Some of the keys on my keyboard aren't working

Updated: 06/07/2019 by Computer Hope
Computer keyboard

When the keys on a keyboard don't work, it's usually due to mechanical failure. If this is the case, the keyboard needs to be replaced. However, sometimes non-functioning keys can be fixed. The following sections contain common issues and their causes as well as methods to try and remedy those problems.


The steps in this article are for those whose keyboards still have some keys that work. We have a separate page for troubleshooting keyboards that have no working keys.

Function keys not working

F-Lock key and indicator light on a Microsoft keyboard

If the function keys are not working, the problem may be that you have a function lock or F-Lock key that needs to be toggled. The F-Lock key is used to turn the F keys (F1 through F12) or secondary functions of regular keys on and off.


Some keyboards may label the F-Lock key as the Fn key.

Keys on the number pad are not working

If the keys on the number pad do not work or are behaving oddly (for instance, if they are moving your cursor instead of typing a number), try pressing the Num Lock key. Num Lock is used to switch between the primary function (numbers) and secondary functions (arrow keys, Home, Del, etc.) of the numeric keypad.

Some keys aren't used in certain programs

Some keys, such as the function keys (F1 through F12), do not work with every application. Test the key that isn't working in more than one program, such as Notepad, a word processor, and your preferred Internet browser.

Program or driver interference

Try rebooting your computer; it's not uncommon for a program or operating system to cause problems with a keyboard that can prevent some of the keys from working. If rebooting didn't help and you're using Windows, try starting it in Safe Mode to make sure no background programs are running. If your keyboard works in Safe Mode, it's likely that one of the programs or device drivers you have installed is causing the problem.

Dirty keyboard

Dust, dirt, hair, and other debris can fall into your keyboard over time and obstruct a key's movement or interfere with its circuitry. Try removing the key that isn't working and clean the area under and around it.


You can also try blowing away any debris in the spaces between your keys using a can of compressed air.

If all else fails, replace the keyboard

If all of the previous suggestions have been completed and one or more keys are still not working, it is likely that the keyboard is defective and needs to be replaced.