Back in April 2018, I ordered some replacement keycaps for my keyboard, because I could not abide having a "Windows" key on it.

Here's what those new keycaps look like now. The edge is worn down and the flower is missing its stamen. That only took 2.5 years!
I guess it's not (yet) as bad as what the corresponding key looked like back in 2009... I do not recall how many years that took.

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27 Responses:

  1. Michael says:

    I seem to do the same thing to Apple Keyboards. They last around two years.

    On my last Macbook I actually managed to break the g and right shift key. Apparently I hit keys really hard.

  2. vim user says:

    You really haven't finally got your emacs the way you like it.

  3. freiheit says:

    Apparently you really need PBT doubleshot keycaps instead of ABS printed keycaps.

    • jwz says:

      I don't know what any of these words mean, but if it means "like what I bought last time, but less sucky", where do I buy that?

      • freiheit says:

        Your keycap there is clear ABS plastic with a very thin layer of black printed on everything but the legend.

        Can't tell if that Alt key is backlit or not. If it's backlit, then it's doubleshot. Otherwise it's black plastic with white printing.

        ABS is the most common plastic for keycaps. PBT is the more "premium" plastic. Anything else is even rarer (but better than ABS). PBT has a different texture and sound than ABS. PBT is harder and more brittle, so harder to work with and more expensive. PBT takes longer to wear down (because harder).

        The cheapest keys just print ink on top. For a backlit key, it's clear ABS plastic with printing everywhere but the legend. For non-backlit keys, there's some methods where the ink gets deeper into the plastic, or the legends are etched on ("sublimated"). Doubleshot can be backlit or not, but it's injection molded in 2 rounds, so that (for backlit) the inside of the key is clear plastic and the outside is opaque, with clear plastic going up to the top. This means doubleshot legends are about a millimeter (varies) deep and you have to really wear the key down quite a bit to lose the legend.

        My initial searching didn't find an exact match for PBT doubleshot backlit apple logo...

        The market for replacement keycaps for mechanical keys is primarily filled with gamers, and just a bit of programmers and picky touch-typists. Because of that gaming-heavy aspect of the market, finding keycaps specifically for macs is tricky. It's easy to get blank or something "fun" for that spot on the keyboard instead of a windows logo, but apple stuff is harder.

        PBT doubleshot is relatively common to find when buying keycaps. Backlit-compatible PBT doubleshot is a bit more of a specialty thing.

        So... What are your requirements? How important is backlighting? Does it need to be the proper ⌘ or just not windows symbol? It's actually easier to find various "fun" symbols than the ⌘, and if backlighting isn't a priority that's also easier to find. Is it more important that the legend stay visible (so doubleshot ABS ok), or that the key not wear down (printed or etched PBT)?

        So, for example, if you don't care much about backlight shining through, these are higher quality printing on PBT, and you could switch up your modifiers to opaque radioactive green: ("Green VCC", "sublimated", "60% icon modifier"+"65% icon adder" and maybe also "TKL Text Adder". (TKL="ten-keyless"="no numpad"))...

  4. Darren says:

    Did you ever see Alan Moore's keyboard? :)

  5. margaret says:

    ever had dtwm hang on startup?

  6. Lrunpstfrt says:

    Why are there still labeled keys?

  7. Julian Macassey says:

    The DEC VT100 keyboard could be put through a diswasher when it got grubby.

    I used to work in manufacturing (Obiously a long time ago). Key caps were made with what was called a "double shot), the legend was moulded in so didn't wear away like today's keyboards where the legend is just printed on.

    Disclaimer I have a box of vintage IBM M keyboars.

  8. James C. says:

    Those cheap backlight keycaps are translucent ABS plastic with paint which wears off really fast. What you want are ‘doubleshot’ or ‘two-shot’ keycaps which are made with two separate plastics. Then the label and body wear down together.

    You can get keycaps in ABS or PBT. PBT is much more resistant to wear and chemical attack (skin oils, food acids, etc.). But PBT is also more difficult to work with so it’s more expensive and less common. Actually there are also keycaps made of POM (Delrin) and polycarbonate, but they are quite rare.

    There are a variety of ABS two-shot backlit keycaps out there. There are a few sets of PBT two-shot backlit keycaps, but given the smaller number of them manufactured it’s less likely they’ll have ⌘ and ⌥.

  9. Eric says:

    Wow... I don't think I've had a keyboard that lasted more than 6 months in the past decade or so.

  10. Jon Konrath says:

    I forget exactly which permutation of Kinesis you have (and they’re about to change their lineup again) but I think this might be what you need:

    Note their factory is closed, so any Kinesis stuff is almost impossible to find, but you might luck out if there’s still stock in the channel. (I’ve been trying to replace my Freestyle for weeks with no luck.)

    • jwz says:

      Well, almost, except that from their pictures they seem to have implemented
      Ctrl ⌥⌘ SPC ⌘⌥ when what I want is
      Ctrl ⌥⌘ SPC ⌥ Ctrl. Also they spell it Alt instead of ⌥.

  11. eekee says:

    Hallo! Seeing keyboard posts here reminds me of Deskthority, a mechanical keyboard forum & wiki I used to hang out on. It might or might not be overkill for this issue, but I'm sure you'll like the photos if nothing else, jwz. They periodically do "group buys" where they choose a style and bulk-order custom keycaps, which I mention because one time the style was Space Cadet. :)

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