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Installing Keyboards; Locating Ports and Connecting the Keyboard

written by: Keith Elliott•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 6/12/2010

You will need to find the correct port on your computer for the type of keyboard you have purchased, either PS/2 or USB, and then just connect the keyboard to the computer. The process is slightly different depending on whether you are attaching a PS/2 or USB keyboard.

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    Locating the Ports

    USB plugs and sockets 

    You have bought a new keyboard, but now you want to locate a suitable port and connect it properly to the PC. You will need to look on the back of your computer to find the USB and PS/2 ports you need to connect the keyboard to, but your system may even have extra ports found on many parts of the computer.

    USB keyboard 

    USB ports – Many types of hardware will attach to a PC using USB, so new computers today all come with a few USB ports and you should find a few on the rear of your computer in a part of the computer called the I/O (input/output) panel. I suggest implementing the USB ports found in the rear even if you think another USB location is better situated for the job. This is in case you want to make use of one of the easier to reach USB ports for your digital camera, MP3 player, external hard drives, or other devices.

    PS/2 – The PS/2 ports on your PC will also be found on the back of your PC on the input/output panel. Should the PC you are using be a tower model, you will often find the PS/2 ports closer to the top of the panel, but not always. A computer that lies horizontal across a surface generally has PS/2 ports on the left side of the input/output panel. There will be separate PS/2 ports for both the keyboard and the mouse to plug into with computers using PS/2 ports.

    You can use any USB port with computers implementing them to connect the keyboard and mouse, but PS/2 ports are specific for both the keyboard and mouse. The mouse and keyboard will both refuse to work if they are in the wrong port. The PS/2 port for the keyboard is usually closer to the motherboard than the PS/2 port for the mouse. On tower models, PCs the left PS/2 port is usually the keyboard PS/2 port, while flat models usually have the keyboard PS/2 ports on the bottom of the panel. Many computer makers have color-coded PS/2 ports and connectors in the last few years, so any purple ports will be keyboard PS/2 capable. You might also find little keyboard or mouse pictures next to the PS/2 ports in question.

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    Connecting the Keyboard

    A PS/2 keyboard 

    A PS/2 keyboard 

    Now that you have found the correct port for the keyboard, you can think about plugging it into the computer. I suggest separate steps for connecting the keyboard depending on whether you have USB or PS/2 ports to use.

    Connecting a USB port can be done when your computer is already on. However, if you are detaching an old PS/2 keyboard, turn off the PC before doing so.

    You cannot plug a USB connector incorrectly, because they only plug into a port in a specific orientation. Never jam the connector into the port. Should the connector not slide easily into the port, turn the connector until it fits into place easily. A USB connector will fit into the USB port in a straight direction.

    It might be necessary for Windows to install a generic keyboard driver. This is just an application that allows Windows to talk to the new device, so don’t panic if it takes a few minutes before the keyboard will work. Should the keyboard you are connecting have any special keyboard capabilities, such as multimedia buttons for manipulating the sound or flipping through music, the associated software for these applications will have to be installed if you want to use them.

    The actual process of installing differs from one manufacturer to another, so make sure to read the instruction booklet that comes with your keyboard. Usually you can just put the CD in the CD-ROM drive and follow the Install prompts that appear to do the job. You will need to follow the steps included on the CD and supply any data they ask for.

    When connecting a PS/2 keyboard, always turn off the PC before detaching any connectors or attempting to attach a new keyboard. Once again, PS/2 connectors will only fit in the hole one way, so if it doesn’t fit easily in the slot just rotate the connector until it does.

    After attaching your keyboard, flip the switch and the PS/2 keyboard should respond, just remember that PS/2 keyboards also require you to reload the software provided with any advanced features to get them to work.