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Mac Keyboard Not Working? Try These 10 Fixes

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Last updated: September 3, 2023

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Are you facing the frustrating situation of your Mac keyboard not working? A malfunctioning keyboard can disrupt your productivity and leave you feeling stuck.

But you don’t have to let a stubborn keyboard hinder your productivity. In this comprehensive guide, I’ve compiled some tried-and-tested fixes to help you overcome this issue. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to revive your Mac keyboard.

Before We Begin

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Common Causes of a Mac Keyboard Not Working

Before I dive into the solutions, let’s first identify some of the common causes of a non-responsive Mac keyboard:

  • 👉 Dirty or Sticky Keys: One of the most common causes of keyboard issues is dirty or sticky keys. Try cleaning your keyboard to fix the problem.
  • 🔋 A Low Battery or Battery Drain: Check the battery level using a wireless keyboard. A low battery or battery drain can cause keyboard issues. Replace the batteries or charge the keyboard to fix the problem.
  • 🐛 Software Glitches or Bugs: Software glitches or bugs can cause keyboard issues. Try restarting your computer or updating your software to fix the problem.
  • 🔄 Outdated Software or Drivers: Outdated software or drivers can cause keyboard issues. Check for updates for your operating system and keyboard driver software to fix the problem.
  • 🔌 Loose Connection or Unplugged Keyboard: If you’re using a wired keyboard, ensure the keyboard is properly plugged in. A loose connection or unplugged keyboard can cause keyboard issues.
  • 💥 Physical Damage to the Keyboard or Cable: Physical damage to the keyboard or cable can also cause keyboard issues. Check for visible damage and consider replacing the keyboard or cable if necessary.

10 Methods to Fix Mac Keyboard Not Working

The solution to fix the Mac keyboard not working depends on the cause. You should look for what is causing the issue. I have mentioned some above. For example, if the keyboard battery is the issue, change it. Once you know the problem, choose the fix from the following methods.

1. Change the Keyboard Battery

If you’re using a wireless keyboard with your Mac, you may occasionally encounter problems with the keyboard’s battery life. Here are some troubleshooting steps to help you check the battery and get your keyboard working again:

  1. Check the light indicator. If the battery indicator light is on, it’s time to replace the batteries.
  2. Turn off the keyboard.
  3. Locate the battery compartment cover on the bottom of the keyboard.
  4. Use a coin or a flathead screwdriver to turn the cover counterclockwise until it pops off.
  5. Remove the old batteries and dispose of them properly. Insert fresh batteries according to the polarity indicated inside the battery compartment.
  6. Replace the battery compartment cover and turn it clockwise to secure it in place.
  7. Turn on the keyboard and check that it’s working properly.

2. Recharge the Batteries

If your keyboard has a rechargeable battery, you can recharge it using a USB cable or docking station provided by the manufacturer.

Here’s how to recharge the batteries of a keyboard:

  1. Connect the USB cable or docking station to the keyboard and your Mac.
  2. Make sure the keyboard is turned off.
  3. Wait for the battery to charge fully.
  4. Disconnect the USB cable or remove the keyboard from the docking station.
  5. Turn on the keyboard and check that it’s working correctly.

3. Clean Your Keyboard

Over time, dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate under the keys, causing them to stick or malfunction. Here’s how to clean your Mac keyboard:

  1. Before cleaning your keyboard, turn off your Mac to prevent any accidental keystrokes or damage to your system.
  2. Turn your keyboard upside down and shake it to remove any loose debris or crumbs. Use a can of compressed air to blow away any remaining residue between the keys.
  3. If compressed air isn’t enough, use a soft-bristled brush to sweep any remaining debris from the keyboard gently. Be careful not to press too hard on the keys or brush too vigorously, as this could damage your keyboard.
  4. Use a gentle cleaning solution if your keyboard is dirty or sticky. Be sure to use a cleaning solution that’s safe for electronics and won’t damage your keyboard. Gently wipe keys and keyboard surfaces. Avoid getting any liquid into the keyboard.
  5. After cleaning, use a dry cloth to wipe down the keys and keyboard surface. Allow the keyboard to air dries completely before turning your Mac back on.

4. Restart Your Mac

Sometimes, a simple restart can fix software issues that may be causing the keyboard to malfunction. It resolves the stuck drivers or any connection problems. You can restart your Mac in just a few seconds by following these steps:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Select Restart from the drop-down menu.
click apple icon and select restart
  1. A pop-up window will appear, asking you to confirm that you want to restart your Mac.
  2. Click the Restart button in the pop-up window.
click restart on the confirmation pop up
  1. Your Mac will begin restarting, which may take a few seconds.
  2. Once the restart is complete, your Mac will automatically log you back in, and all your previously opened applications will reopen.

5. Update Your macOS

Updating your software is an essential step in maintaining the health and performance of your Mac. It ensures that you have the latest drivers for hardware and bug fixes.

Here’s how to update macOS on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen and select System Settings from the drop-down menu.
click apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click General and select Software Update.
click general and select software update
  1. Your Mac will now check for available updates. If any updates are found, click the Update Now button to download and install them.
click update now in software update
  1. If prompted, enter your administrator username and password.
  2. Wait for the updates to download and install. Depending on the update size and your internet connection speed, it may take some time.
  3. Once the updates are installed, restart your Mac if necessary.

6. Reset Keyboard Settings

Resetting the keyboard settings on your Mac can potentially fix keyboard-related issues if they are caused by software misconfigurations or conflicts. By resetting the keyboard settings, you can reset any customizations or configurations causing the problem which fixes the keyboard issue.

Here’s how to reset the keyboard settings on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Keyboard and tap the Keyboard Shortcuts button.
click keyboard and select keyboard shortcuts
  1. Click the Modifier Keys button in the bottom-right corner.
  2. In the new window, click Restore Defaults to reset the keyboard settings to their default values.
click modifier key and select restore defaults
  1. Close the window and try using your keyboard again.

7. Reset the SMC

The SMC controls several important functions of your Mac, such as power management, thermal management, and keyboard response. Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) on a Mac can sometimes help resolve various hardware-related issues, including problems with the keyboard.

Here’s how to reset the SMC on Mac:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Connect your Mac to a power source.
  3. Press and hold the Shift ⇧ + Control ^ + Option ⌥ keys and the Power button simultaneously.
macbook air ctrl shift option key 1
  1. Release all the keys and the Power button at the same time.
  2. Press the Power button to turn on your Mac.

8. Reset the PRAM

Resetting the Parameter RAM (PRAM) on a Mac can resolve certain hardware and system-related issues, including problems with the keyboard.

The PRAM stores various settings related to your Mac’s hardware and system configurations. Resetting the PRAM can clear any corrupt or conflicting settings causing the keyboard not to work properly.

Here’s how to reset the PRAM on your Mac:

  1. Shut down your Mac completely.
  2. Press the Power button to turn it back on.
macbook air touch id
  1. Immediately press and hold the Command ⌘ + Option ⌥ + P + R keys on your keyboard.
macbook air option command p r keys 4
  1. Keep holding the keys until you hear the startup sound twice or see the Apple logo appear and disappear twice.
  2. Release the keys and let your Mac continue to start up normally.

9. Check for Physical Damage 

Inspect the keyboard and cable for any signs of physical damage. If the cord is damaged, replace it. If the keyboard is damaged, you may need to get it repaired or replaced. To check for physical damage on your keyboard, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your Mac and unplug the keyboard from the computer.
  2. Inspect the keyboard for visible physical damage, such as cracks, dents, or loose keys.
  3. If you notice any damage, carefully try to fix it yourself if it’s a loose key or seeks professional assistance if a crack or dent requires repair.
  4. Plug the keyboard back into your Mac and turn it on to test if the physical damage has affected its functionality.

10. Uninstall Unused Apps

Uninstall apps on your Mac, as they can cause the malfunction of the keyboard. It can be tedious, especially if you have many applications installed.

Follow these steps to uninstall apps using MacKeeper:

  1. Download and install MacKeeper on your Mac.
  1. After installation, launch MacKeeper and click the Smart Uninstaller in the left-hand menu.
click smart uninstaller in the left sidebar 2
  1. Click Start Scan.
click start scan in smart uninstaller 1
  1. Select the applications you want to delete from the list and click Remove Selected.
select the applications you want to remove and click remove selected
  1. Tap the Remove button on the pop-up to confirm the deletion.
click remove on the pop up window in smart uninstaller 2
  1. MacKeeper will uninstall the apps and remove associated files and folders. You will get a Removal Completed notification. If you want to scan your Mac again, click Rescan.
click rescan in smart uninstaller 3

What Else Can MacKeeper Do?

Besides uninstalling apps on Mac, MacKeeper can delete junk files, remove duplicates, and stop pesky ads. Check out my detailed MacKeeper review to know more about its features. 

Final Thoughts

Once you have resolved your keyboard issues, it is time to optimize your Mac’s overall performance. The following tips will help you avoid any problems in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is my Mac keyboard not working after a software update?

    Sometimes a software update can cause conflicts or compatibility issues with keyboard drivers or settings. To fix this, try resetting the SMC or PRAM, updating your software again, or contacting Apple support for assistance.

  2. How do I fix a stuck or unresponsive key on my Mac keyboard?

    First, try cleaning the keyboard with compressed air or a soft-bristled brush to remove any debris or dirt under the keys. If that doesn’t work, gently press the stuck key several times to see if it becomes unstuck. If the problem persists, you may need to replace the key or the entire keyboard.

  3. Can I use an external keyboard to troubleshoot issues with my built-in keyboard?

    Yes, an external keyboard can help you determine if the issue is with the built-in keyboard or the software/drivers. If the external keyboard works fine, it’s likely a hardware issue with your built-in keyboard. If the external keyboard also has problems, it may be a software or driver issue.

  4. Why does my wireless keyboard keep disconnecting from my Mac?

    There could be various reasons, such as a low battery, interference from other wireless devices, or a software/driver issue. Try replacing the batteries, moving them closer to the computer, or resetting the SMC or PRAM. If the issue persists, contact Apple support for further assistance.

  5. Can I replace a single key on a Mac keyboard, or must I replace the entire keyboard?

    Replacing a single key on a Mac keyboard is possible, but it can be challenging and requires special tools. If you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, it’s best to take it to an authorized repair center or contact Apple support for assistance. Replacing the entire keyboard may be more cost-effective.

Pawan Singh

Author

Pawan is your go-to tech buddy with over 4 years diving deep into the world of Macbooks and cool gadgets. He's written a ton of articles, blending his tech-savvy expertise with a dash of friendly banter. When it comes to the latest in tech, Pawan's got the scoop and isn't shy to share it. Trust him, he's been around the block a few times!

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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