How to Fix a Keyboard Not Working on Mac

Fix Mac Keyboard Featured

If you’ve used any computer for any amount of time, you know that eventually something is going to stop working. This is annoying no matter what, but it’s a much bigger problem if key hardware like your keyboard isn’t working.

While Apple has gained a reputation for its computers “just working,” that isn’t always the case. If the keyboard stops working on either your desktop or MacBook, any number of issues could be at fault. Here are some things to try before you drag your computer to the Genius Bar.

Plug in Another Keyboard

The first step, whether you’re using a desktop or a laptop, is to plug in another keyboard. This won’t solve your problem, but it can help you diagnose what is going wrong.

If you plug in another keyboard and it doesn’t work either, you may have an issue with your USB port. You may also have a software issue. On a laptop, plugging in another keyboard will at least let you try the following steps.

Update macOS

Especially if you’re using a laptop, updating your software can help solve keyboard-related issues. Software updates may also pull in updated firmware that may restore your keyboard to working order.

Fix Mac Keyboard Update

Open the System Preferences app, then navigate to the Software Update section in the third row. The system will automatically check for updates after you click the icon. This may not solve your problem, but it’s simple enough that it doesn’t hurt to try.

Reset Your SMC

Your Mac’s System Management Controller handles many of the low-level functions of your computer. Resetting this can solve any number of problems. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to do.

To start, shut down your Mac. For a desktop model, unplug the power cord and wait for fifteen seconds. For a laptop with a removable battery, remove the battery and power adapter, then wait for the same amount of time. Press and hold the power icon for five seconds, then replace the battery or power cord and power on your computer.

For newer MacBooks without removable batteries, press and hold Ctrl + Option + Shift, then press and hold the power button for ten seconds. After the 10 seconds have passed, release the keys and power button, then press the power button to power on the computer.

Delete Recent Apps

Though you may not suspect it, apps could be causing your keyboard issues. This is especially worth considering if you recently installed an app and then began having keyboard issues.

Fix Mac Keyboard Remove Apps

If you’re not sure what’s been installed recently, open Finder, then select Applications from the menu on the left. Using the sort options at the top, sort by “Date Added.” This will let you see what you installed most recently.

Clean Your Keyboard

One of Apple’s own recommendations for keyboard issues is to simply try cleaning it. If you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro from the past few years, this is worth trying. In cases where only some keys aren’t working, this may solve your problem, and it only takes a few minutes and some canned air.

Hold the MacBook at a 75-degree angle and, in a left to right motion, spray air across the keys. Then turn it on its other side and repeat the same steps.


While the above fixes will work for many common issues, they won’t solve every single problem. If you’ve tried all of them and your keyboard still doesn’t work, you may have to contact Apple support. They might offer other options to try or, in a worst-case scenario, you might need to have your computer serviced.

The keyboard isn’t the only thing that can go wrong on a Mac. If you’re having trouble with your trackpad, take a look at our guide to fixing your MacBook trackpad.

Kris Wouk
Kris Wouk

Kris Wouk is a writer, musician, and whatever it's called when someone makes videos for the web.

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