Why don't any keys on my keyboard work?

Updated: 12/31/2020 by Computer Hope
Dead keyboard

It 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 great option for 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 limited. Some of the following steps require that you use another keyboard to diagnose the problem. If you don't have one, we recommend you do as many of the following steps as you can.

Note

On this page, we discuss what to do when the keyboard doesn't work at all. If you're only having problems with specific keys, read: Some of the keys on my computer keyboard aren't working.

Note

If you're using a laptop and the keyboard is not working, the issue may be due to a loose or bad connection on the motherboard. Spilled liquid on a laptop keyboard can also cause the keyboard to stop working. If the troubleshooting options on this page don't help you fix the issue, we recommend having your laptop looked at by a technician.

Check for hardware problems

Check your connection

Sometimes the simplest solution fixes the problem. Verify the keyboard is plugged in securely. Disconnect the keyboard from the computer and 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 the wireless keyboard power switch

Most, if not all, wireless keyboards have a power switch so you can turn a keyboard off when not in use to save battery life. Check the power switch on the keyboard and make sure it is turned on.

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 you are using 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. If so, the motherboard itself may need to be replaced to fix the problem. If you have USB ports on your computer, try a USB keyboard instead.

USB hub

If you're using a USB keyboard and the keyboard connects 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 keyboard

In some situations, a keyboard may not work in Windows because of an issue with software that interacts directly with the keyboard (e.g., 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 the BIOS setup. This key is usually F2, F12, or Del. Your computer's boot messages specifies 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 reinstalling any recently added software.

If the Num Lock and Caps Lock keys do not work, and you cannot enter BIOS 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.

Check for the keyboard in Device Manager

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

Reinstalling the keyboard through Device Manager

To reinstall the keyboard through Device Manager, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Device Manager and verify no yellow exclamation marks are seen and that a Keyboards option is listed.
  2. If no errors are seen, and Keyboards is visible, click the arrow next to Keyboards and highlight the keyboard device.
  3. Once highlighted, right-click the device and choose Uninstall. Repeat this step until Keyboards is no longer listed in Device Manager.
  4. Once complete, highlight the computer at the top of the Device Manager list and then click Actions and then Scan for hardware changes.
  5. If the keyboard is working and detected, it should be re-detected by Windows and re-appear. After this step is complete, test the keyboard again.

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.

Replace keyboard

If the troubleshooting options above do not yield any results, or you do not have a spare keyboard, we recommend replacing the keyboard. Having the keyboard fixed is usually not cost-effective, as it is most likely cheaper to buy a new keyboard.

Additional information