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Here’s how to unlock a keyboard that’s locked

A locked keyboard is great if you don't want to accidentally hit the keys or to prevent kids and pets from making changes to your computer without your knowledge, but if you can't unlock it, that's a real problem that needs fixing. Fortunately, if your keyboard is unresponsive, there are a few things you can do to get it working again.

Here's how to unlock a keyboard that's locked.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

5 minutes

What You Need

  • A keyboard (wireless, wired, built-in)

  • PC

A USB dongle for a Logitech wireless keyboard.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Check USB dongles and USB cables

As is the case with wireless mice, wireless keyboards also come with their own USB dongles. You may have inadvertently moved the PC around or the dongle may have come loose over time. Remove the USB dongle from its port and reinsert it. If that doesn’t do the trick, consider that maybe the dongle has become faulty.

If you're using a wired keyboard, try unplugging it and replugging it again, too.

The on and off switch for a Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Switch the on/off button

Sometimes the solution to the issue of a locked keyboard can be as simple as flipping a switch. In the case of wireless keyboards, the majority of them have an on/off button in order to preserve the battery. Check if the button is switched on.

Consider replacing the battery, as that may have run out of juice. It might be that you're out of battery rather than dealing with a locked keyboard.

Updating drivers

The keyboard may have stopped working because the driver is outdated or a system glitch may have corrupted it. Whatever the case may be, updating the keyboard drivers may unlock your locked keyboard.

If you're on Windows 10, you’ll need to go to your Device manager (Start menu > Windows system > Control panel > Device manager). For Windows 11, select Start menu > Settings > System > About > Device manager. Locate the keyboard driver by clicking the Keyboards field. Right-click on Standard PS/2 keyboard and choose the Update driver option. You’ll be required to restart your system once the update has been successfully completed.

Furthermore, if you select the Properties option from that same drop-down list, Windows will tell you if it finds any problems with the driver itself.

Do note that if you have a wireless keyboard, it may not show up as what's listed for a standard laptop keyboard (Standard PS/2 keyboard).

The option to update drivers within the Device Manager on Windows 10.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Uninstalling and reinstalling drivers

If updating your driver fails to unlock your keyboard, try this method instead (use at your own risk).

Step 1: Go to Device manager on Windows. Right-click the keyboard entry and select the Uninstall device tab.

The option to uninstall the keyboard drivers within the Device Manager on Windows 10.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Restart your PC. When it reboots, it should install the keyboard driver for you.

If it doesn’t, attach another keyboard to your system if you can, go to the manufacturer’s website for the locked keyboard, and download the necessary drivers.

Alternatively, follow this procedure on another machine entirely, save it to a USB/external hard drive, and use your mouse to install it on the affected system.

Disabling sticky and filter key functions on Windows 10/11

You may have accidentally locked your keyboard due to the sticky and filter key functions being enabled.

Step 1: On Windows 10, open Settings, and then select the Ease of access tab. Scroll down to the Interaction section on the sidebar and select Keyboard. Turn off Filter keys and Sticky keys with their corresponding switches with your mouse.

The Sticky and Filter Keys on/off button in Windows 10.
Digital Trends

Step 2: Similarly for Windows 11, click on the Start menu, open Settings and head over to the Accessibility section on the left under which you should find the Keyboard settings. On the top there should be toggles to turn off Sticky keys and Filter keys.

Screenshot showing how to disable sticky and filter keys on Windows 11.
Digital Trends

Other general solutions

Step 1: Restart your computer: Yes, it might seem like an obvious solution, but you’d be surprised at how many people have unlocked the keyboard after just restarting their machine. Try it.

The button to restart Windows 10 via the Start menu.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: On-screen keyboard: This is more of a temporary solution, but it's still effective nevertheless. On Windows 10, open the Keyboard section within Ease of access and switch on the Use the on-screen keyboard button. If you are using Windows 11, you can find the toggle to enable on-screen keyboard by heading to Start > Settings > Accessibility > Keyboard.

This could at the very least allow you to type on your system, albeit via a much longer procedure. For example, you could type in the necessary search term for drivers that you can download for your keyboard (be sure to make sure it's from the manufacture's official website).

The option to enable an on-screen keyboard feature in Windows 10.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Mechanical damage: Your keyboard may not be working anymore due to certain mechanical damage the product has been affected with. For example, you may have dropped it on the floor and that could have broken some of the modules inside the keyboard itself. Similarly, you may have spilled some water or coffee on it.

To this end, connect the keyboard to another system and see if it works. If it doesn't, it's likely you'll simply need to buy a new keyboard. you can make an informed decision by checking out our favorite gaming keyboards, or if you want something more comfortable, then here are some of the best ergonomic keyboards.

If you have a laptop and none of the aforementioned fixes have unlocked your keyboard, then it may be time to get it examined at a trusted PC repair outlet.

how to unlock a keyboard thats locked smashed up computer on office desk
Johanna Parkin/Getty Images

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Zak Islam
Computing Writer
Zak Islam was a freelance writer at Digital Trends covering the latest news in the technology world, particularly the…
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