What to do if your MacBook keyboard is not working (2023)

For some, it’s the MacBook keyboard that’s not working; for others, it’s the trackpad that’s acting up. For a worrying number of people, the issue is with both. Worse still, the problem doesn’t seem to be affecting a particular type of MacBook but both Pro and Air models from 2011 onwards.

What to do if your MacBook keyboard is not working (1)

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Whether it’s one key or all of them, your MacBook is all but useless if the keyboard isn’t working. Here are a few things you can try to kick it back into life.

(Video) How to Fix Keyboard Macbook Not Working | Repair Keys

1. Clean the keyboard

That’s right. Cleaning is actually Apple’s recommended fix for unresponsive keyboards. To make this work, you’ll need a can of compressed air and a straw to control the airflow. If you have those things, here are Apple’s suggested steps:

  1. Hold your MacBook at a 75-degree angle.
  2. Use the compressed air to spray the keyboard in a left-to-right motion.
  3. Rotate your MacBook onto its right side and spray the keyboard again, from left to right.
  4. Repeat with the MacBook rotated to its left side.

At the very least, using compressed air rules out any crumbs or bits of debris being the cause of the Apple keyboard not working. Hopefully, though, it provides the fix you’ve been searching for.

2. Check for updates

Is your system up-to-date? It seems obvious, but there’s every chance that outdated firmware, drivers, or even the operating system affect the keyboard.

To check for updates, open the App Store and click on the Updates icon. If updates are available, click on the Update or Update All button to install them.

It’s worth having your Maccheck for updates automatically. You can do this by going to the Apple menu> System Settings > General > Software Updateand turning on Automatic updates.

What to do if your MacBook keyboard is not working (2)

3. Delete recent apps

Is the problem a recent one? Has it occurred only after downloading a new app? It’s not unheard of for an app to cause conflict and knock other things out of sync. Try deleting recent apps to see if the keyboard regains proper function. If it doesn’t work, you can easily reinstall them.

You can delete applications manually in one of two ways: using the Launchpad and the Finder.

Deleting apps using the Launchpad

  1. Click on the Launchpad icon.
  2. Position the pointer over the app you want to get rid of and press and hold until all the icons start to jiggle.
  3. Hit the Delete button.

Deleting apps using the Finder

  1. In the Finder, click Applications.
  2. Find the app that you want to delete and drag it from the Applications folder to the Trash.
  3. Open Trash > Empty to permanently remove the app.

Deleting apps with CleanMyMac X

Removing apps manually is quick and easy, but it’s not comprehensive. Traces of the app can be left behind in files. To fully remove any trace of the app, CleanMyMac X’sUninstaller feature is the best solution.

(Video) How to Fix Keyboard Macbook Not Working | Repair All Problem Keys

  1. Download and open CleanMyMac X — it’s free to download.
  2. Click on the Uninstaller tab.
  3. Click View All Applications.
  4. Select the box for any app that you want to remove.
  5. Click Uninstall.
What to do if your MacBook keyboard is not working (3)

It really is as simple as it sounds.

What to do if your MacBook trackpad is not working

The trackpad on MacBook is one of the best around, and it works brilliantly with macOS… When it actually is working, that is. If you’re having trackpad troubles, work your way through these possible fixes.

1. Reboot and close the lid

This one is a bit of a strange tip, but it’s worked for a few people. It’s basically the old “switch it off and back on again” fix that works for anything and everything.

  1. Reboot your MacBook from the Apple menu.
  2. Once rebooted, close the lid to put your MacBook to sleep and leave it for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Open the lid, and the trackpad should be working as normal.

This tip might also work for the keyboard, so give it a try if your keys aren’t working.

2. Disable Force Click

If a failure to register clicks is the problem for the trackpad not working on your Mac, you can disable Force Click.

What to do if your MacBook keyboard is not working (4)
  1. Go to System Settings.
  2. Click on Trackpad and locate the Point & Click tab.
  3. Turn off the “Force Click and haptic feedback” option.

Note: this fix will only work on MacBooks that include 3D Touch.

3. Reset the Mac SMC

Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) is a proven fix for all manner of hardware and power-related issues. How you do this depends on whether or not your MacBook has a detachable battery.

If you have aMac computer with Apple silicon, just restart it. For other models, follow the steps below.

(Video) MacBook Keyboard FIXED in ONE CLICK / Daily Vlog 019

Resetting the SMC on Macs with non-removable batteries:

  1. Shut down your MacBook.
  2. Hold down Shift-Control-Option.
  3. Keep holding all three keys for 7 seconds. Then, press and holdthe Power button as well.
  4. Hold all four keys for 7-10 seconds.
  5. Releasethe keys.
  6. Reboot your Mac and test the trackpad.

Resetting the SMC on Macs with removable batteries:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Remove the battery
  3. Press the Power button and hold itfor 5 seconds.
  4. Reinstall the battery.
  5. Turn on your Mac.

Resetting the SMC on desktop Macs:

  1. Turn off your Mac and unplug the power cord.
  2. Wait 15 seconds, then plug the power cord back in.
  3. Wait 5 seconds, thenstart up your Mac.

Possible fixes if both MacBook trackpad and keyboard aren’t working

If both the keyboard and trackpad are not working, your MacBook is nothing more than a monitor, albeit a very pretty one. You can use a Bluetooth or wireless mouse or keyboard, but you could have just bought an iMac instead if you wanted to do that.

Here are some troubleshooting tips that have worked for dual keyboard and trackpad issues

1. Delete .plist files

Property List (plist) files are used to store user preference files related to software. Deleting them will reset your keyboard and trackpad back to factory settings. Before you go ahead and do this, you should back up your Mac using the Time Machine in case anything goes wrong.

What to do if your MacBook keyboard is not working (5)
  1. Press Command-Shift-G in the Finder.
  2. Enter ~/Library/Preferences/ and press Return.
  3. Locate the following files:
  • com.apple.driver.AppleBluetoothMultitouch.trackpad.plist - Magic Trackpad
  • com.apple.driver.AppleBluetoothMultitouch.mouse.plist - Magic Mouse
  • com.apple.driver.AppleHIDMouse.plist - wired USB mouse
  • com.apple.AppleMultitouchTrackpad.plist
  • сom.apple.preference.trackpad.plist
  • Delete the files.
  • Reboot your Mac.
  • 2. Reset PRAM

    Resetting Parameter RAM (PRAM) is similar to resetting the SMC in that it’s a good fix for a wide variety is issues. AMac with Apple silicon resets PRAM automatically.

    For an Intel-based Mac:

    (Video) How to FIX Apple MacBook Air KEYBOARD & TRACKPAD Not Working After UPDATE !!!

    1. Fully shut down your MacBook.
    2. Reboot your Mac and press and hold Command-Option-P-R.
    3. Wait until you hear the reboot sound or whenthe Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time and release the keys.
    4. Let the system reboot normally.

    3. Restore system to an earlier point

    If problems with the keyboard and trackpad have recently appeared, you can restore your Mac to a previous date using the Time Machine. The issue could be due to a recent system change, and a restore can repair it.

    This method will require you to have Time Machine set up to backup data to a storage device. We’ve written an article on how to do that here.

    First, boot your Mac into recovery mode.

    For aMac withApple silicon:

    1. When turning on your Mac, press and hold the Power button.
    2. Keep it pressed until you see startup options.
    3. Click the Gears icon (Options) and hit Continue.
    4. You may be asked to select a user and enter their administrator password. Follow on-screen instructions and press Next after any action you take.

    For an Intel-based Mac:

    1. Go to Apple menu > Restart.
    2. Immediately press and hold Command+R.
    3. Don’t release the keys until you hear Mac’s startup sound or until the Apple logo appears.

    Once booted, select Restore From Time Machine Backup. This will restore your Mac to 24 hours previous.

    Each of these fixes has worked for one or more MacBook users, so it’s worth trying each one until you find the solution. Once you’ve found a fix, use CleanMyMac X regularly to maintain your system and prevent junk files from affecting keyboard and trackpad performance.

    Stay in control of your Mac’s activity

    If none of that works, your Mac will need a more comprehensive checkup. This is possible if you own a tool like iStat Menus. Basically, it’s an advancedMac monitor that allows you to dive under the hood of your macOS. Using the app regularly is also a good way to prevent your keyboard and trackpad from misbehaving in the first place.

    (Video) How To Login To Your Mac If Your Keyboard Isn't Working

    iStat Menus lets you controlCPU andmemory load, disk usage, disk activity, fan sensors, battery life and cycles, weather, and so much more.

      In case you want a simpler version of a monitoring tool, use One Switch. It’s a set of toggles available from the menu bar. Works perfectly for searching hidden files, enabling Sleep Time or Dark Mode, etc.

      If the unthinkable happens and you’re still experiencing issues, you might need to contact Apple Support or visit an authorized service provider for repairs — but hopefully, that’s not the case.


      Why is my Mac Keyboard not typing properly? ›

      You may have accidentally set an option that changes how your keyboard operates. Choose Apple menu > System Settings, click Accessibility in the sidebar, then click Keyboard on the right. (You may need to scroll down.) Make sure Slow Keys is turned off.

      How do I reset my MacBook Keyboard? ›

      Control–Command–Power button:*

      Force your Mac to restart, without prompting to save any open and unsaved documents. Control–Command–Media Eject : Quit all apps, then restart your Mac.

      How do I fix unresponsive Keyboard keys? ›

      Here's how to fix unresponsive keyboard keys:
      1. Unplug the keyboard and plug it back in. ...
      2. Try a different cable. ...
      3. Replace the batteries. ...
      4. Clean the keyboard. ...
      5. Blow out the unresponsive switch. ...
      6. Use contact cleaner. ...
      7. Inspect the solder joints. ...
      8. Replace the switch.
      Mar 14, 2022

      Why is my keyboard not typing correctly? ›

      Your keyboard might type the wrong characters due to malware infections. Remember, keyloggers are common and they can change your keyboard settings. Keyloggers are often undetected, but they can cause various keyboard issues. Check out a good antivirus guide for software recommendations.

      How do you fix a glitched keyboard? ›

      Start with the basics: If you have a wired keyboard, check that your connection to the computer is stable and in place. Unplug it and plug it back in again if necessary. For wireless keyboards, check that they still have battery life/new batteries and plug them into a source of power to see if that addresses the issue.

      How do I unfreeze my MacBook Pro keyboard? ›

      How to quickly unfreeze your Mac. Press Command- Esc-Option on your keyboard at the same time, then release them.

      How do I restore my keyboard? ›

      To add it back:
      1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Settings app. .
      2. Tap System. Languages and input.
      3. Tap Virtual keyboard. Manage keyboards.
      4. Turn on Gboard.

      Why is my laptop not typing letters? ›

      Reinstall or Update the Keyboard Driver

      If you can't type on keyboard in Windows 10/11, the main reason for this may be the outdated or damaged keyboard driver. To fix this issue, you can reinstall or update the driver.

      How do I unfreeze my keyboard? ›

      Try this: If your device seems unresponsive, your first step should be pressing down on Ctrl + Alt + Del at once to see if you can end a malfunctioning program or process. You can also try using the Win + Ctrl + Shift + B command to reset your video drivers if you think a problem with your screen may be responsible.

      How do I reset my keyboard sensitivity? ›

      Search the word keyboard in the Start Menu search box, then click on Keyboard (Windows 10) or Keyboard Properties (Windows 7). Both will open the Keyboard Properties window. Here, you will find values for Repeat delay and Repeat wait. If your keyboard is too fast, modify these to long and slow.

      Why are few keys not working on keyboard? ›

      Remove Debris Under the Key

      If specific keyboard keys are not working, the simplest and most likely cause is that something is preventing your presses from being recognized. Grab a can of compressed air with a thin nozzle (most come with one) and blow air under the problem key or keys.

      How do I lock and unlock the Fn key? ›

      To enable FN Lock on the All in One Media Keyboard, press the FN key, and the Caps Lock key at the same time. To disable FN Lock, press the FN key, and the Caps Lock key at the same time again.

      Why are my keyboard letters not working but numbers are? ›

      When you press the 'U, I, O, J, K, L…' letter keys on the right side of keyboard, occasionally numbers can come up instead. This situation usually occurs when Num Lock has been enabled. To solve this problem, you should turn Num Lock off. To disable Num Lock, press the FN key and F11.

      Why are my keys randomly not working? ›

      When a keyboard stops working randomly, it's usually a connection or software issue. Check all physical connections for any dirt or broken parts. Also, test the wireless connection to ensure it's not cutting out. Updating the keyboard driver is a common and easy software fix to a glitching keyboard.


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