No keys on my keyboard work

Updated: 04/26/2017 by Computer Hope

Dead keyboard RIPIt can be extremely frustrating when your keyboard won't work. The keyboard is the primary mode of input to your computer. If you have no keyboard, you can't perform simple tasks like logging in to your operating system, or even entering your computer's BIOS setup.

For this reason, we always recommend having a backup keyboard somewhere handy. A cabled keyboard with a USB interface is a safe option that can reliably be used on any laptop or desktop computer made in this millennium. You can usually pick up a brand new one at your local office supply or electronics store for about $10, or find used or refurbished keyboards for sale online. Always try to keep a spare keyboard handy!

If you have no working keyboard, your troubleshooting options are very limited. Many of the following steps require that you use another keyboard to diagnose the problem. If you don't have one, we recommend that you do as many of the following steps as you can.

Note: On this page, we discuss what to do when the keyboard won't work at all. If you're only having problems with specific keys, you should read our troubleshooting guide, what to do when not all keys on a keyboard are working.

Check for hardware problems

Check your connection

Sometimes the simplest solution will fix the problem. Verify that your keyboard is plugged in securely. Disconnect the keyboard from the computer and then reconnect it into the same port. If you have a USB keyboard, you may want to try a different USB port to isolate the issue.

Check wireless keyboard batteries and wireless adapters

If you are using a wireless keyboard make sure the batteries in the keyboard haven't died. Also, check that the wireless receiver (usually USB) is connected properly to the computer, and that nothing is blocking the signal.

Keyboards with PS/2 ports

If yours is a PS/2 keyboard, try another PS/2 keyboard (if you have access to one) in the same port. If you connect a known working keyboard to the computer PS/2 port and it doesn't work, the PS/2 hardware may have failed. This would suggest that the motherboard itself needs to be replaced to fix the problem. If you have USB ports on your computer, try a USB keyboard instead.

USB hub

If you are using a USB keyboard and the keyboard is connected to a USB hub, try connecting the keyboard directly into the back of the computer. If the keyboard works after doing so, the USB hub is likely defective and needs to be replaced.

Test the keyboard outside Windows

Computer keyboardIn some situations, a keyboard may not work in Windows because of an issue with software that interacts directly with the keyboard, such as ToggleKeys. If the keyboard has illuminated LED indicators for Num Lock, Caps Lock, or Scroll Lock, try rebooting the computer and see if pressing these keys toggles the indicator on and off. You can also test your keyboard by trying to press the key to enter CMOS setup. This key is usually F2, F12, or Del. Your computer's boot messages will specify the correct key.

If the keyboard is working as the computer is booting up, something in Windows is preventing the keyboard from working. Try booting the computer into Safe Mode. In Safe Mode, your operating system loads the bare minimum software and device drivers to reduce potential conflicts. If your keyboard works in Safe Mode, try uninstalling or re-installing any recently added software.

If the Num Lock and Caps Lock do not work, and you are unable to enter CMOS setup, all you can do is try another keyboard. If another keyboard doesn't work, chances are the motherboard needs to be replaced, and it may be time to consider replacing your computer.

Try Updating your drivers

Note: You need a working keyboard to follow these steps. If you cannot get any keyboard to work on your computer, skip this section.

Windows update

Sometimes devices stop functioning because their software is out of date. If your operating system is Microsoft Windows, Windows Update should automatically keep your drivers up-to-date. To run Windows Update manually, follow these steps.

  1. Press the Windows key, type Windows Update, and then press Enter.
  2. Follow the instructions in the window that appears.

Manually installing drivers

If you suspect that Windows update was not able to find your keyboard drivers, visit the manufacturer's website to download them. Getting keyboard drivers are necessary if you are using a special or programmable keyboard.

Check for the keyboard in Device Manager

Windows has a built-in Device Manager that can help you to identify and resolve issues with hardware devices, including keyboards.

Additional information

  • See our keyboard and keys definitions for further information and related links on these terms.