How to Turn On the Keyboard Light

Touch typing in the dark getting you down? Turn on the lights

What to Know

  • Try F5, F9, or F11 to turn on the keyboard light on your Windows laptop.
  • On a Mac, press the Increase Brightness key (it looks like a little rising sun).
  • Most modern laptops have backlit keyboards, but some budget models don’t have this feature.

This article explains how to turn on the keyboard light on computers with this capability, including Windows and macOS computers.

How Do I Make My Keyboard Light Up?

If your laptop or keyboard supports it, turning on the keyboard light is typically just a matter of finding the right button. In some cases, you may find the keyboard light is disabled in your operating system settings or an app provided by your computer’s manufacturer. The button or buttons which usually control your keyboard light may not function in this scenario. If so, you’ll have to enable the keyboard light in your operating system settings or the app provided by your computer’s manufacturer.

Not all keyboards light up. Some manufacturers don’t offer it on their lower-end laptops or only include it as an extra-cost option. If you can’t get your keyboard to light up, check with the manufacturer to make sure it has an illuminated keyboard.

How to Turn On the Keyboard Light On Windows Computers

Windows computers assign one of the function keys to control the keyboard light, but it isn’t the same key for every computer. Each manufacturer sets the key independently of the others. Hence, you have to look at the function keys, experiment with the function keys, or contact the manufacturer to determine which key to push.

The exact way the keyboard light key functions also differs from one manufacturer to another. Some manufacturers allow you only to turn the light on or off, some provide a couple of brightness levels, and others have multiple brightness steps.

The most common keys controlling the keyboard light on Windows computers are F5, F9, and F11.

Here’s how to turn on the keyboard light on Windows computers using the keyboard:

  1. Locate the button which controls the keyboard light.

    They keyboard light key (F5) on a Windows laptop keyboard.

    The button may have an F-number, or it may include an icon that looks like three boxes with light rays extending from the left side.

  2. Press the button, i.e. F5, F9, or F11.

    Pressing the keyboard light button on a Windows laptop.
     Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire
  3. Press the button again if you aren’t satisfied with the brightness.

    Adjusting the brightness of a keyboard light.
     Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

What if a Windows Keyboard Light Won’t Turn On?

If pressing the correct key on your keyboard doesn’t turn on or adjust your keyboard light, then you’ll need to change it in Windows Mobility settings or an app provided by your manufacturer. This setting isn’t always available in Windows Mobility settings, as it’s an option control placed there by computer manufacturers. If you don’t see the option in Windows Mobility settings, contact your manufacturer for more information about their proprietary app.

Here’s how to turn on or adjust a Windows keyboard light using Mobility settings:

  1. Press Windows Key + X and click Mobility Center.

    Mobility Center highlighted in Windows 10.
  2. Locate the Keyboard Brightness setting.

    The Windows Mobility Center with the Keyboard Brightness section highlighted.

    If there is no Keyboard Brightness setting, or there is no manufacturer-specific section at all, this option is not available on your computer. Contact the manufacturer for more information.

  3. Click the slider and drag it to the right.

    Adjusting keyboard brightness in Windows Mobility Center.

How to Turn on the Keyboard Light on a Mac

Two buttons control the keyboard light on Macs and MacBooks. One button lowers the brightness, and the other raises it. If the keyboard light is off, then pressing the Increase Brightness key will turn it on. The Decrease Brightness button is on the F5 key, and the Increase Brightness button is on the F6 key on most Macs. The exception is when a Touch Bar is present instead of Mac function keys; in that case, the Touch Bar controls the keyboard light.

If you have a Touch Bar, tap Show All and then tap the < icon to reveal the Increase Brightness button.

Here’s how to turn on the keyboard light on a Mac:

  1. Locate the Increase Brightness button.

    The Increase Brightness button on a MacBook keyboard.

    It looks like a rising sun icon with long light rays, and it’s placed on the F6 key or the Touch Bar.

  2. Press the Increase Brightness button.

    Pressing the Increase Button on a MacBook.
    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire
  3. If that isn’t bright enough, press the Increase Brightness button as much as necessary to achieve your desired level of brightness.

    Increasing the brightness of a MacBook keyboard light.
    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

What if a Mac Keyboard Light Won’t Turn On?

While Macs are designed to allow you to control your keyboard light with the Increase Brightness and Decrease Brightness keys on the keyboard, it may be disabled in system settings. If you aren’t able to turn on the keyboard light, you’ll need to check your system settings.

Here’s how to enable the keyboard light in macOS:

  1. Click the Apple icon, and select System Preferences.

    System Preferences highlighted in the Apple menu on macOS.
  2. Click Keyboard.

    Keyboard highlighted in the System Preferences menu on macOS.
  3. Check the Adjust keyboard light in low light box.

    Adjust keyboard brightness in low light checked in Mac keyboard settings.
  4. Check the Turn keyboard backlight off after x seconds box if you want the light to shut when you aren’t typing.

    Turn keyboard backlight off after 5 seconds highlighted in keyboard settings on Mac.
  5. If the keyboard light still doesn’t turn on, make sure the Use F1, F2, etc., keys as standard function box is not checked.

    Use F1, F2, etc highlighted in the Keyboard settings on Mac.

    If this box is checked, you need to push FN + Increase Brightness instead of just Increase Brightness to adjust the keyboard light.

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