- If your laptop keyboard is not working properly, there are a few things you can check to resolve the issues.
- Check if restarting your laptop fixes the problem and clean the keyboard thoroughly.
- You can also check if your keyboard driver and layout settings need to be changed.
- Visit Insider’s Technical Reference Library for more stories.
Many computer problems are difficult to diagnose because there are many potential causes. In fact, it is often not obvious that a problem is caused by hardware or software. This is the case with a problematic laptop keyboard – an assortment of hardware and software issues can cause a keyboard to function erratically or not at all.
What to do if your laptop keyboard isn’t working
If your keyboard doesn’t work, you’re out of luck. Whether you have a Windows laptop or an Apple MacBook, before you take the laptop to a repair shop or contact customer service, be sure to go through this troubleshooting tips checklist to see if you can. solve the problem by yourself. Often you can.
Restart the laptop
As a rule of thumb, the first thing you should try when you have a computer problem severe enough to prevent you from working is to restart the computer – turn it off and then on again. This flushes the computer’s memory and restarts all of your programs, drivers, and utilities, and it may be enough to restore your laptop to full functioning.
So before going any further, restart your Windows computer or restart your Mac. It doesn’t even require the use of the keyboard.
Clean the keyboard
Sometimes what at first appears to be a serious clerical error is actually a fairly trivial problem. If only some of your keys are not working properly, for example, there might be dirt and debris under the keys, preventing them from working properly.
To check if this is just dirt under the keys, start with a small brush or microfiber cloth and wipe down the keys, trying to remove any debris that may have gotten stuck under or between the keys. You should also dab a cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently but thoroughly wipe off any dried liquid or stuck-on dirt. For a thorough cleaning, blow a canister of compressed air into the spaces between the keys. See our guide to cleaning keyboards for more information.
See if it’s a hardware problem
Now that you’ve tried the simplest solutions, if the problem persists, you might want to determine if the problem is rooted in the keyboard hardware or if it is a software problem in Windows. The easiest way to figure this out is to see if the keyboard works in a pre-boot environment. If the keyboard works fine before Windows starts, you can focus on software solutions. If not, you should go straight to laptop maintenance.
1. Click on Start then Settings.
2. In the Settings search box, type “Recovery,” and then choose Recovery options in the search results.
3. In the Advanced start heading, choose Restart now.
4. After restarting the computer, on the Choose an options screen, select Repair.
5. On the Repair screen, choose Advanced options.
6. Finally, on the Advanced options screen, choose Command Prompt.
7. When the command prompt opens, test your keyboard.
There is no equivalent preboot environment for the Mac, so you should continue to troubleshoot.
Check your keyboard drivers and settings
If it looks like your keyboard issues are being caused by some kind of software glitch, the next easiest troubleshooting step is to update your keyboard driver.
If you have a Windows laptop:
1. In the Start Search box, type “Device Manager” and click it when you see it appear in the search results.
2. Click the arrow to the left of Keyboard to expand the section.
3. Right click on your keyboard in the list of devices and choose Uninstall the device.
4. Restart your laptop and Windows will automatically identify the laptop keyboard and install the latest driver for it.
On a MacBook, do the following:
1. Click on the Apple logo at the top left of the screen and choose System Preferences.
2. Click on Accessibility.
3. In the navigation pane on the left, scroll down and click Keyboard.
4. Yes Activate slow keys is selected, uncheck this option.
Make sure you have the right keyboard layout
If your keyboard somehow works but seems to muddle what you’re trying to type with unusual characters or the wrong characters, the keyboard layout may have been changed by accident. Check the layout and correct it if necessary:
If you have a Windows laptop:
1. Click on Start then click on Settings.
2. In the Settings window, click Time and language.
3. In the left pane, choose Tongue.
4. In the Preferred languages section, make sure the correct language is selected, such as United States English). Otherwise, click Add a language and add it.
5. Click on the preferred language, then click Options.
6. Make sure the keyboard matches your keyboard type, such as United States – QWERTY.
If you have a Mac:
1. In the menu bar at the top of the screen, click System Preferences.
2. Click on Keyboard.
3. In the tabs at the top, choose Input sources.
4. Make sure the correct keyboard type is displayed in the left pane (such as we). Otherwise, check the box for Display the input menu in the menu bar, then click the plus sign and choose a language.
Connect an external keyboard
If your keyboard still isn’t working properly, plug an external USB keyboard into your laptop. In most cases, this keyboard will work fine whether your built-in keyboard suffers from software or hardware issues. You can use this keyboard while you continue to troubleshoot the laptop or wait for it to be repaired.