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Typing on keyboard

What to do if a key comes off your keyboard

Typing on keyboard

What to do if a key comes off your keyboard

If you’ve even been typing and found yourself lost at C, missing U or not quite fitting to a T, you’ve probably encountered the common problem of a key going missing from your keyboard.

This might happen if you drop your keyboard, or if it gets bashed about in a laptop bag. Alternatively, it could simply be a consequence of heavy use.

An inventive way to get around it could be to do what Ernest Vincent Wright did in 1939, when he wrote a 50,000 novel, ‘Gadsby’, without using the letter E. A better solution is to get it fixed though, and it’s relatively simple to do in most cases.

How to replace a key on a traditional keyboard

As long as the key and the fitting it goes into are intact, this should just be a case of pressing it back in firmly. You should hear a snap, which means it’s back in place.

How to replace a key on a laptop

The keys on a laptop tend to be slimmer and less chunky than those on a traditional (sometimes called “mechanical”) keyboard, but the method for reattaching a dislodged key remains roughly the same – push it back in and wait for the snap. You might also need to check the retainer on the back of the key though, which is a small piece of plastic. If this has moved out of place, try to carefully reattach it. If you need to see how it should fit in, you could remove another key from your keyboard to look at as a reference – we’ll explain how to do this shortly.

What if I’ve lost the key?

You can buy single replacement keys online. If you search a site like eBay for the key and model of keyboard you’re looking for, you should find plenty of options. However, you might need to use the keyboard right now and not have time to wait for your new key to arrive, so here’s a short-term workaround.

Think about the keys on a keyboard you never use. What about those ones on the number pad on the right? Although they have uses, they’re only really a duplication of the numbers along the top row of your keyboard. You no doubt use these far less often than the letters of the alphabet, if indeed you use them at all.

After checking that the key you’ve decided to remove is the same shape as the one you want to replace, use a bent paperclip as a tool to get underneath the key. With gentle upward pressure, you should be able to pry the key out and then lift it with your fingers. The important word here is “gentle” – don’t yank it or you might damage the key or send it flying across the room, potentially leaving you another key down. You should be able to push the replacement key into its new home in the same way as described about.

With a bit of luck, this is a key learning that will help you revert to type in no time at all!

John Murray

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