150 saved.

    Apple is losing its brand reputation in a big way.
    I used to rave about apple and their customer service. They would go out of their way to help you solve any problem.

    Nowadays, they just seem to be about the $$$ and looking cool.

    Such a shame. Products used to be so good.

    • Tn says:

      Michelle it sounds like you’re describing an external keyboard rather than a MacBook Pro keyboard? Is that correct?

      I haven’t heard of keyboard failures with the Apple Magic Keyboard but I am sure they happen sometimes.

      The consistent keyboard problems are associated with the 2016, 2017, 2018 MacBook Pro and 2018 MacBook Air, and is very frustrating to say the least! Design is how it works, and these keyboards don’t work reliably for a good number of people and they are not enjoyable to use either, I guess that means bad design?

  4. Keyboard not working says:

    This . problem is persistant and I can’t figure out w hat i s wrong with the keyboard. I have tried many different . things to fix it and nothing is working my laptop is brand new and I can’t even type a paper without double keys being pressed. Even writing this paragraph you can see the double typing that has happened. This is pathetic and the keyboards should be recalled as soon as possible.

    • stas says:

      Before you give it to the Apple Service, I advice you to install free utility called “Unshaky”. It helps a lot, and in this case, double keystroke will almost disappear

      • Pedro says:

        I don’t think you should use a hack if you can get the hardware replaced by Apple.

        The fault is with hardware, not software.

        These third party hacks like Unshaky or even disabling the repeat-type thing in this article are simply workarounds to an obvious hardware problem that has existed since 2016 when they first intro’d this keyboard. I am using this keyboard right now and it’s the least reliable and most unpleasant I have ever typed on, I get repeat keys, double spaces, etc. It’s a mess. Apple should do a full product recall and replace them all free of charge with a new fixed keyboard. And I’m on the “third gen” keyboard with MacBook Air 2018 and it’s still jamming up and messed up, so it was not fixed last year either despite putting the plastic sheet underneath it. If dust is jamming up a keyboard, the keyboard design is bad. End of story.

        My opinion: if your keyboard acts up and is typing double or missing letters, get the keyboard hardware replaced right away by Apple. Keep replacing it and hounding Apple Support.

        It’s a shame such a great computer is marred by this keyboard, the 2018 MacBook Air is really great except for the keyboard.

  5. Thiskeyboardsucks says:

    Add another entry into the saga of this disaster of a keyboard

    https://theoutline.com/post/7315/apple-keyboards-still-suck-insanely-bad

  6. Zach says:

    I’ve had the same problem with many keys. It usually goes away/changes keys after a while, so I’m assuming that it comes from dust. I just ordered a keyboard protector and I hope it fixes the problem because dust will no longer get within keys.

    • Donna says:

      I have a keyboard protector and it makes no differencewhatsoever. In fact, Iremoved the keyboard protector thinking that was what was causing the problem. Didn’t help at all.

  7. ANNOYED says:

    The problem is the keyboard design, not a software setting.

    This is so well known, it is a complete and total failure on the behalf of Apple to let this go on for years now with no resolution.

    Here is an excoriating article in the Wall Street Journal about this well known widely experienced horrible MacBook keyboard problem

    https://www.wsj.com/graphics/apple-still-hasnt-fixed-its-macbook-keyboard-problem/

  8. FixItRight says:

    Personally, if you don’t want to go through apple and get it fixed “https://www.apple.com/ca/support/keyboard-service-program-for-macbook-and-macbook-pro/” there is a much better option than what is presented in this article.

    https://github.com/Aahung/Unshaky

    I have been using it for at least a month and have forgotten my keyboard was even broken.

    • Paul says:

      FixItRight, thanks for mentioning this tool, I will test it out on my MacBook Air (2018 Retina model) and see if it resolves the key repeating issues with the spacebar.

  9. Anne says:

    I haven’t noticed extra spaces or repeats on the iPad.

    I’ve noticed the question mark before the initial capital letter of a sentence. That was supposedly fixed. It’s not that often, but it’s reappearance is not encouraging.

    Much worse is a severe degrading of auto-spelling that has been “learned.” I’ve been entering a lot of captions on photos for Pinterest that come from Instagram. It can’t do the word “Instagram” at all, for example. I get offered incomplete versions, then versions with numbers after them.

    It worked fine for a while then started this problem.

    Possibly related: at times the auto spell seems to be picking other text and putting it in front of the text I’m typying (in the left hand pane that is supposedly exactly what you are typing.)

    I’ve never seen it so bad.

  10. Simon says:

    same MBA 2018 issue with spacebar: 3 months after purchase and it’s just gone into the Apple repair shop – but they were not admitting the scale of the problem; another general issue is that these keyboards are clacky and not great in libraries if you want to do serious typing…Come on Apple, your machines are priced to be perfect!

  11. Howie Isaacks says:

    None of these steps worked for me. I ended up having my 2018 MacBook Pro completely replaced. That’s what fixed it.

    • Paul says:

      That’s good to know but disappointing to hear that it required a full machine replacement to resolve the key press problems. How long were you using the MacBook Pro before the keyboard issues started? And how long have you had the replacement (without problems)?

      For me, I bought the 2018 MacBook Air on release day in October 2018 and the keyboard double-pressing issues started this week, so it took a few months of regular use for the problem to surface. I’m hoping this software solution is sufficient so that it doesn’t require service.

  12. So far, it seems to have worked! I will report back, but man, that keyboard was stressing me out.

  13. Liam says:

    …yeah, I was having these sort of problems from day one with my then brand new 2016 Touchbar MBP. The only fix that works, is to have Apple replace the keyboard under the extended warranty program, period!

  14. RM says:

    Great tip, and apologizes to owner’s of keyboards that still have issues.

    But the Key Repeat setting can be used as a fun practical joke.

    When your friend, spouse, or enemy isn’t looking, set the Key Repeat rate to Fast, then run and watch the fun!

  15. iHelena says:

    I have this problem on my iPad, and it’s driving me up the walls. It started a few months ago. The only way to stop it is to choose the word suggested over the keypad but that is only the word I want about half of the time

    • Paul says:

      iHelena, have the double-typing issues occurred with only the onscreen virtual iPad keyboard, or with an external keyboard too?

      You might try making some similar adjustments in your iPad Keyboard settings, found in the Settings app > General > Keyboards

  16. ionut says:

    I’ve had several keys repeating multiple times over the 2 years of owning my 2016 MBP, and my guess is that dust or other debris make their way under the key membrane. Note that the affected keys don’t feel sticky or something, they just register the key press multiple times.

    What you cand do, besides blowing the keyboard with canned air (which i found out it doesn’t really help), is holding the laptop in different positions and pressing the key multiple times (you know, make it sound like a machine gun) so that whatever is under the membrane will get away. Just tilt it, hold it upside down, whatever. You should also try this with your laptop turned off, so the dust may not glue to your keyboard due to the electrical charge – this is just a guess btw, not sure if it really works that way.

    After doing this you should already encounter this issue very rarely and it should be completely gone in a few days. Don’t try to pop the keys out yourself, as you might damage something and you might not be covered by the program. If you have this problem Apple might replace your keyboard, but if i’m right and it is dust, well the problem will return. Hope this helps somebody.

  17. Annie Poes says:

    I’ve never had the problem on any of my Macs, but it’s been an unending source of frustration with my iPad. So I employed the same advice (Settings/Accessibility/Keyboard/Key Repeat OFF) and for the first time in 2 years I can tap out text without having to go over it and take out all the repeats. Fantastic, thank you! It just gauls me that I didn’t think of it myself…..

  18. Pete says:

    I have a 2016 iMac Retina … that exhibits undesirable key repeats. I assumed it might just be wear and tear on the keyboard, though the keyboard seemed particularly prone to the problem from the start. I’ve turned off key repeat (I rarely used it anyway) and I’ll see if there’s any improvement.

  19. Longtime Mac Fan says:

    It disappoints me to no end that some of these keyboards are doing this. I am not convinced it is software, I think it is hardware. I don’t know how widespread this is but it seems common enough to be concerning. I will say this though, I have never had a Mac keyboard ever jam or mistype until this new keyboard design, and I’ve been using many different Apple keyboards since the 1980s.

    The iFixit teardown showed they tried to help the key issue by putting a plastic slip under the keys in the 2018 models, but there are many complaints that the 2018 MacBook keyboards have the same reliability problems anyway. I found this link to be a good overview of complaints from many well known Apple fans and prominent members of the Mac community.

    https://mjtsai.com/blog/2018/10/16/the-2018-macbook-keyboards-have-the-same-old-problems/

    • Arpit says:

      It is hard to know how widespread the key repeating problem is, but there are many threads on Apple Discussion boards about this topic with a lot of attention. For example here is a thread called “MacBook Pro 15” (2018) Keyboard “t” key repeating issue?” where over 55,000 other people have clicked the “I have this question too” button, which could be indicating at least 55,000 keyboard problems for the 2018 keyboard on that particular model.

      https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8536157

      I fear that Apple is causing brand damage by allowing the keyboard problems to continue. Sorry to say it but we all know it that Steve Jobs would not have allowed this keyboard saga to continue. Where Apple is most lost post-Steve is in this kind of thing, addressing obvious issues that when left unfixed cause brand damage. Not a good idea! Steve was the ultimate user, the ultimate test case, now it appears nobody has that job at Apple. It also makes you wonder what keyboards people at Apple use? How does any of this pass a Q&A filter?

    • Nomto says:

      The butterfly keyboard problem is a well known and widely experienced problem with 2016+ MacBook Pro and 2018+ MacBook Air keyboards, my opinion is it should be recalled and the keyboard design should be abandoned

      https://m.signalvnoise.com/the-macbook-keyboard-fiasco-is-surely-worse-than-apple-thinks/

      https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/27/18284042/apple-macbook-keyboard-apology-issues-bad-design

    • AT says:

      I’m having a similar issue…But I’m certain that the issue (for me at least) is software related. I use an external keyboard at my desk and it has been exhibiting the same problem.

      • Karen says:

        I hae been having the problem as well. But, I don’t ever have issues with my external keyboard.

      • Tricky says:

        I also have keyboard repeat problems on my MBP 2018 with an external (Matias Quiet Pro) USB keyboard.

        I don’t have the problem when usiing the same external keyboard with my MBP 2013.

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