How to Unlock a Keyboard

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Updated July 22, 2022

Many of the best keyboards can lock up, whether it be a software, hardware, or settings issue. This makes knowing how to unlock a keyboard a valuable skill that can save you a lot of time. So, below, we’re providing a handful of common keyboard unlocking solutions that work across many popular computer models.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Keyboards become locked for many reasons, and solutions depend on the keyboard brand and the nature of the issue.
  • Users can update/reinstall the default keyboard drivers or disable the sticky/filter key function as common solutions for software fixes.
  • For wireless keyboard owners, check the connections, batteries, and signal range.

And if you are trying to get more familiar with your keyboard, we have a reservoir of great resources to look through. Such as our guide on how to update your keyboard driver or how to reset a Mac keyboard.

How Do I Unlock a Keyboard?

If you have been trying to unlock your keyboard with little luck, you aren’t alone. It’s a frustrating thing to deal with but something that’s typically solved with great ease. However, unlike knowing how to reattach a keyboard key, there are many potential paths to a solution. So, let’s run through the most common troubleshooting measures.

And once you’re done, if you found this article helpful, check out some of our other troubleshooting articles, such as why a keyboard beeps when typing.

Update Drivers

Many times, a keyboard becomes locked because it has an outdated driver. However, updating device drivers for both Windows and Apple computers is an easy fix.

For Windows, press “Windows +R.” Then, in the search bar that appears, type “devmgmt.msc.” After pressing “OK,” locate the keyboard section and open the dropdown. Select the keyboard you are using, and press the menu tab that says “Drivers.” Finally, check to see if there are any updates. If there are, install them and restart your computer.

For Apple computers, press the Apple icon in the top left corner. Then press “System Preferences.” Next, press the keyboard icon and press the box that says “Modifier Keys.” Once in, find the option to update the driver, and perform any needed updates.

Remember that, sometimes, even if there are no driver updates, uninstalling and reinstalling the default driver can unlock your keyboard.

Wireless Keyboards

Wireless keyboards come with additional issues and solutions for keyboard locking. The first thing to do is check that the USB dongle is inserted fully into the USB port. Then check to ensure that the keyboard is powered on, that the batteries are fresh or fully charged, and that you aren’t out of range.

Warning

Updating or reinstalling your keyboard driver can eliminate any customized shortcuts or settings.

Turn Off Filter and Sticky Key Functions

For Windows units, sticky and filter keys can sometimes cause a keyboard lockdown. To turn this off, go to the Windows settings menu. Then click on “Accessibility.” Next, scroll down to the bottom and select “Keyboard.” From there, you can switch off the sticky and filter key options.

STAT: The filter key function can be turned on/off by holding the shift key down for 8 seconds. (source)

How to Unlock a Keyboard FAQs

How do I know when it's time to replace my keyboard?

If you've done extensive troubleshooting and nothing seems to work, or if there's clear evidence of physical damage, it may be time to find a replacement keyboard.

What is it that makes a keyboard become locked?

A locked keyboard is caused by anything from unwittingly pressing the wrong key combo to malfunctioning software or physical blockage.

What is the sticky key function?

The sticky key function allows users to press one key at a time when performing key combos. For example, to interrupt an operation with sticky keys, a user can press CTRL + ALT + DELETE one after the other instead of being required to push them all at once.
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