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Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 05:00 am PT (08:00 am ET)

MacBook, MacBook Pro owners suffer keyboard freezing with Leopard

Some users of Apple's Intel-based portables are reporting that their keyboards are periodically seizing up during use, especially after upgrading to Mac OS X Leopard.

Numerous posts in Apple's support forums for the MacBook and MacBook Pro, as well as AppleInsider's own forum, attest to the glitch. By most indications, the flaw effectively shuts down the keyboard at unpredictable intervals until either resolved on its own or else by restarting or waking the system. The trackpad and external keyboards continue to function normally, according to the claims.

More drastic steps such as resetting the PRAM on the system fail to return the keyboard to life, system owners say. The flaw also appears to plague Intel-based portables regardless of their age, as reports demonstrate the lockups occurring with original MacBooks from mid-2006, MacBook Pros, as well as the new MacBooks introduced early this month .

Third-party software is also being dismissed as the culprit by owners of the Mac notebooks, as systems with different combinations of third-party software and even untouched installations reportedly suffer from the problem.

In nearly all cases, the root cause appears to be Mac OS X Leopard, whether preloaded with a new system or installed afterwards on an existing computer. The freezes may not begin immediately, but sometimes pick up in frequency over time and are not affected by the 10.5.1 software patch or similar updates.

"This problem has only occurred with Leopard," one user at Apple's forum says. "Everything has been fine for the last 6 months on Tiger."

No readily identifiable fixes or specific errors have been found, although some report success by forcing Finder to quit and relaunch. One user also notes that his internal keyboard disappears from the USB device list of Apple's System Profiler utility when unresponsive.

Apple is not known to have characterized the random freezing as a widespread issue and is so far attributing the flaw to hardware, offering to replace keyboards for at least some users who contact technical support. And to date, those customers aware of the apparent connection have been unable to persuade the Mac maker's representatives that a common link exists.

"I took my MacBook into the Apple Store today," notes one MacBook owner. "I told [Apple's Geniuses] about this thread and they basically dismissed the idea that it could have something to do with Leopard. [...] I think it's strange that they don't even want to listen to any ideas."