Why are keys on my computer keyboard repeating?

Updated: 08/02/2020 by Computer Hope
Computer keyboard

If your keyboard seems to be repeating one or more keys when you press them, it could be due to one of the reasons below.

Spilled liquid or food

If food or liquid has ever been spilled into the keyboard, it can cause the keys to stick and be repeated. Spilled liquid can also cause the circuit board in the keyboard to short out, causing keys to be repeated. It could be worth trying to use canned air and blowing out any food material and dry out any spilled liquid, to see if that fixes the repeating keys issue.

Food and some liquids may also leave behind a sticky residue, which could cause the keys to continue sticking and repeating. The sticky residue can be very difficult to remove and may require you to pull keys off the keyboard and clean underneath them with rubbing alcohol.

  • See our computer cleaning page for additional steps in cleaning your keyboard and other hardware.

Loose or bad connection

Make sure the connection between the keyboard and computer is not loose by disconnecting and reconnecting the keyboard. When disconnecting, keep the below suggestions in mind.

  • When disconnecting, make sure nothing connects between the keyboard and the computer. Keyloggers and other devices may cause keys to repeat.
  • If your keyboard is a PS/2 connection keyboard, make sure to shut down the computer before disconnecting and reconnecting.
  • If you're using a USB keyboard, make sure it is directly connected to the computer and not a USB hub.

Sticking keys

As keyboards get used and wear down over time, some of the keys can begin to stick. Sometimes it's a physical sticking, where the keys don't release back to their normal position after you press them causing the keyboard to repeat those keys.

Other times the keys may release back to their normal position, but the circuit board in the keyboard may be sticking, causing the keys to be repeated. When this occurs, it usually is a sign that you need to replace the keyboard.

Software bug or glitch

A software program may have a bug or glitch that is causing one or more keys to repeat. It may not be a fault of the keyboard, but rather the software's receiving and interpretation of the inputs from the keyboard. Restarting the computer may resolve this issue. If you continue to experience the problem in the same program, make sure you have all the latest updates for that program.

It is also possible for a virus or malware infection to cause keys to repeat. Viruses and malware can interfere with a software's ability to receive and interpret inputs from the keyboard, resulting in the software thinking a key was pressed multiple times. Make sure you have an updated antivirus and anti-malware program installed, in case a virus or malware infections is causing problems.

While it's uncommon, there's also a possibility the keyboard requires software to be installed. This software may be necessary for the computer to accurately interpret inputs from the keyboard, especially if it's a keyboard that has programmable function keys. In most cases, this type of software comes with the keyboard when purchased and is also often available on the keyboard manufacturer's website.

The reasons above are the most common causes of keys being repeated. It's also possible that the keyboard is old and no longer functioning correctly. If the suggestions above did not resolve the issue or the sticking keys are being caused by spilled food or liquid, we suggest replacing the keyboard. Keyboards are rather inexpensive and considered a throwaway device, so it's not likely worth trying to find a computer repair shop to fix it.

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