If you’re having difficulty with the keyboard on your computer or laptop, there are several elements that you should check before rushing to purchase a replacement. Whether your keyboard isn’t responding at all or if only certain letters or numbers aren't working, this FAQ will provide a general overview of how to troubleshoot your keyboard for errors.
If your keyboard isn’t typing certain keys or responding at all, there are several checks to make depending on the type of keyboard you’re using (wired or wireless), which keys aren’t working, and when the failure occurs.
N.B. The problem that you’re facing could be hardware-related or software-related. Both of these types of issues will cause different problems.
You can begin by checking that there are no physical obstructions - small debris, or objects underneath keys. If there is, you can use a compressed air blower for keyboards to remove them. If the problem persists, read on.
The first thing to check is the cable and other issues with your hardware. Confirm that the wire is correctly placed into the correct port and that the connection to the keyboard is not damaged. Typically, keyboards will use a USB connection or 6-pin mini-DIN, if you have an older desktop PC. Second, check that the wire is in good condition and has no holes or splintering wires. A damaged wire can prevent the keyboard from transmitting all strokes to your computer or laptop.
If you’re using a PC and the keyboard still isn’t working, try to troubleshoot the device from the Control Panel. It’s possible you may need to update or reinstall the driver for your keyboard. If after the troubleshooting you have not resolved the issue, check the driver by going to Device Manager and then to Keyboard. Typically, there will be a yellow exclamation point to signal an issue. To resolve this, right-click on your Keyboard and select Update Driver Software, and follow the instructions that appear.
Wireless keyboards can function via a USB wireless chip or bluetooth. The first step is to ensure the keyboard is charged or has functioning batteries. If not, replace them or charge the keyboard before continuing. If you’re using a USB wireless chip, confirm it’s secured into the correct and a functioning port. Restart your computer to check if it works. If your keyboard is still not responding, try reinstalling the correct driver and restarting your computer again.
If you’re using Bluetooth, open the Bluetooth receiver on your computer and try to pair your device. If it fails, restart your computer and power the keyboard on and off before trying to connect again. Also, you can confirm that your computer’s Bluetooth receiver is working correctly by connecting to another Bluetooth device.
If your wireless keyboard still isn’t working on your PC, try reinstalling the driver software as noted above.
If your laptop keyboard isn’t working, first try restarting your computer. If your laptop’s keyboard still isn’t working, remove the Keyboard Delay setting. To do so in Windows 10, go to Settings, System Control, Keyboard Operations, and then deactivate Keyboard Delay. If this still does not resolve the issue, try reinstalling the driver as noted above. If this fails, you will need to consider having the laptop checked by a technician as there could be an issue with the components connecting your keyboard to the motherboard.
If your keyboard wont type in certain programs, such as Excel, close the program and restart your computer. If this does not solve the issue, try reinstalling the keyboard driver.
If you are facing issues on your MacBook or MacBook Pro, a SMC (System Management Controller) reset could solve the issue. If your Mac has a battery that’s not removable, go to the Apple menu and click Shut Down.... Once your laptop shuts down, press and hold the Shift, Control, Option, and Power keys for 10 seconds. After, release the keys, turn your MacBook back on, and check to see if you’re able to type again.
If you have an older MacBook with a removable battery, first shut down your laptop from the Apple menu and then remove the battery. Then, press and hold the Power button for 5 seconds. Next, place the battery back into the laptop and turn it on. Check to see if you are able to type again.
Often if a keyboard is not responding to certain key presses, there is an issue at startup. First, restart your computer, then check if this resolves the problem. Before restarting, clean the device and the wire to ensure that there is no physical damage to the hardware. Additionally, when you restart the device, remove the battery and/or charger and hold the Power button for 60 seconds before reconnecting the power cable or battery and powering on again.
If your keyboard is typing numbers instead of symbols, such as the hash or pound sign, check that you are pressing the Shift key simultaneously. This may differ based on the keyboard that you are using.
If you are still unable to get your keyboard to work and need to type urgently, you can use an On-Screen Keyboard. This is available for Mac and PC users and will provide a temporary relief to your issue.
If you’re using a PC with Windows 10, go to Start, Settings, Ease of Access, and select Keyboard. Then, activate the On-Screen Keyboard.
To activate the On-Screen Keyboard on a Mac, open System Preferences and go to Keyboard. Check the box that reads Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in menu bar. In the mail Apple navigation bar, click the Keyboard icon. In the dropdown that opens, select Show keyboard Viewer.
Image: © Medium + Unsplash