If you’re using a Windows laptop, you may find keyboard activation is getting in your way – you may be using the touchscreen capabilities on a Surface model, for example, but accidentally keep hitting keys. Or you may have an external keyboard accessory that you prefer to use, and don’t want the other keyboard causing any trouble.
Fortunately, Windows has a method to quickly disable the keyboard if it’s creating any problems. Let’s go through exactly what to do, and how to turn the keyboard back on again if you need to use it.
Open Device Manager
Before beginning, log into your Windows account. It’s always a good idea to make sure your drivers and operating system are updated so you’re working with the latest interface and data, but it’s not absolutely necessary if you are in a hurry.
Step 1: Select the Start menu’s search box.
Step 2: Type in Device Manager. The top result in the search box should be the Device Manager app itself. Select it to open this app.
Find your keyboard
Step 1: In the Device Manager, you’ll see an alphabetical list of devices your computer is using. Look for the Keyboards option on this list, and select it to continue.
Step 2: The Keyboards dropdown menu will show you any keyboards recognized by your laptop. If you have connected an external keyboard, for example, you should see it here.
However, right now you are looking for the internal keyboard your laptop normally uses. The problem is that this keyboard may have different names depending on the type of laptop you are using. Disconnect your external keyboard if necessary, and look for keyboards that say “Standard” or “HID” as these are often the internal keyboard.
Disable the keyboard
The next steps will depend on the laptop you are using and what options are available to you. Some laptops make this a lot easier than others, but we'll cover what to do in either case.
Step 1: Start by right-clicking on the internal keyboard. In the menu that appears, look for the option that says Disable. If you see it, you can simply select and your laptop keyboard will be turned off. This is by far the easiest method.
Step 2: Without the Disable option, you can choose the Uninstall option to remove the keyboard drivers completely. Without the drivers, the keyboard won’t function. There’s just one catch -- Windows tends to automatically detect its internal keyboard and re-install the drivers when you try this, especially if you shut down the laptop and then restart it again. So you can choose Uninstall, but you may have to do it a couple of times to make sure Windows gets the message, and it will probably only last until you turn your laptop off again.
For users that only want to disable the laptop’s keyboard temporarily for this session, the Uninstall method can work well. Otherwise, it’s a lot of work to get rid of keyboard functionality over and over again.
On some laptops, you can use sleep or hibernation modes to safely semi-shut things down, but without the full restart that will trigger automatic installation for the keyboard drivers. Try this uninstall-and-sleep option on your laptop to see if it works.
Enable the keyboard again when you are finished
You can revisit Device Manager any time you want and right-click on the internal keyboard once again to make more changes. To turn the keyboard back on, you can select Enable, or Update your drivers if you chose to uninstall them. This should get your keyboard working again. If something goes wrong or nothing seems to happen, restart your laptop to help kickstart the process.
If you are using an external keyboard, it’s a good idea to avoid connecting it until the internal keyboard has been switched off. You may also want to check out our guide to the best Windows keyboard shortcuts to help you save some time!
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