At the beginning of August we reported that some owners of the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro with M1 processor are reporting that cracks are inexplicably appearing on the screens. Now Apple has published a new support document in which it warns MacBook owners about keyboard, palm rest and webcam covers - apparently these can damage displays.

As we explained in the earlier report, the M1 MacBook Air and M1 MacBook Pro may have a vulnerability: According to reports in Apple's support forum and Reddit some users have experienced broken displays. Reports describe how a crack can appear suddenly in the outer glass layer of the display. Sometimes it is just a small crack, but sometimes it grows larger and causes the screen to display image defects. One Macwelt (Macworld Germany) reader reported such a case. Since the display repair is costly this is expensive damage.

Apple admits errors, but only indirectly

Display damage of this type is not new and is usually caused by a foreign object between the display and the keyboard - a so-called "contact point crack". According to reports, Apple usually evaluates this damage as the fault of the user and does not want to adopt the repair costs. However, many of the affected people assert that they have not had any foreign objects between the display and the keyboard. According to several reports, the error even occurs on devices that are only on the desk and are not even used as mobile devices.

Apple has now indirectly confirmed in a support document that the new MacBooks have a vulnerability in this sense: Apple has warned against covering the trackpad or keyboard of the MacBooks with any protective foils or sleeves. This also includes keycaps, for example with markings. Apparently, even these few millimetres of additional thickness are enough to apply pressure to the display. In the document Apple warns users that: "If you use a camera cover, palm rest cover, or keyboard cover with your Mac notebook, remove the cover before closing your display to prevent damage to your display."

The company elaborates further saying: "To enable the thin design of Mac notebook computers, the clearance between the display (screen) and the top case is engineered to tight tolerances. If you use a camera cover, palm rest cover, or keyboard cover with your Mac notebook, remove the cover before closing your display. Leaving any material on your display, keyboard, or palm rest might interfere with the display when it's closed and cause damage to your display."

Webcam covers sound may explain why so many displays are splintered at the height of the MacBook camera, but many of the affected parties claim that they have used no such covers. The susceptibility to screen damage seems unusually high and Apple should probably be a little more accommodating.

It is possible there is a fault with the design. One possibility is that the keyboard is too thick - the current MacBook keyboards have been used since 2019 when they replaced the flatter "Butterfly" keyboards that had many weaknesses. It is also feasible that the camera itself could be the "contact point".