What Is a Backlit Keyboard?

Nathan Rizzuti Profile image

Written by:

Updated July 29, 2022

If you’ve tried to type in a dimly lit or darkened room, you understand the need for solid lighting. As a result of this need, a common feature of many of the best keyboards is a good backlight. To explain what is a backlit keyboard and why they’re important, we’ll expand on the different types and what they mean concerning your needs.


  • The keyboard backlight is essential for anyone who needs to type or game in a dark or dim environment.
  • Most keyboards come with a traditional white LED backlight controlled through a computer’s general settings.
  • RGB backlit keyboards are popular among gamers because they are highly customizable.

For any keyboard users whose currently experiencing issues, we have a wide range of articles that explain common problems, such as what is keyboard ghosting. For those with backlight issues, we also have one that explains the primary reasons why a keyboard isn’t lighting up.

What Is Keyboard Backlighting?

A keyboard backlight is a series of lights that illuminate your keypad when typing. They have been included as a feature on mechanical and membrane keyboards for a long time. But to this day, it remains a technology that continues to evolve.

Insider Tip

Disable the keyboard backlight if you need to preserve your computer’s battery life.

Traditional Backlit Keyboards

For many built-in or standard standalone keyboards with PCs and Macs, the light source consists of a handful of small LED lights that switch on whenever a key is pressed.

Depending on the model, you might be able to control the brightness levels. And on others, you may only get one brightness setting. The traditional backlight is excellent for those who need to work in dark environments, on planes, or on public transport.

However, the standard keyboard backlight has evolved recently to include multicolor and RGB technology.

Multicolor Backlit Keyboards

These models take keyboard illumination to the next level by increasing the number of lights and colors behind the keys. They also come with presets to change the patterns of how the lights flicker and glow.

RGB Keyboards

RGB keyboards feature a multicolor light behind each key. They often come with highly customizable software systems which allow users to tailor each key and its effects precisely as they see fit.


Don’t assume that a new laptop automatically comes with internal lighting. While many do, this is a spec you should verify before purchasing.

RGBs are often seen as the best-backlit keyboards for gamers because the lights are programmable in highly technical ways. For example, they can alert users if there’s a poor wireless connection or the computer is at risk of overheating. If you want to learn more about RGB technology, you can check out our article that explains in depth what an RGB keyboard is.

STAT: The best RGB keyboards have lights that allow users to choose over 16 million different backlight colors. (source)

What Is a Backlit Keyboard FAQs

Is it possible to install a keyboard backlight?

While nothing’s impossible, installing a keyboard backlight is a highly technical and time-consuming task. And ultimately, it would likely be worth your while to buy one with a backlight instead.

Do backlit keyboards help with gaming?

Depending on what style you get, yes, but it varies. For example, traditional backlights and multicolor keyboards help only for gaming in dark environments. An RGB gaming keyboard, however, can help optimize the gaming experience through its highly customizable programming.

How do I disable a keyboard backlighting?

Each computer type (PC or Apple) will have a different shortcut for disablement. The surest way to do this is to go into your computer’s settings and find the keyboard control panel.
Nathan Rizzuti Profile image