Simple Fixes for Laptop Keyboard Problems

Few things are more frustrating than having one or more keys stop working on your laptop keyboard while you’re in the middle of typing. Thankfully, there are a few simple fixes that you can try at home that might easily solve the problem.

repairing laptop keyboard

Dirt or Food Crumbs

If you happen to snack or eat lunch while you’re working on your laptop, chances are a few crumbs may have found their way underneath the keys, which can cause issues. To check for this problem, simply turn the laptop upside down and give it a gentle shaking. Many times this is enough to shake loose any food debris that has become stuck underneath the keys. It is also helpful to clean the keyboard periodically with a keyboard vacuum or by using a can of compressed air. Spray the keyboard well between all of the little spaces to ensure a thorough cleaning.

If you think a spilled liquid might be causing your keyboard issues, apply some rubbing alcohol to a rag or a cotton swab and attempt to clean the surface. If it is one or more particular keys that are affected, try removing the key cap and cleaning the spill from underneath. Unless you’re very savvy with computer repair, don’t attempt to take apart the actual key switch. In extreme cases where a large amount of liquid has damaged the keyboard, the keyboard assembly may require replacement. However, in many cases, this is one of the many computer problems you could fix yourself easily at home.

[Read also: Computer Repair 101 - Safety Tips for Working With Computers]

Try Rebooting Your PC

A reboot can solve many computer issues and is always worth a try. If your mouse or trackpad cannot be used to reboot the computer, hold the power button down for several seconds to shut it down and then restart it. Check to see if this has resolved the problem.

It Could Be A Driver Issue

Sometimes keyboard issues are the result of having installed a third-party software program. Issues can also occur when the shut down feature is not used to turn off the laptop. Go to the Device Manager and see if there is a yellow exclamation point where the keyboard is listed. If you see the exclamation point, or if there is no icon at all for the keyboard, you may need to update and install the latest drivers for your keyboard. If you are unable to use your laptop keyboard in its current state to perform this function, you may need to temporarily hook up a USB keyboard to get the task completed.

If All Else Fails, Try A USB Keyboard

If you find yourself in an immediate jam and urgently need your computer to be in working order, hook up a USB keyboard to get you through until you can resolve the problem. This will work in a pinch until you can fix the keyboard yourself or have it repaired.

Poor Connections Might Be The Culprit

Occasionally, malfunctioning keyboards are the results of bad connections between the keyboard and the motherboard. Usually in these instances, the keyboard does not work at all, or else only works here and there. Websites such as or the manufacturer’s service manual, generally available on the manufacturer website, may be able to give you instructions and diagrams that will help you disassemble the laptop to reconnect the ribbon cable to solve the problem. However, if your machine is still under warranty, or if you’re not handy with computer repair of this nature, it may be wise to take it to a service professional.

Keyboard May Have A Defect

Once in awhile the keyboard malfunctions simply because it was defective. If you suspect this is the case, and after simple attempts to fix the problems were unsuccessful, contact the technical support line of the manufacturer. They will be able to tell you if you are still covered under a warranty or extended warranty, and whether or not your machine has been known to have a defective keyboard. In these cases, you can usually get it repaired free of charge. Just remember to back up the data on your computer before taking it into the repair shop or sending it to the manufacturer.

When you clean your keyboard properly on a regular basis, this can help to prevent issues with sticking or non-working keys. Try these simple fixes first before taking your computer in to have it serviced.

[Suggested reading: How to Fix A Broken Laptop Screen]

[Image credit: Thomas Cizauskas, Flickr]

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