How to Remove Keyboard Keys

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Updated July 29, 2022

Even the best keyboards require care, whether it be intricate maintenance or electronic spring cleaning. One of the critical steps toward proper care is knowing how to remove keyboard keys correctly so you can clean them underneath them. If you want to learn, keep reading, and we’ll show you how.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Removing keycaps from your keyboard is necessary for deep cleanings and maintenance repairs.
  • The keycap removal method depends on whether you have a chiclet or raised desktop keyboard.
  • A chiclet keyboard requires you to gently pry off keys with a small tool, while you need to lift them off of a raised desktop keyboard with a keycap puller.

Once you’ve removed the keys, you may also want to read up on another maintenance task: how to lube your keyboard switches.

Insider Tip

Keep a can of compressed air handy to clean your keys whenever you get crumbs on your keyboard to reduce the frequency of needing to remove the keys.

How to Remove a Key from a Keyboard

Anyone can recklessly pry off a mechanical keyboard key. However, true experts understand the importance of doing this gracefully. Underneath a keycap is many vital components that can be easily broken if you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t worry, though! Just follow this step-by-step guide to removing the caps. Once you know how to do this, you can move on to more technical steps — like how to remove the switches from your keyboard.

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Time Required: 1 hour
  • Total Steps: 3-5 
  • Tools Needed: Key Removal Tool 

Chiclet-Style Keyboards

STEP 1

If you’re working with a laptop keyboard, completely power your computer off. If you are working with a wireless or external keyboard, unplug the USB cable or power it off.

STEP 2

Press down on the top of the mechanical keyboard key with one finger. At the bottom, slide under your key removal tool. Although you can purchase a special keycap puller, you can also use a flathead screwdriver or a butter knife for the job.

STEP 3

Push down with your tool to create leverage while pressing down with your finger until you hear a slight popping noise. This noise is the clips becoming undone.

STEP 4

Remove the cap and put it to the side for cleaning, making sure not to lose them.

STEP 5

Repeat this process for each key you need to remove.

Desktop Keyboards

STEP 1

Unplug your wired desktop keyboard.

STEP 2

Place the keycap puller over the key and wiggle it off to remove the keycap. Depending on the keyboard, a clip might hold it in place. You can make a keycap puller from a paperclip (instructions in the FAQs).

Warning

Larger keys, like the spacebar and shift key, have small support bars and wires underneath that can come undone when the cap is removed. Be extra careful when removing these because more parts mean more can go wrong.

STEP 3

Repeat this process until every keycap is successfully removed.

STAT: A mechanical keyboard switch, on average, lasts around 10-15 years. (source)

How to Remove Keyboard Keys FAQs

Why should I know how to remove keyboard keycaps?

Removing keyboard caps is necessary to maintain your keyboard. For example, if you spill a drink on your keyboard, you must remove the caps to clean the keyboard switches underneath.

Can I make a DIY keycap puller?

A homemade keycap puller can be made out of a household paperclip. All you need to do is bend the clip to make a "U" shape, then bend both ends so that they poke inwards.

What is the best substance I can use to clean my keyboard switches?

Ninety-nine percent isopropyl alcohol is the recommended kind for cleaning switches. However, many users claim that anything over 60% gets the job done.
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