A big part of why many of us own laptops is that all the vital hardware bits like a keyboard and mouse are integrated right into it. If those bits stop working, then it kind of defeats the purpose (and financial expense) of owning a laptop in the first place.
There are plenty of reasons why your laptop keyboard would stop working and plenty of fixes for this problem, too. Here we talk through various known laptop keyboard problems and how to fix them.
Note: for some of these tips, you’ll need to use an external keyboard, so have one on standby.
Laptop Keyboard Not Working After Windows Update (Lenovo)
Windows updates don’t always go well. While they’re designed to improve and stabilize your system, they can also have strange side effects like – you guessed it – making your keyboard malfunction.
Lenovo laptop users have been reporting that a recent Windows “critical update” has caused their keyboard to stop working, with the solution strangely being related to the laptop’s backlight. To fix your Lenovo (and possibly other) laptop keyboards not working after a Windows update, try this:
1. Unplug any external keyboard, turn on your PC, and sign into your PC using the onscreen keyboard if you have to. (Here are some tips on using the onscreen keyboard.)
2. To use the onscreen keyboard, click in the bottom-right corner of your lock screen, then click the “Ease of Access icon -> Onscreen keyboard.”
3. Once you’ve done that, switch on your keyboard backlight. You probably can’t do this using your keyboard, so head to your Lenovo keyboard software (this will vary depending on your laptop) and turn the backlight on through that.
4. On Lenovo Legion laptops, for instance, this is called “iCUE”, where you select or create one of the backlight profiles to turn on the backlighting.
5. Do a “hard shutdown” of your laptop. Instead of shutting down through Windows, hold the power button on your laptop until your PC switches off.
6. Switch your laptop back on, and your keyboard should be working again.
Laptop Keyboard Slow to Respond
If your keyboard is working but there’s lag or a delay between you pressing the keys and your inputs appearing on the screen, the good news is that this is almost certainly not a hardware problem.
One reason for a slow reaction to your keyboard presses is that the accessibility feature “Filter Keys” is turned on. This causes the keyboard to ignore brief keystrokes in order to make typing easier for users with hand tremors. An invaluable feature for some but not to most.
To turn off Filter Keys, click the Start menu, then the Settings cog icon -> Ease of Access. Click Keyboard in the pane on the left, then scroll down and make sure “Use Filter Keys” is set to “Off.”
That failing, you can scroll down through this guide to the section on reinstalling laptop keyboard drivers. Slow or unresponsive typing can often be the result of a faulty driver.
Laptop Keyboard Software Not Working
If your laptop does boot to BIOS when you press the relevant button, then the good news is that your laptop keyboard is working. The bad news is that Windows isn’t seeing it that way, and you’ll need to convince it.
Note: you may need to connect an external keyboard to your laptop to go through this process, as you will need to have a way to type in your Windows password.
Check Windows 10 for Keyboard System File Errors
If your laptop keyboard isn’t working because of a software issue, then the first sensible thing to do is run a system file scan, which will scan crucial Windows system files for errors, then fix any corruptions if possible.
To do this, press the Win key, then enter
cmd into the Search box. When Command Prompt appears in the results, right-click it and click “Run as administrator.”
In the command prompt, enter the following and wait for the process to complete:
Reinstall Keyboard Driver
Go to “Device Manager,” then scroll down and click Keyboards. If there’s an exclamation mark by the default laptop keyboard (called “Standard PS/2 Keyboard” in our case), then Windows has detected a problem. Right-click the keyboard, click “Uninstall device,” then reboot your PC.
The keyboard should reinstall instantly – even as you’re just logging into Windows – and should hopefully be back up and running again.
Uninstall Secondary Keyboards
Sometimes the drivers from other keyboards you’ve previously attached can interfere with and automatically disable the laptop keyboard. Give your keyboard setup a fresh start by uninstalling all laptop drivers that aren’t your main keyboard.
In Device Manager again, click View, then “Show hidden devices.” Go down to keyboards, then right-click and uninstall everything called “HID Keyboard Device.” This is actually a bit of a catch-all term, as various other external devices – even mice – can be included here. Remember: to reinstall a device, you just need to plug it in.
Laptop Keyboard Hardware Not Working
The first thing you need to do is hone in on exactly what the problem with the keyboard is. Is it a hardware issue (more serious) or a software one?
To isolate the problem, as your laptop is booting up, repeatedly press the button that takes you to the BIOS screen. This varies between different laptop brands, but it’s usually the Delete, F2, F8 or F12 key. If your laptop boots to Windows, then you’re either pressing the wrong button or indeed your keyboard isn’t working on a hardware level.
If you’re certain you’ve been pressing the correct button and your BIOS isn’t booting, then your laptop keyboard likely has a hardware issue. This could be something as simple as the connector between the keyboard and motherboard having become loose.
If you’re not comfortable with opening your laptop, then consider taking it to a specialist who can take a look. If you want to try checking yourself for the problem, you can use a tool to lift the keyboard and check the connection underneath (at your own risk). Once you can see the tap connecting the keyboard to the motherboard, make sure it’s not loose (or worse, broken) and firmly in the slot.
If the ribbon or connector is damaged, then you’ll need to get your laptop repaired. If it was just loose, then you may have just solved your problem!
You may also encounter problems with your laptop touchpad, which we can also help with. Then when your laptop is back up and running, you can further boost your productivity by tweaking your default keyboard shortcuts in Windows 10.