Keyboard not working

May 16, 2012

My new Windows 7 computer (and new keyboard) is only a month or two old, but this morning when I booted up, the keyboard was dead. How did I know? I used a trick I learned back in the early 1990s when I worked for my first-ever software company — I pressed the Num Lock key above the numeric keypad.  if the light stays steady when you press that key a couple of times, or if the light doesn’t come on at all (as was the case for me this morning), then the keyboard is dead.

But it may not be truly dead, as in you have to replace it. Sometimes, it just isn’t ‘seen’ by the computer, as was the case with mine this morning.

Here are the steps I used to determine if the keyboard was really dead, or just not ‘seen’ by the computer — do these steps in the order below to troubleshoot the issue; at any point where the Num lock key responds, you’re done!:

  1. Make sure the computer is turned on (yes, I know that should be obvious, but let’s make sure the reason is not a switched off computer!).
  2. Test if the keyboard is ‘live’ by pressing the Num Lock key several times. If the light is steady or doesn’t come on at all, then the keyboard and computer aren’t talking to each other.
  3. Unplug the keyboard then plug it back in to the same place. If you’re using a PS2 connection, you only have one place you can plug it into. Try pressing Num Lock again to see if there is connection.
  4. If your keyboard uses a USB connection, plug the keyboard into another USB port and try pressing Num Lock again.
  5. If you have another keyboard, try plugging it in and pressing Num Lock to see if it responds. If it does, but your main keyboard doesn’t, then your main keyboard might be faulty. If the spare keyboard doesn’t respond, then it’s likely an issue at the computer’s end.
  6. Plug your main keyboard back in to the computer and reboot the computer. Press the Num Lock key again. If it responds, all is right in your world again. If it doesn’t, then you may need to talk to a computer technician.

In my case, rebooting my computer with the main keyboard plugged back into its usual socket worked.

Oh, and if it’s a wireless keyboard, replace the batteries!


  1. I pressed the scroll Lock key on my keyboard, along with the Caps Lock in between, several times, and now my keyboard is working!! Thanks so much! :D

  2. Saying “all is right in your world again” is fine and dandy, but that doesn’t say what caused the communication breakdown or how to prevent it in the future. I’m fed up with having to reboot the computer for this issue.

  3. Hi John

    I’m not a hardware expert by anyone’s imagination. These suggestions are just that — suggestions of things to try. One of them may work for you—or not. If you are having problems with your keyboard such that you have to reboot every time, I’d suggest replacing the keyboard. However, if it happens to every keyboard you try, then I suspect something isn’t right with your machine and you’ll need to see a computer technician to see if it can be diagnosed and fixed.


  4. Thanks, Rhonda. Trying another keyboard is an excellent idea. John

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