Broken or unresponsive laptop keyboards aren’t fun to deal with – trust me, I know. I recently had the joy of dealing with one, and although stuck or unresponsive keys will try their best to convince you that you need to pay a visit to the local computer repair person, it’s possible to fix most of the keyboard problems you’re plagued with yourself. (Shocking, right?)
Keep reading to find out how you can put a pesky keyboard back in its place and keep the money you’d fork out for a repair bill in your pocket.
Identify the Problem
First things first: you need to identify the problem. If you can identify what the problem is, you can fix your keyboard and save yourself $100 (or more). Let’s go over some basics first:
- Is your keyboard still powered on?
- How many of the keys are not functioning properly?
If some keys are working while others aren’t, you could be dealing with a mechanical problem (which we will address shortly).
- Are none of the keys functioning?
If all of the keys on your keyboard are refusing to respond, press CAPS LOCK to see if that key’s indicator light goes off/comes on. If the lights on your keys aren’t turning on and off when you press them, the first things you need to try doing is restarting your laptop. If rebooting your laptop doesn’t take care of the problem, there are some other tricks you can try.
If one or more of your keys has quit working, check and make sure nothing has gotten stuck underneath them. We’re all guilty of eating at our desk, so it’s no big deal if there are a couple of cookie crumbs in there. You’d also be surprised at how much dust and debris can build up over time if you don’t clean your keyboard regularly.
You can try turning your laptop upside down to shake loose bigger pieces of debris if they’re not lodged in your keyboard too tight, but I would suggest buying a couple of cans of compressed air. (DO NOT SHAKE CANS OF COMPRESSED AIR)
The slender straw on the can is perfect for blowing as much air as possible between the keys to eliminate any debris that may be in your keyboard and hindering the keys from functioning correctly. It doesn’t take much to keep a keyboard from working like it should, so even if you think you don’t see much in there, using a can of compressed air could save you a trip to the repair shop.
If you’re still having problems even after trying the compressed air trick, you have another option left. Many laptop keyboards can be removed, and I’ll be honest, it’s an aggravating task. However, you may reach a point where it’s necessary to remove the keyboard, so we’ll discuss how to do this in just a little bit.
If you already tried cleaning your keyboard, using a can of compressed air, and troubleshooting for mechanical issues without any success, your problems may be software related. The problem could lie with your OS or any of your keyboard’s drivers. An out of date, corrupted, or missing driver can cause the keyboard to cease functioning.
In Windows laptops, you can go to “Control Panel -> Device Manager -> Keyboards” to help you figure out the problem. If you see a red circle or yellow triangle on top of the keyboard icon, it means the driver is corrupt or not working. Right-click the keyboard and then select “Update driver software.”
Windows will look for a new driver, and if it finds one, Windows will begin the installation process. You can also use Windows update to check for new keyboard drivers.
Help! Nothing’s Working
“None of this is working. Now what?” You can try replacing your keyboard. This is a time-consuming task, so clear your schedule (especially if you’ve never done this before). Steps can vary greatly depending on the make and model of your laptop, and there are a lot of teeny tiny screws involved, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with you attempting to replace your keyboard.
For Windows laptops, your best bet for pulling this off is to search for a guide based on the manufacturer’s brand and model number. You’ll most likely find the information you need for the search on a label on the bottom of your laptop.
With the manufacturer’s brand and model number in hand, you have three options for finding precise instructions on how to replace your specific keyboard.
- Check the manufacturer’s website to see if they offer specific instructions for DIY repair.
- Run a search on the Web for “how to replace keyboard” with your laptop’s model number.
- Search iFixit to see if they have the guide you need.
If none of these options offer the solution and information you need to properly replace your keyboard, it’s time to bite the bullet and seek help from that repair store you’ve been avoiding like the plague. Sorry, folks. So drop that sucker off, go enjoy a hot cup of joe for your efforts, and tell your buddies “I could have fixed it myself but I’d hate to see that shop close down.”