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How to fix a keyboard that won’t type

If your keyboard just isn't doing anything when you type on it, that's a problem. Fortunately, though, it's often a problem that's relatively easy to fix. You might need to turn it off and on again, unplug and replug it, recharge its battery, or give it a thoroughly good cleaning. There are a range of options that may (or may not) get it working again, but if you work through them, you're bound to find one that gets it up and running.

Here's how to fix a keyboard that won't type, in a few different ways.

Difficulty

Moderate

Duration

30 minutes

What You Need

  • A keyboard that won't type

  • Compressed air, isopropyl alcohol (optional)

A person typing on a keyboard, connected to a Pixel Tablet.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Are you typing in the right place?

Before we start trying to fix your keyboard, just make sure that the place you're trying to type is the place you've selected. If you're trying to type in the URL bar of your browser, but you've selected a field on the webpage instead, it won't type where you want, and may not even type at all.

To make sure you are trying to type where you want, make a point of clicking the field a couple of times. If that doesn't work, try selecting somewhere else, like a notepad document. Then try typing on the keyboard again to see if maybe the webpage or another area where you typed is malfunctioning, rather than your keyboard.

A USB cable connected to the Corsair K70 LUX RGB keyboard.
The Corsair K70 LUX RGB Keyboard Corsair

Check the keyboard connection

If your keyboard has become disconnected from your PC for some reason, then typing won't work because the signal can't reach your computer. Make sure that any USB cable is attached -- and try unplugging it and replugging it, if it is. If you have a wireless keyboard, make sure it is definitely connected to the PC. You can also try disabling the wireless connection and then reenabling it.

If you're using a Bluetooth keyboard, you could also try forgetting the keyboard and then re-pairing it. This guide is for Bluetooth headphones, but it works the same for keyboards.

Wireless keyboards also need battery. Check that yours is charged up -- if it has lighting, checking that it's working is a good test for whether it at least has power.

A good test to see if your keyboard is connected and receiving inputs is to enable the Caps Lock. If your keyboard's Caps Lock indicator lights up, you know the keyboard is recognizing your commands, even if it they aren't showing up on your PC.

Restart your PC

Reboot your PC. It's a tried-and-true fix for just about everything, as turning electronics off and back on again can often be what you need. If your keyboard won't type, try rebooting the PC it's connected to.

Someone cleaning a keyboard with a cotton swab.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Clean your keyboard

Normally, if your keyboard is dirty to the point where it won't receive inputs, it'll only be on one or two keys, but if your keyboard is particularly dirty, or you've spilled something on it, it's possible that it will no longer type properly. Giving it a good cleaning can sometimes reverse this, and it never hurts to have a cleaner peripheral to work or game on.

A simple way to clean a keyboard is to use a can of compressed air to blow out any gunk or debris from under the keycaps. There are keyboard brushes you can use, too, as well as your vacuum cleaner if you're careful. For a deeper clean, remove the keycaps and use isopropyl alcohol on a paper towel to clean the contacts of each key you think may be effected -- or all of them if you want to do a really deep clean.

Consider taking a picture of your keyboards' layout before you start, so you remember where all the caps go.

For more tips, here's how our guide on how to clean a keyboard (without damaging the keys).

Update your drivers

If you have a driver conflict or your keyboard's driver has been corrupted somehow, that might stop the keyboard from working. Update your PC's chipset drivers by visiting your PC or motherboard manufacturer's websites and downloading the latest chipset drivers.

For keyboard drivers, if you're using a standalone keyboard from a manufacturer that makes its own drivers, download them from the official website. For generic keyboards, or laptop keyboards, search for Device Manager in Windows search, and look for your keyboard in the drop-down list. Right-click it, and select Update driver followed by Search automatically for new drivers and follow the on-screen prompts.

Update your operating system

It never hurts to update your OS if you have some kind of problem you can't solve. It's unlikely that you'll get some keyboard update, but you never know if you've encountered a unique bug that the latest update fixes. Update your version of Windows, macOS, or ChromeOS to see if that solves the keyboard issue.

Run a malware scan

Malware can cause all sorts of weird problems with a PC, and if you still can't get your keyboard working, it doesn't hurt to see if some annoying bug is causing the problem. Update your antivirus software to the latest version and run a manual scan and then try rebooting to see if the keyboard works again.

If you don't have antivirus protection, here are some of our favorites.

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