Dell Latitude Keyboard Not Working

Dell Latitude Keyboard Not Working

Jordan Coburn and 2 contributors
Last updated on

These first few steps may seem trivial but it's easy to forget troubleshooting basics during times of frustration. Before you start any significant repairs to your device, please check the following:

  • Restart your computer. It's Troubleshooting 101 for good reason. Restarting your laptop correctly (rather than by crash or hard shutdown) finalizes any pending repairs and restarts all systems services. Use the restart option in the Start Menu.
  • Check for software updates. Sometimes, these come with fresh keyboard drivers that can fix your problem. Right click the Start Menu and select Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update. Click the Check for Update button.
  • Investigate which keys are affected. This can tell you a lot about the nature of the problem. Use an online Keyboard Tester App for easy visual reference.

Causes

1

Windows is developed for a many languages and regional keyboard layouts. If your keys are not outputting the characters you expect, these settings should be the first place you look.

  • Check the lower left corner near the system tray for a language switcher (or Language Bar). Opening it allows you to select from installed languages or regional keyboards.
  • Check the region and keyboard settings for the currently selected language. Select the correct option if the setting is not what you expect
  • By default, pressing Left Alt + Shift will toggle between input languages. It won't work unless the language bar is enabled. But it might be the reason you're randomly typing in Russian when you're trying to coordinate an in game raid.
  • If the language bar is not showing, but this seems to be your issue, check Windows language settings and set them appropriately. They can be found in the Settings menu under Time & Language.
2

In addition to multiple language support, Microsoft built features to improve accessibility for people who experience difficulties typing. Enabling some of these settings inadvertently could leave you thinking your keyboard isn't responding.

  • Try typing by long pressing keys instead of typing rapidly as you normally would. A good test is to hold the CAPS lock key for a few seconds to see if the LED will light.
  • If you can type with long presses, you need to disable Filter Keys, a setting intended for those who might accidentally nudge other keys while typing.
  • Check your settings in the Ease of Access menu within the Settings app, or Control Panel. Scroll to the Keyboard section and verify it all settings are correct.
3

Dirt or debris can find its way under your keyboard keys and affect the switches, especially if you are prone to spills. iFixit does feature an article on fixing sticky laptop keys. However, we included a brief guide on cleaning your keyboard with high-concentration isopropyl alcohol (at least 90% is recommended) below.

  • Start by shutting the computer down. This will prevent keypresses from messing with anything on your computer.
  • Turn the keyboard upside down and use a soft bristled brush (a new toothbrush should work fine) to wipe any hard debris from under the keys. Be sure to pay special attention to any areas that are particularly afflicted or sticky.
  • Then swap the keyboard with a Q-tip or cloth soaked in isopropyl alcohol.
    • The higher concentration alcohol you use, the more comfortable you can be with saturating the keys.
    • If you know there was a spill, or things are especially sticky, use a weaker concentration and allow some extra time for drying. The water in a weaker solution (about 75%) will dissolve grime more effectively, but will take longer to evaporate.
  • If you are able, remove the keycaps to check for debris. The switches are easy to damage so be as gentle as you can.
  • Allow the keyboard to dry, then turn on your laptop and check to see if functionality has returned.
4

If you are running a particularly demanding application on your computer, it may be interfering with your keyboard input. You can test this by performing the following steps.

  • Close all open programs, then open a single one. Is it any better? Reopen any other programs you had open to attempt to recreate the issue.
  • Uninstall any programs that are interfering.
  • Run a virus scan to ensure no malware is impacting keyboard function. It is unusual, but not unheard of.
5

BIOS settings, stored in a computer's firmware, configure hardware and OS communication. Check these settings to ensure proper keyboard recognition and configuration, potentially resolving unresponsiveness.

  • Access the BIOS by connecting an external keyboard and turning on your laptop. Press F2 several times when the Dell logo appears onscreen.
    • Timing is critical, you may need to try a few times to get in successfully.
  • Check any BIOS settings relating to the keyboard. Be sure it is enabled and configured correctly within the BIOS setup.
6

Your computer's operating system (OS) can become corrupted if critical files are tampered with improperly. This can happen if the computer is powered off during an update, malware infects the computer, a dual-boot partition is set up incorrectly, the computer dies while sleeping, or if the files critical to the OS are altered in any way. This can lead to weird glitches throughout the computer—sometimes affecting the keyboard functionality while the rest of the system runs flawlessly.

Windows provides access to repair tools that correct these corruption issues:

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  1. Right-click on the Start Menu and select Command Prompt, Powershell, or Windows Terminal (Windows 8, 10, and 11 will provide different options).
  2. Type sfc /scannow

Run keyboard repair.

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  1. Open Settings by right-clicking on the Start Menu and choosing Settings.
  2. Next, navigate to System > Troubleshoot > Other troubleshooters > Keyboard (Run).
  3. This will pop up a troubleshooting wizard that might alleviate the issue.
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Use Device Manager to check for keyboard driver updates.

  1. Open Device Manager by right-clicking on the Start Menu and selecting Device Manager.
  2. From there, expand the Keyboards section and right-click on the keyboard device your laptop has (you might have more than one, try doing this to all of them).

If you're using a Linux distribution instead of Windows, you'll want to first check that you have the correct keyboard drivers installed. Beyond properly configuring the drivers, a fresh install of the distro should remove any worries of a corrupted OS being the cause.

7

Check for viruses. Some forms of malware affect the ability to type and generally use the computer.

  • Scan your computer with Malwarebytes or ESET Online Scan. These are free programs that provide some good malware scanning techniques.

Reinstall Windows. A full Windows reinstall may be necessary to restore the keyboard’s normal function as malware infections aren’t always fully cleaned out post-quarantine.

  1. Use a known good and “clean” computer to download the Windows operating system to create a bootable flash drive.
  2. Back up any files, bookmarks, pictures, etc you wish to keep onto a cloud platform like Google Drive or Dropbox after you have run antivirus scans. This can lessen the transfer of existing malware onto your fresh install of Windows compared to plugging in a flash drive and infecting multiple computers.
8

Even if your keyboard would work perfectly otherwise, without a way to get signals to the motherboard, it won't function at all. This is more common after a repair, but can occur regardless.

  • Signs of a bad cable are likely to be visible with inspection. Look closely at corners as well as connectors. Punctures, creases, or tears can impede cable function. Replace the cable if you find any damage.
  • Be sure the cable is properly inserted. The location of the motherboard connector, as well as its width, makes for difficulties getting this connection right.
  • Verify the locking tab on the board connector is present, and in the locked position (tab flipped down). If the connector for this ribbon cable isn't locked correctly, the connection can loosen over time.
    • If the locking tab has come free of the connector it can be repaired as long as you still have the missing piece.
  • Not all models will have a keyboard cable that is a separate part from the keyboard itself.Check to see that the keyboard uses a cable that can be disconnected from both ends. If the cable is integrated into the keyboard, you'll need to replace the entire keyboard, not just the faulty cable.
  • Ultimately, it may come down to an issue with the keyboard itself. This is typically a result of liquid damage, but can occur regardless. Keyboards often come as part of an assembly, but are independently replaceable in some models.
    • If columns, or rows of keys are not functioning without liquid damage, or you have been unsuccessful at getting responses out of some keys, replacing the keyboard is the likeliest solution.
9

If all the above tips have failed, there is likely an issue with your laptop's motherboard.

  • Inspect both sides of the motherboard for any signs of physical damage, such as burnt components, liquid residue, corrosion, or other visible issues.
  • If your motherboard's components aren't functioning properly, you will likely need to source a replacement board.
  • Circuit boards can often be repaired by a knowledgeable technician with soldering (or microsoldering) experience. Ask your local repair shops if this isn't something you think you could do yourself.

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