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Your MacBook’s keyboard is probably even more delicate than you think. Of course, one unlucky spill could knock out your whole computer, but even crumbs could mean death for your keys. It might be tempting to put a keyboard cover on your computer to keep both the keys and the MacBook protected, but as it turns out, these covers can actually do more harm than good.

Keyboard covers can damage your MacBook’s display

For all that time you spend worrying about your MacBook’s keyboard, you might want to take a second to think about its display. MacBook displays are excellent, but they’re also fragile (think about how easily yours gets dirty). Fingerprints and water spots end up littering the display and make cleaning a challenge, but adding a keyboard cover makes the problem worse.

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Apple makes these laptops super thin, as you likely know from picking yours up. As it happens, the company designs these machines with such precision that there is only just a gap between the keyboard and the display when you close your laptop. There’s really no room for anything other than air in that space.

Keyboard covers, while thin, aren’t that thin. They end up touching the display when you close your MacBook, and it stays that way until you open the computer back up. Immediately, you’ll notice that there is a QWERTY imprint on your MacBook’s display, which fits in nicely with whatever other gunk has accumulated here. It’s, for lack of a better word, ugly.

Still, you could handle a little ugly if it meant you were protecting your MacBook’s keyboard. After all, you could just wipe off the keyboard stain and move on with your day, no? Well, actually, sometimes not. It’s possible that the keyboard cover can damage the display in the long run.

Since that gap is so small, having anything come into contact with your display over and over again is asking for trouble. It’s why Apple recommends you remove keyboard covers, palm rests, and camera covers before closing one of their MacBooks.

If you really want to use a cover, the best course of action is to simply remove it before you close your MacBook’s lid. But even then, depending on your device, a cover might be bad news.

Keyboard covers can keep your MacBook running too hot

If you have an M1 MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, you likely don’t feel it get uncomfortably hot too often. But for those of us with older MacBooks, you know these things can get toasty. There are many reasons for that, and there are ways to mitigate it, but one of the easiest ways to reduce the heat is to stop using a keyboard cover.

If your MacBook has a fan, it uses that fan to move air through the machine—pumping hot air away from the components of the MacBook helps keep control over the temperature. One of the areas it takes in cool air, however, is through the keyboard itself. If you have a cover on the keyboard, your MacBook can’t take in as much air as it wants to, which can hinder its ability to pump out an optimal amount of hot air.

Now, this doesn’t apply to every model of MacBook, since Apple doesn’t put fans in all of them. MacBooks (the ones known as just MacBooks), for example, don’t have fans, and neither do the M1 MacBook Airs. You can safely use a keyboard cover with these devices without worrying about overheating your machine; just make sure to remove them before closing the lid (which, as you can imagine, might be easy to forget).

For the rest of us using MacBook devices with fans, keyboard covers really just aren’t worth the hassle. You’re much better off making an effort not to eat around your laptop, or, if you must, keep the lid closed while you do. Will you listen to that advice? Probably not, and neither will I. But at least we all now know what we’re supposed to do.

 

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