4 Tips on How to Fix a Laptop Keyboard that Doesn’t Work

By | December 7, 2021

Tapping the keyboard You expect to see text on the screen, but only see a few characters? Or not at all.

Without a working keyboard, your computer is useless. For laptop computers, this is a big deal because you can’t just swap out the keyboard the way you can with a desktop PC.

Computer maintenance should become a habit. But problems can still bother us. If your laptop keyboard has stopped working, here’s what you need to know, and how to fix it.

4 Reasons Your Laptop Keyboard Stopped Working

Typically, there are four reasons why your laptop keyboard has stopped working. Each reason has its own fix.

  • Bad hardware drivers: These can be reinstalled or updated.
  • Dirt and dust: Cleaning your laptop keyboard can help.
  • Bad connection: In some cases, your laptop may be unlocked and the keyboard reconnected. It is possible that the keyboard is faulty, so a replacement must be sourced.
  • Incorrect regional settings: Some characters do not work because the keyboard settings are set to use the wrong region or language.

As you may have noticed, these two problems are easy to solve, while the other two require more work. To complicate matters further, any remedial action that requires you to open your laptop will differ depending on the manufacturer. It may even differ between models from the same manufacturer.

Update or Rollback Laptop Keyboard Driver

The easiest way to deal with a laptop keyboard not working is to update the drivers.

Do this by clicking on Start and going to device manager. The Device Manager icon will appear in the results, so click on this. Browse the list of devices until you see Keyboard, then expand the list. Right-click the keyboard device (usually PS/2 Standard Keyboard) and select Properties > Driver.

Here, click on Update Driver and wait while Windows finds the new driver and installs it. Test the keyboard with a word processor, or perhaps the Windows Notepad app — with any luck, it should now work.

Still can’t?

This time, select Uninstall Device and wait for the driver to be uninstalled. Once done, you will have to reboot Windows, and wait while the drivers are reinstalled. However, you can also use Action > Scan for hardware changes to have Windows install the driver.

Note that there is also a Rollback Driver option. It will be grayed out at most, unless a new driver has been installed, possibly as part of Windows Update. If this option is available, and your keyboard just stopped working, click Rollback Driver and wait for the new driver.

Laptop Keyboard Not Working? Clean this!

Cleaning a standard keyboard isn’t easy; cleaning a laptop keyboard is even more difficult. Keyboards require a certain amount of physical interaction to loosen the dirt, and while it’s a genera, be sure to clean any dirt that falls off the table when you’re done! If there’s dirt that you can’t get rid of, a can of compressed air can be used at this point, or you might rely on keyboard cleaning putty instead.

Note that cleaning can’t fix any faults inside, but it will help if dirt is preventing one or more of the keys from working properly. Only easily reached by USB or wireless keyboard, things are different on laptops.
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Basically, you can’t easily shake and knock on the back of a laptop without risking damage to the entire unit.

However, you can remove dust and debris from a laptop keyboard by first turning the device off, then turning it upside down and gently tapping the stand. You should then run your finger across all the buttons while the device is upside down, to remove any remaining dirt.

Reinstall the Broken Laptop Keyboard

If the keyboard is physically damaged or disconnected from the motherboard perhaps due to shock, then you need to set aside some time to remove the components from your laptop and reconnect the connections or replace the keyboard altogether.

Different manufacturers build their laptops in different ways, which means it’s hard to pinpoint one fix.

However, opening different laptops from the same manufacturer is generally the same. This makes swapping keyboards (or just redoing a wired connection) a lot easier.

Note that laptop keyboards are usually sealed units, so while the keyboard may be able to be cleaned better when removed from the laptop, you won’t be able to easily check how the internals work.

Once the keyboard is removed, you will be able to check the serial number. Enter this into the search box on eBay to see if it’s available for purchase. They usually are, but buying a replacement laptop keyboard can be expensive.

What If the Keyboard Key Doesn’t Work?

Having trouble with the “@” button? Can’t activate Shift?

If you’re having trouble with certain keyboard keys not working, it could be because of your language settings. Once you have confirmed that the problem is not hardware, this is the first thing to check.

To check, open a text editor and press the button in question. Is there any output? If it’s the wrong symbol, then the problem is almost certainly related to the language setting. Different regions use different keyboard layouts, based on how the characters are used.

You will have to reconfigure your regional settings to match your keyboard. In Windows 10 do this by pressing Windows + I and selecting Time & language > Region & language. Here, click on Add language and select the correct option for your keyboard.

Click Next then Install and wait a while while the language is installed. On the Region & language screen, use the Language drop-down menu to select a new language.

Check your keyboard input again; the correct character should now be displayed on the screen.

Similar keyboard language settings can be found on macOS and Linux.

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