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Laptop Keyboard Not Working? Try These Fixes


Many of us own laptops, as all of the vital hardware bits, like a keyboard and mouse, are integrated right into them. If those bits stop working, then it 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. This guide explores those reasons and fixes.

Note: for some of these tips, you’ll need to use an external keyboard (or a touch keyboard), so have one on standby.

Laptop Keyboard Not Working After Windows Update

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 making your keyboard malfunction.

If a recent Windows “critical update” has caused your keyboard to stop working, you can troubleshoot using its backlight key in some models, such as Lenovo.

If your laptop keyboard is not working after a Windows update, follow the steps below:

  1. Unplug any external keyboards, turn on your PC, and sign in to your PC using the touch keyboard (formerly called the onscreen keyboard) if necessary.
  2. To use the touch keyboard, click in the bottom-right corner of your System Tray, then click the “Touch keyboard” icon. The keyboard will launch in its full-size layout, which can be reduced.
  1. Once you’ve done that, switch on your keyboard backlight if your laptop has that feature. You probably can’t do this using your keyboard, so head to your laptop’s keyboard software (this will vary depending on your laptop) and turn the backlight on through there.
  2. 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. This app also works with HP, Dell, and Acer laptops.
iCUE software to enable various settings on a laptop.
  1. 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.
  2. Switch your laptop back on, and your keyboard should work again.

If your keyboard doesn’t support a backlight button, a system restore will undo the damage due to a faulty update.

Laptop Keyboard Software Not Working

If your laptop does boot to BIOS when you press the relevant button, 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 must have a way to enter your Windows password.

Method 1: Check Windows for Keyboard System File Errors

If your laptop keyboard isn’t working because of a software issue, 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.

  1. 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.”
Run the Command Prompt as administrator.
  1. In the command prompt, enter the following and wait for the process to complete:
System File Checker command in Administrator mode in Windows 11.
  1. After the System File Checker completes the verification and assessment for errors, all of the corrupt files will have been successfully repaired. You can check log files at the given PC location to learn whether some of those issues were due to keyboard problems.
Laptop Keyboard Not Working System File Checker Repairs Done
  1. In some cases, the Command Prompt will update the status for a restart. Finish the restart on the device to complete the pending repairs.

Tip: if you need to do more in Command Prompt, you can always enable copy-paste to make it easier.

Method 2: Reinstall Keyboard Driver

Most of the time, especially with older laptops, the faulty keyboard issues stem from corrupt or outdated keyboard drivers. This requires a straightforward fix of reinstalling the drivers.

  1. Go to “Device Manager” by typing devmgmt.msc inside the Windows Run command, Win + R.
  2. 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.
  3. Right-click the keyboard, click “Uninstall device,” then reboot your PC. The keyboard should reinstall instantly, even when you’re just logging into Windows. Hopefully, your keyboard will be back up and running.
Uninstall keyboard driver from Device Manager in Windows 11.
  1. Before uninstalling the drivers, do a right-click check with “update drivers” to open an Update Drivers window.
  2. Search automatically for the keyboard drivers. If Windows has determined the best drivers are available, skip ahead.
Search automatically for drivers of keyboard in Windows 11.

Good to Know: if you continue to have issues, there’s also a way to roll back a driver in Windows.

Method 3: Run Keyboard Troubleshooter

Sometimes the Windows built-in troubleshooter is the best way to determine what went wrong with a keyboard.

  1. Go to “Settings -> System -> Troubleshoot -> Other troubleshooters.”
  2. Look for the Keyboard option and click “Run.” This will open a new pop-up window.
Run keyboard troubleshooter in Windows 11 Other troubleshooters menu.
  1. Wait a few seconds for the laptop to detect any potential problem areas with the keyboard.
  2. Most software issues with the keyboard are due to a text services framework not running correctly or other input method errors.
Detecting issues in Keyboard troubleshooter of Windows 11.

If there are no issues due to the laptop’s software, the troubleshooter will not return any results. However, if there are any, they will be fixed right away.

Laptop Keyboard Hardware Not Working

Sometimes the issue with your keyboard has nothing to do with the software but is instead an issue with the hardware. Luckily, you can troubleshoot this issue too.

To isolate the problem, repeatedly press the button that takes you to the BIOS screen as your laptop is booting up. This varies between laptop brands, but it’s usually the Delete, F2, F8 or F12 key. If your laptop boots to Windows, you’re either pressing the wrong button, or 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 as simple as the connector between the keyboard and motherboard has become loose.

laptop-keyboard-not-working-connector-cable

If you’re uncomfortable with opening your laptop, 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, ensure it’s not loose (or worse, broken) and firmly in the slot.

If the ribbon or connector is damaged, you’ll need to get your laptop repaired. If it was just loose, you may have solved your problem!

Good to Know: if you are still having hardware issues, you can try these other suggestions to repeat your broken laptop keyboard.

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, this is almost certainly not a hardware problem. You may just need to do one of the following: turn off the filter keys or adjust the keyboard’s speed.

Method 1: Turn Off Filter Keys

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, making typing easier for users with hand tremors.

To turn off Filter Keys, click the Start menu, then the “Settings cog icon -> Accessibility -> Keyboard -> Filter Keys.” Click Keyboard in the pane on the left, then scroll down and turn off the default option for “Keyboard shortcut for Filter keys.”

Turn off Filter keys in keyboard for the Windows 11 device.

Method 2: Adjust the Keyboard’s Speed Variables

Your Windows keyboard’s response rate can be tweaked using a few speed variables of Keyboard Properties. These enable the system to adjust to undiagnosed keyboard and trackpad issues.

  1. Open the Control Panel from the search menu. Go to “View by Category” and click “Small icons.”
View Control Panel's small icons.
  1. Once the small icons are visible, click “Keyboard” to open the keyboard properties in a new pop-up window.
Open keyboard settings in Control Panel from its small icons.
  1. Adjust the “Repeat delay” and “Repeat rate” variables slightly in relation to the default value. Don’t move the sliders too much. You can always click and hold down a key to check whether the keyboard is comfortable. Change the cursor blink rate slightly if needed.
Laptop Keyboard Not Working Keyboard Properties Speed Variables

If the above methods fail, you can revisit the “Reinstall Keyboard Driver” section of this guide. Slow or unresponsive typing can often be the result of a faulty driver.

Good to Know: you can remove old drivers from Windows at any time.

Keyboard Not Working Due to Dirt and Spills

Over the years, a laptop’s keyboard accumulates plenty of dust, dirt, and sticky grime. According to some studies, keyboards can have more bacteria than a toilet seat.

A filthy laptop keyboard also means clogged keys that are slower to respond to your typing. If you’ve experienced coffee or liquid spills, you will feel the overall sluggishness at some point. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to go that far for you to stop working with the keyboard.

Most professionals use a mini vacuum desk cleaner, as it works best to suck up all the accumulated debris. You can also use cotton swabs wrapped in a blunt object. You don’t want to scratch too hard on the surface or pull the keys out through aggressive swabbing.

Vacuum cleaner to clean a laptop's keyboard.

You may also encounter problems with your laptop touchpad due to spills and dirt, but these can also be fixed.

When your laptop is back up and running, you can further boost your productivity by tweaking your default keyboard shortcuts in Windows.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can viruses cause keyboard malfunction?

A virus infection can and does stop a keyboard from working correctly. Certain viruses can affect the keyboard’s layout, make the backlight turn on and off without warning, and may cause one or more keys to stop working correctly. In such cases, connect an external keyboard and fix the issues using Windows Defender’s security checks.

How do I fix some of the keys on my keyboard not working?

Power off the laptop and clean the keyboard using cotton swabs or a suction pump. Turn it on again and check whether the problem has been resolved. If not, check the Device Manager for corrupt drivers or exclamation points. If it seems correct, go for a System File Checker analysis. Also, ensure you have the keyboard layout you can detect from Keyboard Properties. If none of these fixes are helping, there may be possible hardware issues that can only be fixed by opening the laptop’s back panel. Have your laptop manufacturer repair it.

Can I use liquid disinfectant to clean my laptop keyboard?

Never use any liquid to wipe the laptop keyboard, even by mistake. It’s not healthy for your laptop’s keyboard and other circuitry.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.

Sayak Boral
Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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