How do I fix a broken laptop key or put it back on?

Updated: 06/30/2020 by Computer Hope

Sometimes a key on a laptop keyboard may become loose or fall off. To fix the key and snap it back into place on the keyboard, try each of the following suggestions.

Note

This page is a general reference guide and may not apply to your laptop, as your laptop may have a different keyboard key design. Additionally, if you're trying to remove or put a key back on a desktop keyboard, see: How do I remove the keys on a keyboard?

Fixing a loose keycap

Laptop keycap, key pad, and key retainer

Unlike a desktop key, each key on a laptop keyboard may have three components: the keycap, key pad, and the key retainer, as shown in the picture.

If the keycap is loose but still attached to the laptop, it can often be fixed by pressing down on the keycap. If the keycap re-attaches, a snap while pressing the key down is heard. If this does not fix the issue, we suggest removing the key so it can be re-attached. The re-attachment process is detailed below.

Fixing a broken keycap

Note

If a key, keycap, key pad, or retainer is physically broken or missing, it must be replaced, see: Where can I find a replacement for a keyboard key?

If you're having difficulty putting a key back onto the laptop, follow the steps below. If you're trying to fix the spacebar, skip to the spacebar steps.

  1. Start by first inserting the key retainer into the laptop. If you have a key pad, we suggest inserting it after the retainer is set in place to make things easier. Once the retainer is inserted, it should lie flat and be able to flex (shown in the image below).

Laptop keyboard key retainer

Tip

If you're not sure what direction the laptop key retainer goes, check the orientation of the metal hooks on the base of the keyboard. These metal hooks help determine the orientation of the key retainer laid into them, as the retainer should align with the hooks.

  1. Insert the key pad into the retainer.
  2. Once the above two steps are completed, position the key cap over the retainer in the proper orientation and press down lightly. The key should snap onto the retainer. If the key does not look right, try pressing down on all corners of the key to make sure all clips are snapped into place. Once snapped in, test the key and see if it works again.

Spacebar key steps

Unlike the other keys on the keyboard, the spacebar requires additional steps to get it back on properly. The image below shows the spacebar removed from a laptop. Before placing the spacebar keycap back onto the laptop, a bar (shown below) must be removed by inserting your flathead screwdriver beneath it and gently pulling upward.

Laptop spacebar key

Once this bar is removed, place the new spacebar on the laptop. Be mindful that it is properly oriented over the retainers, and push down to snap it back into place.

Key still doesn't work after fixing or replacing

If the key still doesn't work after putting it back on or replacing the keycap, key pad, or key retainer, the circuit board for the keyboard may not be working. In the case of a problem with the circuit board, you need to replace the entire keyboard, including the circuit board, to fix the problem.

To replace the entire keyboard, contact the laptop manufacturer to see if you can purchase one directly from them. If the manufacturer will not sell a replacement keyboard to you, take your laptop to a computer repair shop.