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Common keyboard problems and how to fix them

Tyler Lacoma

Few things are more frustrating than when your keyboard stops working. From keys not responding correctly to power issues and backlighting problems, a lot can go wrong with keyboards these days, even if you’ve picked a reliable model . Let’s take a look at common problems users experience and what solutions can get you back to typing ASAP.

The keyboard becomes unresponsive

  • The keyboard turns on but won’t function at all

Specific keys stop working

Keys keep jamming while typing, each key press causes repeats, the keyboard has the wrong character output, key presses respond too slowly.

  • Keyboard shortcuts aren’t working

Keyboard backlighting or RGB lighting is not working

If the keyboard was working fine before but suddenly stops working altogether, this indicates a power or software issue. Start with the basics: If you have a wired keyboard, check that your connection to the computer is stable and in place. Unplug it and plug it back in again if necessary. For wireless keyboards, check that they still have battery life/new batteries and plug them into a source of power to see if that addresses the issue.

On the software side, if you have a wireless keyboard, try disabling the Bluetooth connection and re-enabling it to see if this helps. If not, look to see if you need any updates, and install them. You should also go to the Device Manager and the Keyboards sections to check if any drivers need to be individually updated with a new version.

Even if there are no updates waiting, unplug all other accessories from your computer except those you need, and reboot. A full restart without any other connections can fix unresponsive keyboards.

If all else fails, run a virus check: Some malware can interfere with accessories like keyboards and prevent them from working.

The keyboard turns on but won’t function at all

If everything checks out, it’s time to head to your keyboard drivers. Search for Device Manager and open its window. Find and expand the Keyboards section to see your current drivers. Right-click to uninstall the drivers, then reboot your computer. When you log back in, Windows should automatically find and download the right drivers for your keyboard.

You can also try visiting Dells keyboard diagnostics page , which may give you a bit more insight into exactly what’s going wrong.

Start by looking for any basic reasons why a key may not be working. For example, if you have a numeric keypad, then you probably have a Number Lock key that can turn it off. If that Lock key was accidentally pressed, it would explain why certain number keys aren’t working.

Otherwise, this problem indicates a hardware problem with that specific key. If you have a mechanical keyboard or another version that allows you to take off that specific key, do so and inspect what you find underneath. Sometimes a crumb or bit of debris is keeping the key from properly pressing down on the switch, and blowing it away will fix your problem.

You may notice that part of the key or switch is damaged permanently, a more serious problem that will require retiring the keyboard, at least for a while. Mechanical keyboard brands sometimes allow you to buy and replace individual keys and switches to address problems like these. Otherwise, it’s probably time to start looking for a new keyboard model.

Jamming keys are a primary sign that your keyboard is dirty and needs to be cleaned. There are many levels of cleaning: Some users like to spray in jets of compressed air and hope for the best. We’re not big fans of that option, because it can drive crumbs even deeper into the keyboard than before, and we prefer to use a vacuum brush accessory to suck debris out entirely. But for serious jamming issues, the best solution is to take off the keys and do a thorough cleaning (this may not be an option on scissor or butterfly keyboards, but a good wipe-down will still help). Our guide on ways to clean a keyboard has more useful information.

If every keypress is typing several characters when it should be typing only one, typing quickly becomes an annoying problem. If the key itself feels stuck, then it’s usually an issue of grime or dirt. Unplug the keyboard, and carefully pop the key off. Use a cloth with a small amount of rubbing alcohol or other solvent to wipe the key and the surrounding area.

We also advise heading to keyboard settings and trying to adjust keyboard sensitivity and related features to see if you can match your typing style and sensitivity more accurately.

This usually means that the software layout on your computer doesn’t match the keyboard you are using. Fortunately, you can quickly change the layout to one that matches your keyboard. Search for the Windows Region & Language section. In this new window, select your language, and select Options to see how that language is supported. In the Keyboard  section, make sure that only your particular keyboard layout is supported.

(Oh, and make sure no one switched your keys around as a prank.)

This could also be an issue with a dirty key or a bit of debris that has partially jammed the key switch. If possible, take the key off and clean around it with water and a Q-tip or a similar option, and squirt a little compressed air in afterward.

If that doesn’t fix the problem, head to your keyboard settings. Keyboard settings, including third-party keyboard software, include options to “filter” keys or adjust keyboard repeat rates to slower levels. Disable any filter options, and experiment with similar settings to see if this helps get the response function where you want it.

Keyboard shortcuts aren’t working

Check out our article on useful shortcuts to make sure you’re using the right shortcut. You should also check keyboard settings: Windows has an option for “sticky” keys that require pressing one key at a time to activate the shortcut. If this was accidentally enabled, it could be causing your problem.

While annoying, lighting problems tend to have simple fixes. First, check the settings in your keyboard’s software to make sure lighting has been turned off or adjusted. If everything looks fine, then lighting problems can often be solved by rebooting your computer, unplugging the keyboard, and plugging it back in after your PC restarts.

If this doesn’t work, look up your specific keyboard model online and re-downloaded drivers or update its firmware as needed.

If you recently spilled something on your keyboard, this may cause part or all of your backlighting to malfunction and stop turning on. You can try looking for a compatible “backlight sheet” to replace your old version, but this is not a guaranteed fix, and choosing a new keyboard may be your best option at this point.

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How to Fix It When a Keyboard Won't Type

It could be as simple as a disconnected or dirty keyboard but might be a computer issue involving a software or driver problem

how to solve computer keyboard problem

  • Shoreline Community College

In This Article

Jump to a Section

  • Solutions to Try
  • Frequently Asked Questions

This article explains how to fix an unresponsive keyboard. This solution guide covers built-in keyboards as well as wired and wireless keyboards.

Why Won’t My Keyboard Type?

Some of the reasons a keyboard might be unresponsive include:

  • The computer is frozen : If the computer or an app is frozen or locked up, you won’t be able to type.
  • The keyboard is disconnected : The keyboard may have been unplugged, ran out of batteries, or the wireless connection may have been disrupted.
  • The intended text field isn’t selected : If the text field you’re trying to type in has been deselected, your keyboard will either not type or it will be typing somewhere off-screen (so it appears like it's not working).
  • Software or driver problems : Your keyboard driver or some other software issue may be preventing the keyboard from working.

First things first: Check to see if your keyboard has an on/off switch and be sure it's switched to the On position. If it's on and is battery-powered, be sure it has working batteries or is at least somewhat charged.

8 Ways to Fix The Problem

If your keyboard isn't working, try these fixes:

Restart your computer . If your computer is responsive, use the mouse to restart it. After it reboots, check to see if the keyboard has started to work.

If computer isn’t responsive, then you’ll have to try to fix your frozen computer before you can proceed. Once the computer is responsive again, you can proceed with the restart.

Check your keyboard connection. If you’re using a USB keyboard, try unplugging it and plugging it back in. If that doesn’t work, try plugging it into a different USB port or into a different computer to see if that works.

You can also check to see if a different USB cable works if your keyboard uses a detachable USB cable.

Make sure you have the correct text field selected. Click directly in the text field where you want to type, then try typing again.

If you have accidentally clicked outside the text field where you want to type, your computer won't be accepting any key presses or it will send the type to the wrong place. Even if the app you want to type in is on the screen, it may not be the focus app.

Disable sticky and filter keys . If your keyboard seems to work but is behaving unexpectedly and doesn't type the keys you are pressing, you may be able to fix it by disabling sticky, filter, and toggle keys.

Navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Keyboard , and disable sticky keys , filter keys , and toggle keys .

Try selecting a different text field. Open a new app, and try to type in that app.

For example, if you were trying to type in a word processor, try opening your web browser, click in the URL bar, and see if you can type there. If you can, then close and restart the first app to see if that fixes the problem.

Check the wireless connection, if your keyboard is wireless. If the keyboard connects using a wireless USB dongle, try removing the dongle and plugging it back in.

If it connects via Bluetooth, try turning the Bluetooth on your computer on and off, and check to make sure that your keyboard connects. You may need to pair your keyboard again if it doesn’t connect.

Clean the keyboard . If your keyboard is dirty, that can keep it from working correctly. Dirty keyboards will typically have some stuck keys while having others that work, so this is more likely to be your problem if some of the keys work.

If you find sticky residue under the keys, it may have failed due to spilled liquid. Cleaning may help, and you can sometimes even save a laptop keyboard after a spill , but it’s also possible it may have suffered permanent damage.

Update your drivers . If your keyboard still won’t type, then you can try updating your drivers. There may be a new driver for the keyboard that will allow it to start working again.

If your keyboard stopped working after an update, you may need to roll back your driver instead.

It's unlikely that your laptop's keyboard is suffering from a connection problem since it's built into the system, but it is possible that the keyboard lock may have accidentally been turned on. The steps to unlock a locked laptop keyboard can differ depending on the make and model, but look for a function key with a keyboard icon and press it to see if that solves the problem. If not, look up the process for unlocking your specific laptop model's keyboard and try that.

Restart your Chromebook and try typing again. The issue could also be caused by an error with your using account, so sign out and sign back in with Guest Mode to test the keyboard again. If the keyboard works in Guest Mode, delete the problem account and reconnect it.

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Keyboard Not Working? How to Fix Windows 10 Keyboard Not Typing Problem

Have you ever sat down to write some code or browse the internet, only to discover that your keyboard isn't working?

When your keyboard fails to work, it could be due to:

  • Physical damage
  • Filter keys
  • Outdated or corrupt driver
  • Low battery (if you're using an external keyboard).

You can check the USB port your keyboard is inserted into and make sure it is properly connected to make it work again. You can also clean your keyboard. But those quick fixes still might not resolve the issue.

If you keep hitting your keyboard keys and nothing is showing up on your screen, you've come to the right place. Because in this guide, I'm going to show you 3 ways you can fix it.

Note that if you're having problems with your external or built-in keyboard, you'll need to turn on the onscreen keyboard to fix it with the solutions provided in this guide.

How to turn on the onscreen keyboard


How to Fix Your Keyboard Not Working by Turning off Filter Keys

Filter keys help people who cannot press 2 buttons together at a time run functionalities that can only be accessed that way. But sometimes, this can cause your keyboard to stop working.

To turn off filter keys, follow the steps below:


Step 4 : Uncheck the "Turn on Filter Keys" checkbox.


How to Fix Your Keyboard Not Typing by Disabling Fast Startup

Fast Startup is an option that lets Windows 10 computers boot quickly.

If you're using an external keyboard, the Fast Startup feature could be the reason why it's not working.


How to Fix Your Keyboard Not Working by Updating the Keyboard Driver

An outdated or corrupt driver could be the reason your keyboard isn't working.


I hope the solutions discussed in this article help you fix your keyboard.

Thank you for reading.

Web developer and technical writer focusing on frontend technologies. I also dabble in a lot of other technologies.

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  1. Common keyboard problems and how to fix them

    Even if there are no updates waiting, unplug all other accessories from your computer except those you need, and reboot. A full restart without any other connections can fix unresponsive keyboards.

  2. How to Fix It When a Keyboard Won't Type

    First, try checking your hardware Unplug USB cables and wait for a little while for the device driver to be unloaded by Windows, and then plug the device... Try using a different USB port on your PC. If you use a USB hub between the device and the PC, make sure the hub has power. If it’s still not ...

  3. Keyboard Not Working? How to Fix Windows 10 Keyboard Not

    Step 1: Click Start and search for "control panel", then hit ENTER to open up the first search result - which is always Control Panel. Step 2: Make sure you're viewing by Category and not small icons or large icons, then choose “Ease of Access”. Step 3: Click the "Change how your keyboard works" link.