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How to fix MacBook keys that aren't working

MacBook keys that aren't working correctly

If the keys on your MacBook®, MacBook Air®, or MacBook Pro® are sticking, repeating, or not working at all, it can slow you down or even bring you to a full stop. The good news: There's usually a simple solution.

Here at Asurion, we help you get the most out of your tech—whether you want to transfer contacts to your new iPhone or find a lost or stolen laptop. Here's our guide to why your MacBook keys may not be working and how to fix them.

Why won't your MacBook keys work?

There are several common reasons some—or all—of your MacBook keys may be on the fritz. They include:

  • The keys are dirty or damaged.
  • You need to update your software.
  • There's an app issue.
  • The Slow Keys setting is turned on.
  • The keyboard is faulty or damaged.

Here are a few easy ways to troubleshoot which issue is behind your faulty keyboard and solve the problem.

Clean your MacBook keyboard

From grimy fingerprints to dust, spills, and pet hair, your keyboard can get downright filthy. A simple cleanup may solve your keyboard issuesfollow these steps:

  1. Turn off and unplug your MacBook. You don't want to risk moisture getting into your computer and causing it to short out, and you'll also avoid sending an errant email while you're wiping down the keys.
  2. Flip your MacBook upside down and gently shake it. This should dislodge any large crumbs or dust on your keyboard. To make cleanup easier, it's smart to do this over a towel or a garbage can.
  3. Use a soft brush or compressed air to clean out loose debris. Use a soft paintbrush to wipe the dust from the tops and edges of each key. It's best to do this while the keyboard is still upside down to avoid pushing dirt further into any crevices. If you have a compressed air can, you can also use that to blow out anything stuck in the keys. Spray the air in a zigzag pattern across the keyboard, then rotate it and repeat the process until you've done all four sides of the keys. Warning: don't spray the air directly under the keys, as that could cause damage.

A thorough deep-cleaning of your laptop can also help it to work as it shouldreach out to an experienced MacBook cleaning pro for help.

Check for missed software updates

Regular software updates may be the answer to why your MacBook keys aren't working. Here's how to check for updates you may have missed:

  1. Click the Apple® icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Click System Preferences > Software Update.
  3. Click Upgrade Now to install any desired updates.

To make sure your computer automatically stays updated, check the box for Automatically keep my Mac up to date at the bottom of the menu.

Remove faulty applications

Third-party apps sometimes cause problems with your MacBook keys. If you noticed keyboard issues after recently downloading a new application, try deleting it to see if your keys start working again.

  1. Open Launchpad from your bottom menu.
  2. Click and hold the app you want to delete.
  3. All your apps will jiggle and an “X" will appear on apps that can be deleted.
  4. Click the “X" on the app to delete it.

Make sure Slow Keys is turned off

The keys on your MacBook keyboard will be sluggish—meaning you'll need to press and hold them longer than usual before they show up on the screen—if the Slow Keys feature is turned on. Here's how to make sure Slow Keys is turned off:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Select System Preferences > Accessibility.
  3. On the left menu, select Keyboard.
  4. Under Hardware, confirm the Slow Keys box is unchecked.

If you've tried these steps and still need a little help, we're right around the corner. Schedule a repair at the nearest uBreakiFix® by Asurion store and our certified experts can get your device back up and running as soon as the same day.

Nothing ruins productivity like a laptop breakdown

With an Asurion Home+® protection plan, you can keep your downtime to a minimum. This one simple plan covers thousands of eligible devices in your home—from TVs and tablets to smart thermostats and locks—plus provides 24/7 live support from trusted experts for your tech questions. To learn more about laptop protection plans, visit

*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*

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