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How to Unlock a Computer Keyboard

written by: C.D. Crowder•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 2/25/2011

Nothing is more frustrating than your keyboard not responding. The problem can be as simple as a locked keyboard. Unlock a computer keyboard to regain control over your keys and system.

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    Causes of a Locked Keyboard

    One of the most common causes of a locked keyboard is holding the Shift key, sometimes called the keyboard lock key, for eight seconds or more. This changes keyboard settings, locking out certain keys or the entire computer keyboard. Other problems occur when you press certain keys such as Number Lock, which may lock part of your keyboard.

    Though this happens rarely, having an outdated driver, especially when you upgrade your operating system, causes a locked keyboard. A driver is necessary for your operating system to correctly recognize and communicate with your keyboard.

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    Change Settings

    Accessibility Options If only a part of your keyboard is locked, the culprit is likely the Number Lock or Scroll Lock key being turned on or off. Press either key one at a time and then test the locked portion of your keyboard. If this doesn't fix the problem, check for dust or debris under the keys. Use compressed air to remove any dirt and then test your keyboard again. This should unlock small portions of your keyboard.

    If your entire keyboard is locked, change the accessibility settings. Go to Start and select Control Panel. For Windows XP, select Accessibility Options. For Windows Vista and higher, select Ease of Access Center. Select the keyboard settings. Ensure the following options are unchecked: Turn on Sticky Keys, Turn on Toggle Keys and Turn on Filter Keys. Press Apply to save your settings. Press OK to exit the settings window. Test the keys to see if this unlocked your keyboard.

    Image Credits: User Created

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    Disconnect

    If settings are not the problem, there may be a connection issue. Unlock a computer keyboard by first disconnecting it from your computer. If you have a laptop, skip this step unless absolutely necessary. Reconnect the keyboard. Please note that disconnecting and reconnecting the computer keyboard works with both wired and wireless models. Test the locked keyboard.

    If problems still exist, restart your computer. This will refresh your connection with the computer, allowing the system to unlock the computer keyboard.

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    Drivers

    When you upgrade your operating system, the keyboard may lock due to outdated drivers. Either visit your keyboard manufacturer's website for the latest drivers or let Windows do it for you. Go to Start and right click Computer. Choose Manage. Select Device Manager. Right click your keyboard and choose Update Driver Software. Follow the prompts to search for new drivers.

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    Other Problems

    If nothing allows you to unlock a computer keyboard, the problem may be within the hardware itself. Check the cable and connector, if applicable, connecting the keyboard to your computer. Look for nicks or tears in the cable. A severe twist in the cable can also cause connection problems. If the cable is not the issue, try the keyboard on another computer, if possible. If it is still locked or unresponsive, the keyboard itself is malfunctioning. Dirt and normal wear and tear often damage a computer keyboard beyond repair.

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    References

    Author's own experience