The keyboard is probably the area of a laptop that you interact with most, making it incredibly frustrating when something goes wrong.
If your keyboard is extremely slow to respond, or one or more keys have stopped working altogether, this is the article for you.
Step 1: Find the cause of the issue
Working out whether it's your computer's hardware or software that's causing the issue is crucial to finding a solution.
The best way to do this is by entering the BIOS (or UEFI) on your device. Most Windows devices offer a keyboard shortcut to get there, often involving the 'Delete' and 'Esc' keys. The exact combination varies by manufacturer, so it's worth looking it up unless you are willing to go through trial and error.
If you're able to access the BIOS without any issue, it's likely to be a software-based issue, and the following tips should help. That's because the BIOS is separate from the rest of the operating system, so wouldn't be subject to the same issues as Windows 10.
Just make sure to exit without saving before proceeding to the next steps.
If you need to access the BIOS for any other reason, but don't have access to the keyboard, there is another way. Head to Settings > Update & security > Recovery and click 'Restart now' under the 'Advanced startup' sub-heading.
When your device boots up again, you'll be presented with a menu that looks different to what you'd normally see. From here, click Advanced options > UEFI Firmware Settings > Restart.
Related: How to update your BIOS
Step 2: Reboot your PC
Yes, the classic 'turn your computer off and on again' can be effective at solving software-based keyboard issues.
If you followed Step 1 you'll have already done this, but there's no harm in trying a separate standard restart.
If you didn't know already, the easiest way to access this is by opening the Start Menu, clicking the power icon (above the Windows logo) and choosing 'Restart'.
Step 3: Update or reinstall keyboard drivers
Drivers are pieces of software that allow specific hardware to communicate with your computer properly.
Assuming you're using the keyboard built-in to your laptop, these are usually updated automatically, but things can go wrong from time to time. Here's how to update or uninstall the drivers.
- Open Device Manager, by searching in the taskbar and clicking the first option. You should now see a list of all the devices connected to your laptop
- Expand the 'Keyboards' section and look for a device named 'HID Keyboard Device' or similar
- Right-click and choose 'Update driver' and it will check to make sure you have the latest version
- From the same menu, you can also 'Uninstall device'. Don't worry, simply reboot your laptop after confirming and the drivers will be automatically re-installed
Step 4: Change keyboard settings
Some settings on your keyboard are helpful most of the time, but can cause problems if they malfunction. Here's how to turn them off:
- Type 'Control Panel' into the search bar in the taskbar and choose the first option
- In the window that opens, search for 'keyboard' in the top left corner and hit enter
- Click the first option, where you can adjust character repeat and blink rate
Filter keys can also cause problems:
- Open Settings > Ease of Access and choose 'Keyboard' by scrolling down on the left pane
- Scroll down until you see an option for 'Filter Keys'
- If this is turned on, click the toggle to turn it off and hit OK to confirm
Your keyboard layout may also be causing problems, so it's worth making sure it's set up correctly:
- Open Settings > Time & Language and navigate to the 'Language' tab on the left of the window
- Under the 'Preferred languages' sub-heading, click the area indicated in red below and choose 'Options'
- Make sure it is set to your preferred language and that the regular QWERTY layout is selected.
Step 5: Thoroughly clean the keyboard
The majority of people regularly eat when using a laptop at home, making it easy for crumbs and other pieces of food to become lodged between keys. Here are the steps you'll need to take:
- Ensure your laptop is fully switched off
- Turn the device upside down and give it a good shake, which might be enough to dislodge some of the more obvious debris
- Get a can of compressed air (there are plenty of options on Amazon) and between the keys a quick clean
- If you suspect there is some spillage or issue directly under the key cap, you should be able to remove and replace these without too much hassle
Step 6: Consult physical tech support
If all else fails, sorting out the problems with your keyboard may the job of a professional.
Currys PC World offers an excellent repair service, with prices starting at £60 + parts. However, it's currently unavailable due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That means you'll have to look elsewhere if your problem is urgent. Some local services will be starting up again, while you can also post your laptop to be repaired. SimplyFixIt is a great option, while many of the top laptop manufacturers offer postal repair services.
There you have it! Hopefully these solutions have gone some way to fixing your frustrating keyboard issues.
We also have a guide to how to fix a stuck laptop cursor.