Mac Keyboard Not Working? Here’s How To Fix It

By | March 22, 2022

Apple makes great keyboards they work well, look really good, and are designed to work flawlessly with your Mac. But every now and then, something goes wrong.

Maybe you plugged in the keyboard and nothing happened. Maybe your computer can’t pick up the Bluetooth signal from the keyboard. Or maybe pressing the button no response at all. Here’s what to do when your Apple keyboard isn’t working.

Your Wireless Keyboard Is Not Working

We’ll start with wireless keyboards, as there are a few more problems that can befall compared to their wired keyboards. No matter what’s going on with your keyboard, try these steps first:

Make sure Bluetooth is Enabled and Working

Don’t ignore the most obvious solution when trying to fix a problem. First, open System Preferences> Bluetooth and make sure you have Bluetooth enabled.

Panel System Preferences will let you know if the device is connected, if the battery is low, or if there are other errors.

If your preference pane or menu bar shows a Bluetooth icon with a jagged line above it (see image below), it means Bluetooth is offline. Restart your Mac and see if that helps. If not, unplug all USB devices and restart them.

Make Sure Your Keyboard Is On

If your Wireless or Magic Keyboard is not connected, you must first check if it is actually turned on:

  • On the latest Magic Keyboard, slide the switch on the back edge of the device so that the green color becomes visible.
  • For older Apple Wireless Keyboards, press the key Power on the right edge and you will see a green LED light at the top.

Once your device boots up, head back to the Bluetooth preferences panel and see if it’s connected. If your keyboard searches for your computer but doesn’t connect, right-click your keyboard in the list of devices and select Connect (if your device is not listed, go to step five below).

Check Your Keyboard Battery Level

If the battery on your keyboard is running low, you may have some performance issues. open System Preferences> Bluetooth and you can see a small battery indicator under the registered and connected keyboard.

You can also view the battery levels of all connected devices by clicking the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar and hovering over the device you are interested in. If the battery is low, you will need to replace it.

Make sure Mouse Keys and Slow Keys are turned off

Some accessibility features of macOS can interfere with normal keyboard operation. To check it, go to System Preferences> Accessibility and select Mouse & Trackpad from the menu on the left.

Here, make sure Enable Mouse Keys unchecked. This option allows you to control the mouse using keyboard keys, resulting in a number of keys that may not work.

Next, click Keyboard in the left sidebar and make sure Enable Slow Keys in unchecked. This requires you to hold down the button longer to register as a press.

Repair Your Keyboard With Your Computer

In the preferences panel Bluetooth, make sure Bluetooth is turned on. Hover your mouse over your keyboard in the list of devices, and click X on the right side of the entry.

A warning will appear, informing you that you need to re-pair your device the next time you use it. Click Remove.

Now turn it off keyboard you and turn it back on. The indicator light should start to flash. Go to Keyboard options in System Preferences and click on Bluetooth keyboard setup. Follow the instructions to pair your keyboard.

If Your Mac’s USB Keyboard Isn’t Working

If your Mac Mini or iMac keyboard isn’t working, and it’s connected via USB, take the following steps to diagnose and resolve the problem.

Try a Different USB Port

Unplug your keyboard from the current USB port and try something else. If it works, you can try again on the original port.

If it only works on one USB port, you may need to repair your computer’s USB port.

Check System Report

From the Apple menu (found at the top left of the screen), click About This Mac. Then click the button System Report. After the system report window opens, click USB in the Hardware in the left sidebar.

From here, you can see what your computer detects from your USB port.

If your computer has detected a keyboard, you’ll see Apple Keyboard listed under one of the USB ports. If it’s not listed, try restarting your computer and resetting SMC and PRAM (Read How to Reset Your Mac’s SMC and PRAM/NVRAM).

Turn off Bluetooth

open System Preferences> Bluetooth and make sure Bluetooth is off. If this solves the problem, it is possible that your computer recognizes the Bluetooth keyboard and prioritizes it on your USB keyboard.

If you need to enable Bluetooth, you can remove the keyboard from the list by clicking X to the right of entries in System Preferences > Bluetooth you to delete it.

Make sure Mouse Keys and Slow Keys are turned off

The same accessibility features we mentioned earlier can also affect wired keyboards. open System Preferences > Accessibility and select Mouse & Trackpad from the menu on the left. Make sure Enable Mouse Keys unchecked.

Click Keyboard in the left sidebar and make sure Enable Slow Keys also unchecked.

Connect Your Keyboard Via Extension Cable or USB Hub

The Apple USB keyboard comes with a USB extension cable that increases the range of the included USB cable. Try plugging your keyboard into one end of this cable and the other into your computer. If you don’t have a USB extension cable, you can also use a USB hub.

Nobody seems to know why it’s so effective, but it often does!

Keyboard Still Not Working

As with any problem-solving attempt, it’s good to know when to admit defeat. If you’ve tried the solutions above and none of them are working, it might be time to consult the staff at your local Apple store (especially if the device is still under warranty).

You can also try searching for your specific problem online to find someone else who has solved the problem.

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