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Fix Mac Keyboard Not Working With These Simple Steps

How to Fix Mac Keyboard Not Working With These Easy Steps

A keyboard is a crucial part of your Mac. There is not much you can do without it. So when your keyboard becomes unresponsive, or some keys stop working, you're only left with a few things you can do with the computer.

Fix Mac Keyboard Not Working With These Simple Steps

What Can Cause The Mac Keyboard to Stop Working?

When your keyboard becomes unresponsive, a few common issues might be the culprit.

A lot of the time, dust and debris accumulate under the keyboard keys. The small particles can prevent the keys from pressing, which doesn't allow the keys to register.

As a result of not cleaning your keyboard, the keys might stick to the keyboard or skip keystrokes and more.

Another reason can be the Slow Keys feature. If it's turned on, you might mistake your keyboard not working as it takes longer for your Mac to register the pressed keys.

The other problem can be related to your Mac software or hardware issues.

For example, there might be a minor glitch caused by an operating system update.

The cause can also be any external damage done to your Mac or the external Mac keyboard that would make it stop working.

How Can You Fix Mac Keyboard Not Working?

If you don't see severe external damage done to your keyboard, try the steps below to fix the keyboard before taking it for a repair or replacing it with a new one.

Table of Contents:

If The Mac Built-In Keyboard Isn't Working

If your Mac battery is running low and you can't see the alert, you might not be able to use the MacBook keyboard. Plug your Mac into a wall socket or connect an external keyboard. If the keyboard still doesn't work, proceed to the troubleshooting steps below.

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If The External Keyboard Isn't Working        

If your external keyboard stopped working, there are a few things that you can do to try and fix it.

First, check if Bluetooth is working.

1. Click on the Apple logo and go to "System Preferences".

Go to System Preferences

2. Then, go to "Bluetooth" settings.

Go to Bluetooth

3. Check if Bluetooth is turned on and if the keyboard is connected.

Check if keyboard is connected to Bluetooth

If the keyboard is connected with a cable, connect it to another USB port on your Mac. If the keyboard works when plugged into a different USB port, then the previous USB port is most likely damaged.

If possible, try to connect it to a different Mac and check if it starts working.  If it does, then the issue is with your Mac. If the keyboard works with the other Mac, proceed to the troubleshooting steps below.

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Restart Your Mac

If you keep your Mac in Sleep mode most of the time and rarely shut it down completely, you might run into system errors. To fix the issue, you need to simply restart the Mac to give the system a 'fresh start'.

This might be an obvious step, but if not tried it yet, we suggest you do. Sometimes all it takes is a system restart.

If the system reboot didn't help, proceed to the next step.

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Make Sure The Keyboard is Clean

For your keyboard to work, it needs to be cleaned from time to time as dust particles may accumulate and cause your keyboard to stop working.

If you tend to eat next to your Mac, it's inevitable for food crumbs to land on the keyboard and get into small cracks.

To clean an external or a built-in keyboard, follow the steps below:

1. Get a compressed air spray with a straw to limit the airflow.
2. If the keyboard is external, disconnect the keyboard from Bluetooth or unplug it from the port on your Mac.
If the keyboard is built-in, turn off your MacBook.
3. Tilt the keyboard so that the food crumbs and dust will fall out from the keyboard key cracks when spaying with air.
3. Now, take the compressed air spray and spray the air on the keyboard from left to right. Use it only on the right half of the keyboard.
4. Then, rotate the keyboard vertically and spray the air from left to right on the remaining half of the keyboard.
5. Repeat the process a few times.

If you're not sure how to do this or afraid you might damage the keyboard, take it to a professional to get it done.

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Update Mac Operating System

Updating macOS is one of the main steps in fixing issues with your keyboard. If the upgraded operating system is not entirely stable yet, various problems can arise. If there is a glitch or an error, check for macOS updates. If it's a system fault, Apple will have an update that'll fix the problem.

To check for an update, follow the steps below:

1. Click on the Apple logo from the menu bar.
2. Go to "System Preferences".

Go to System Preferences

3. Click on "Software Updates".

Go to Software Update

4. Wait for Mac to search for updates. If found any, update macOS by clicking on "Update Now".

Check for macOS updates

When Mac reboots, check if the keyboard works. If not, go to the next step.

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Reset Parameter Random Access Memory and System Management Controller

PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory) stores your Mac system settings.

SMC (System Management Controller) in your Mac is responsible for cooling fans, keyboard, and more processes.

Resetting both PRAM and SMC might help you fix the not working keyboard.

To reset PRAM, follow the steps below:

1. Shut down your Mac.
2. Then, press the Power button to turn on your Mac and immediately hold down Option + Command + P + R until Mac restarts.
On Macs with T2 Security Chip, hold the keys until you see the Apple logo appear.
On older Macs, hold the four keys until you hear the second chime.

To reset SMC go to our article on How to reset your Mac's SMC?

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Turn Off Slow Keys

With the Slow Keys feature, you can control how long you need to press a key for the Mac to recognize it. If Slow Keys is enabled, you might think the keyboard is not functioning correctly as you need to hold down the keys longer than usual for Mac to type process and recognize them.

To disable Slow Keys, follow the steps below:

1. Click on the Apple logo from the menu bar.
2. Go to "System Preferences".

Go to System Preferences

3. Then, go to "Accessibility" settings.

Go to Accessibility

4. Select "Keyboard".

Select Keyboard

5. In the "Hardware" tab, uncheck the box next to "Slow Keys".

Disable Slow Keys

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Delete Recent Apps

This might look unrelated, but sometimes, an app can cause a glitch that can affect the keyboard, especially if the app is new or upgraded to a more recent version and is not entirely stable. First, check what app might be causing trouble and then delete it.

To check and remove an app, follow the steps below:

1. Click on the Apple menu from the menu bar and select "About This Mac".

Click on About This Mac

2. Then, click on "System Report".

Click on System Report

3. In the sidebar, expand the "Software" option and select "Installations". You'll see all apps installed on your Mac with their installation and update date.

Select Installations

4. Then, open Finder.
5. Go to the "Applications" folder.
6. Find the app you think is the culprit, drag it to Trash or right-click on it, and select "Move to Trash".
7. Delete the app from the Trash.

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We hope this article was helpful and your keyboard is working perfectly.

You can also check out the video below for a step-by-step tutorial.

Video on How to Fix Mac Keyboard Not Working With These Easy Steps

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter to stay informed about the latest tech news or online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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