How to Replace Switches on Mechanical Keyboard

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What to Know

  • Remove the keycaps using a cap pulling tool, then remove the switches with a switch pulling tool. 
  • If the switches don't come out easily, ensure your keyboard supports hot-swapping. 
  • If your keyboard doesn't, you'll need to desolder each switch and solder new switches to the circuit board.

This article explains how to replace switches on a mechanical keyboard.

How Do You Remove a Mechanical Keyboard Switch?

Unlike other keyboards, many mechanical keyboards use hot-swappable switches that are easy to pop out and replace. It does require a couple of special tools, but it's designed to be easy and doesn't require any special knowledge or experience. You can replace your switches with RGB switches if your keyboard supports it, swap out loud clicky switches for quiet linear switches, or replace a worn-out or broken switch.

Before you start replacing switches, try cleaning your keyboard or lubricating your switches to see if that helps.

Here’s how to remove a mechanical keyboard switch if your keyboard supports hot swapping:

  1. Use a keycap puller to remove the caps from each key you want to replace.

    Removing a keycap with a cap puller.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

    The switch may come out right along with the cap. If it does, just hold the switch in one hand and pull the cap off it with the other.

  2. Position a switch pulling tool over the switch, and snap it into place.

    Positioning a switch puller.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

  3. Gently pull straight up.

    Pulling a mechanical switch from a keyboard.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

  4. If the switch doesn’t come out, wiggle it gently.

    Pulling a mechanical keyboard switch.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

    If the switch seems stuck, stop trying to remove it and verify that your keyboard is hot-swappable. The switches may be soldered in place.

  5. Place the replacement switch over the replacement slot, being careful to align it correctly.

    Positioning a replacement mechanical switch over a keyboard.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

  6. Push the switch into place.

    Pushing a mechanical switch into a keyboard.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

    The switch should slide into place easily. If it doesn’t, compare the shape of the switch to the shape of the slot, and make sure you have the switch turned in the right direction.

  7. Pushing a keycap onto a keyboard switch.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

    Push the keycap back onto the switch stem.

How Do You Replace a Button on a Mechanical Keyboard?

Mechanical keyboards have switches, not buttons. The part that may look like a button is called a keycap, and they’re easy to replace. If one of your keycaps has worn out and you can’t see the letter anymore, or you want to install a custom set of keycaps with different colors, it only takes a few minutes.

Here’s how to replace a keycap on a mechanical keyboard:

  1. Position a keycap puller over the cap you want to replace.

    Pushing a cap puller onto a keycap.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

  2. Carefully slide the keycap puller over the cap.

    A keycap puller placed on a mechanical keyboard key.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

    Metal pullers can scratch keycaps, so using a plastic puller is safer if you’ve never done this before.

  3. When you hear the puller click over the edges of the keycap, pull up gently.

    Pulling a mechanical keyboard keycap.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

  4. If the cap doesn’t come off immediately, wiggle slightly from side to side, and gently pull up.

    Removing a mechanical keyboard keycap.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

    If the switch comes out along with the keycap, push it back into place. It's normal, as hot-swappable switches are pulled the same way as keycaps.

  5. Position the replacement keycap over the stem of the switch, and push it into place.

Are All Keyboard Switches Hot Swappable?

There are two kinds of mechanical keyboard switches: hot-swappable and soldered. Hot-swappable switches can be popped out and replaced with minimal effort, while soldered switches are physically soldered to the circuit board. To replace soldered switches, you need to disassemble the keyboard to gain access to the circuit board, and you then have to desolder each switch you want to replace. The switches can then be pulled, replaced, and soldered to the circuit board.

Don’t attempt to replace soldered switches if you aren’t familiar with soldering and desoldering. You may damage the switches or the circuit board.

Here’s how to replace a soldered mechanical keyboard switch:

  1. Disassemble the keyboard until you gain access to the circuit board.

  2. Heat up the solder joints with a soldering iron or desoldering iron.

  3. Remove the solder with a solder sucker or desoldering iron.

  4. Remove the switch.

  5. Put the replacement switch in place.

  6. Solder the new switch to the circuit board.

  • How long do mechanical keyboard switches last?

    Key switches for mechanical keyboards are built to last for 10-15 years of regular use. Some key switches have a rating to let you know how many keypresses (usually millions) they can withstand.

  • How do I make my mechanical keyboard quieter?

    To make your mechanical keyboard quieter, put foam or a desk mat under it and lubricate the switches. Replace your clicky switches with linear switches if possible.

  • How do I fix my mechanical keyboard?

    If your mechanical keyboard isn't working, unplug it and plug it back in, try a different cable, or replace the batteries. For sticky keys, clean the keyboard with alcohol and compressed air. If you're still having problems, you might need to replace the key switch.

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