How to Remove the Switches From Your Keyboard

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Updated July 29, 2022

Whether you have the best keyboard on the market or a budget model, keyboards are intricate devices made of a network of delicate parts. Mechanical switches are sensors that allow you to interface with your computer, making them a critical keyboard component. As with all sensitive parts, they sometimes fail, leaving you to figure out how to remove the switches from your keyboard without damaging them so that you can replace them.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Keyboard switches are fastened in two ways: hot-swappable connectors and soldering.
  • Hot-swappable keyboard switches can be pulled out with a unique tool and are incredibly easy to remove and replace.
  • Unsoldering keyboard switches require a soldering iron and know-how of working with solder and the delicate circuit board.

If this sounds like you, keep reading as we walk you through how to remove a mechanical keyboard switch. And because there are multiple steps to this process, some of which are beyond the scope of this article, check out our other articles if you need additional resources. For example, we have a great info guide on how to remove keyboard keys.

Insider Tip

When working with soldering and solder, locate yourself in a well-ventilated area and wear eye and hand protection.

How to Remove Mechanical Keyboard Switches

There are two ways to remove a switch on a mechanical keyboard. The first way is through what’s called “hot-swappable keyboard switches.” These switches are designed for easy removal and replacement if you have the right tools.

The second way is through soldering. If you don’t know how to solder a keyboard, you’d be wise to study and practice before getting started. Soldering is a task that requires skill, and making a mistake can permanently ruin a keyboard’s circuits.

After consulting your keyboard’s user manual to determine if your switch types are hot-swappable or soldered, you can begin going through the steps in the correct guide below.

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Time Required: 1 hour
  • Total Steps: 3-5 
  • Tools Needed: Screwdriver, Switch Puller, Keycap Puller, Soldering Iron, Solder Sucker

Hot-Swappable Switches

STEP 1

Place the keycap puller over the key and remove each keycap for the switches you are replacing.

STEP 2

Place the switch puller over the top and bottom edges of the switch. Then, gently wiggle each hot-swappable switch out of place while pulling up on them.

STEP 3

Repeat the previous steps until each switch is removed.

Soldered Key Switches

STEP 1

Unscrew and remove the housing of your keyboard until you can access the circuit board.

STEP 2

Heat the soldering iron to around 350 degrees.

STEP 3

Locate the correct switch pins and touch your heated soldering iron to them for a few seconds each. As the solder from the switch pins becomes liquid, remove it with the solder sucker.

STEP 4

Once you see that you’ve removed most of the solder, remove the switch and set it aside.

Warning

Don’t attempt to pull out your mechanical keyboard switches until you are 100% that they are hot-swappable; otherwise, this mistake can cause irreparable damage.

STEP 5

Repeat steps 1-4 until each switch is removed, making sure to keep your soldering iron clean throughout the process.

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

How to Remove Switches From a Keyboard FAQs

What are the benefits of a soldered keyboard switch?

Soldered switches are often more secure and jiggle less than hot-swappable models.

Why should I lubricate my keyboard switches?

People lubricate mechanical switches because it enhances the key's clicking noise and can create a smoother key motion.

What is a linear switch?

A linear switch presses down in a smooth, fluid motion. Linear switches are quicker to push down and activate because they don't have a part in them that causes resistance.
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