How to Fix a Key that Fell Off a Laptop Keyboard – A Complete Guide

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It is a pain when a laptop key falls off and now, no more smooth typing. It’s bit of a shock, isn’t it? Also, it makes the whole user experience burdensome. Often it takes more than a simple trick to fix a key that fell off a laptop keyboard.

Turn off your laptop and remove any plugs. First, check the orientation of the key that fell off and place the plastic retainer over the rubber knob. Then, place the keycap over the plastic retainer and push it. A snap sound will show that the key is fixed. Yet, different laptop keyboards have different parts that are assembled slightly differently.

Whether you are a Windows or a MacBook user, you may come across a faulty or fallen-off key once. Do not panic because laptop keys are easy to fix in most cases. Yet, understanding keyboard hardware is a crucial step toward it.

Different Parts of a Laptop Keyboard

The hardware of a laptop keyboard has three major parts that assemble to give that satisfying click sound. It consists of a keycap, a key retainer, and a keypad or a rubber knob. MacBook doesn’t have a rubber keypad, while all other laptop brands still use a silicon nub as the pith that connects the key to the keyboard circuit.

Key Cap

It is a metal or plastic cap that you press and has an alphabet or numbers written over it. This is easy to put back on with a gentle push. 

Key Retainer

A key retainer is two plastic clips that are nested together. It keeps the keycap in place and helps divide equal pressure to the key. If the key is wobbly or not pressing right, it may have a faulty key retainer.

Key Pad

The keypad is the one underneath the plastic retainer. It is usually a silicone knob that can be pressed easily. This is where the laptop gets the signal for a keystroke.

Clean the key before starting any repair. If all these parts are in place, you can assemble them to get the key working. However, if one or two are damaged beyond repair, then it’s time to replace the key with a new one.

How to Fix a Key that Fell Off a Laptop – 5 Simple Steps

It is easy to fix a key that fell off a laptop with minimal tools and a little guidance. So, take a deep breath and follow the simple steps to get your keyboard back to work.

Inspect Damage

Check for all the three key parts, and see what is missing. Look for the pieces that have fallen off i.e. keycap, key retainer, keypad (rubber knob).  Also, see if the key components are intact or if you need to replace them. The plastic bracket or retainer can be detached or attached to the key.

Detached or Fallen Keycap

If only the keycap (plastic or metal) has fallen then you can put it back on in the right spot and push it down. The keycap has a small lock that points at the orientation of the key. However, if the keycap is damaged or chipped, it may need to be replaced.

Loose Key Retainer

The plastic retainer gives the key an effortless click, and it’s a little tricky to put back on. Carefully remove a keycap of any other key with a flathead screwdriver and see how to retainer is placed. Check the joints and the orientation of the retainers. Most retainers are connected at four different points. 

If the key retainer has fallen off intact, then you can place it over the keypad as it is. In contrast, if it is two parts are detached then join them first to form a mesh. 

Damaged Key Pad

A keypad delivers the keystrokes to the circuit. If the keypad is damaged, then remove it gently, clean it and insert it after the key retainer The metal hook on the base of the keyboard (in bigger keys) tells the orientation.

You can use DW-40 in a limited amount around the knob to repair it. Another fix can be using a straw cutting to be placed over it, for better keystroke.

If the knob is damaged, then you need to remove the small rubber knob carefully. It is connected with glue, so use something sharp to cut it. Clean the area underneath, and place it again using strong glue. This should be the last resort and it is better performed by a professional.

Lost/Damaged KeyCap or Retainer

If any of the key parts (keycap or key retainer) is damaged, then it is time to buy new. You can order new individual keys or only key parts online. On the flip side, if the keyboard circuit is damaged, then the whole panel is replaced.

How to Fix a Detached Spacebar Key

The spacebar key is the largest of any keys on the keyboard. It has a metal wire that runs through it and helps in registering the keystroke. The metal wire in the spacebar is important because it is only attached at one pressure point. Without a metal bar, it can be wobbly.

So, the only difference in any other key and spacebar on the laptop keyboard is the metal wire. Before pushing the keycap downward, remove the bar beneath it with a screwdriver and pull it upward. Push it gently until you hear a click, and the spacebar is fixed.

How to Reattach Enter Key

Enter key is much like the spacebar, but with only one retainer. It also has a metal wire that keeps the key balanced. If the enter key has stopped working, reinstall or update your keyboard driver. 

For Windows

  1. Search Device Manager in the taskbar, and click on “Device Manager”.
  2. Select the Keyboard category and right-click on it.
  3. Select Search Automatically for updated driver software.
  4. Select update driver

For MacBook

  1. Click on the Apple in the upper left corner.
  2. Select “System Preferences”  from the menu.
  3. Select “Software Update”. 
  4. If there will be any updates required, they will be listed here, or you will be told your software is updated.

If the enter key still doesn’t work, then remove the keycap with a flat-head screwdriver and put it back on after cleaning the key. Hopefully, the key will start working. 

What if the Key Still Doesn’t Work?

If the key is still not working then it may have a faulty keypad knob. Remove the keycap. Take a staw and cut it to the size of a knob. Fix it gently over the retainer and replace the keycap. Adjust the size of the straw if needed, and push the keycap until you hear a click.

After all the hacks you have tried, if the key is still not working properly, then it is a keyboard circuit problem. This hardware issue can only be resolved by buying a new keyboard panel and replacing it. It is recommended to avoid DIY panel change.

What if the Keyboard keeps Typing on its Own

So, your key is fixed but it has faulty action. It is as much annoying and hinders the workflow.

Situation 1: Laptop Key Types Different Alphabet or Numbers

In this case, it is a software issue that tells the key which command to perform. It can be solved by updating or re-installing the keyboard driver. However, if the problem persists, then you can use the software KeyTweak to alter the keyboard. It helps to turn a key off or on or to assign a different command to a different key, as a quick fix.

Situation 2: Laptop Key Types Automatically

Sometimes it is hard to figure out a stuck or a sticky key. In my case, it was a stuck spacebar that took me a while to notice. First, check the keyboard keys with a Key Test to make sure which key is faulty.

Either the key wasn’t fixed or it was a hardware issue caused by overheating. You can try a quick fix using KeyTweak and later take it to a professional for deeper inspection.

Note

In any case, do not use glue on the laptop as it can cause hardware and software to malfunction in the long run. If it is necessary, then it is better to take the help of a professional. However, DW-40 can be used in limited quantities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. How to replace a key on the laptop keyboard?

    You can replace a key by knowing the exact version and device specifications of your laptop. For Windows: Click on This PC, then Computer, then System Properties. Here, select Device Specifications and know the make of your laptop keyboard. In the case of the MacBook, go to “Apple Menu” and click on About This Mac and then check the Version. Different buyers sell individual keys on eBay and other platforms.

  2. Do I need to buy a new keyboard if one key is faulty?

    No, you don’t need to buy a new keyboard if one key is faulty. Try putting the fallen off keys back on the keyboard. If the key still doesn’t work, then you can buy an individual key from online sellers. If it is a circuit/software problem, then you will need to buy a new keyboard, otherwise not.

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