How to Fix It When a Keyboard Won't Type

Eight ways to fix your keyboard and get back to typing

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This article explains how to fix an unresponsive keyboard. This solution guide covers built-in keyboards as well as wired and wireless keyboards.

Why Won’t My Keyboard Type?

Some of the reasons a keyboard might be unresponsive include:

  • The computer is frozen: If the computer or an app is frozen or locked up, you won’t be able to type.
  • The keyboard is disconnected: The keyboard may have been unplugged, ran out of batteries, or the wireless connection may have been disrupted.
  • The intended text field isn’t selected: If the text field you’re trying to type in has been deselected, your keyboard will either not type or it will be typing somewhere off-screen (so it appears like it's not working).
  • Software or driver problems: Your keyboard driver or some other software issue may be preventing the keyboard from working.

First things first: Check to see if your keyboard has an on/off switch and be sure it's switched to the On position. If it's on and is battery-powered, be sure it has working batteries or is at least somewhat charged.

How to Fix It When a Keyboard Won't Type

If your keyboard isn't working, try these fixes:

  1. Restart your computer. If your computer is responsive, use the mouse to restart it. After it reboots, check to see if the keyboard has started to work.

    If computer isn’t responsive, then you’ll have to try to fix your frozen computer before you can proceed. Once the computer is responsive again, you can proceed with the restart.

  2. Check your keyboard connection. If you’re using a USB keyboard, try unplugging it and plugging it back in. If that doesn’t work, try plugging it into a different USB port or into a different computer to see if that works.

    You can also check to see if a different USB cable works if your keyboard uses a detachable USB cable.

  3. Make sure you have the correct text field selected. Click directly in the text field where you want to type, then try typing again.

    If you have accidentally clicked outside the text field where you want to type, your computer won't be accepting any key presses or it will send the type to the wrong place. Even if the app you want to type in is on the screen, it may not be the focus app.

  4. Disable sticky and filter keys. If your keyboard seems to work but is behaving unexpectedly and doesn't type the keys you are pressing, you may be able to fix it by disabling sticky, filter, and toggle keys.

    Navigate to Settings > Accessibility > Keyboard, and disable sticky keys, filter keys, and toggle keys.

  5. Try selecting a different text field. Open a new app, and try to type in that app.

    For example, if you were trying to type in a word processor, try opening your web browser, click in the URL bar, and see if you can type there. If you can, then close and restart the first app to see if that fixes the problem.

  6. Check the wireless connection, if your keyboard is wireless. If the keyboard connects using a wireless USB dongle, try removing the dongle and plugging it back in.

    If it connects via Bluetooth, try turning the Bluetooth on your computer on and off, and check to make sure that your keyboard connects. You may need to pair your keyboard again if it doesn’t connect.

  7. Clean the keyboard. If your keyboard is dirty, that can keep it from working correctly. Dirty keyboards will typically have some stuck keys while having others that work, so this is more likely to be your problem if some of the keys work.

    If you find sticky residue under the keys, it may have failed due to spilled liquid. Cleaning may help, and you can sometimes even save a laptop keyboard after a spill, but it’s also possible it may have suffered permanent damage.

  8. Update your drivers. If your keyboard still won’t type, then you can try updating your drivers. There may be a new driver for the keyboard that will allow it to start working again.

    If your keyboard stopped working after an update, you may need to roll back your driver instead.

  • What do I do if my laptop keyboard won't type?

    It's unlikely that your laptop's keyboard is suffering from a connection problem since it's built into the system, but it is possible that the keyboard lock may have accidentally been turned on. The steps to unlock a locked laptop keyboard can differ depending on the make and model, but look for a function key with a keyboard icon and press it to see if that solves the problem. If not, look up the process for unlocking your specific laptop model's keyboard and try that.

  • What should I do if my Chromebook keyboard stops typing?

    Restart your Chromebook and try typing again. The issue could also be caused by an error with your using account, so sign out and sign back in with Guest Mode to test the keyboard again. If the keyboard works in Guest Mode, delete the problem account and reconnect it.

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