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OS X Mountain Lion: If keys on your keyboard don’t work

If keys on your keyboard don’t work

If your computer doesn’t respond when you press the keys on your keyboard, or if pressing some keys has unexpected results, try the following.

If no keys work on an external keyboard:

  • Disconnect and reconnect the keyboard. Make sure the connector is completely inserted into the port.
  • Connect your keyboard to a different USB port or to a different Macintosh computer. If this solves the problem, your computer may need to be repaired. Take it to an Apple Authorized Service Provider, such as an Apple Retail Store.
  • Connect a different keyboard to this computer. If this solves the problem, you may need to take your keyboard in for service.

If some keys on your portable computer’s built-in keyboard don’t work:

  • If the keyboard produces only numbers, make sure the Num Lock key’s indicator light is off. Press the Num Lock key to turn its light off.

    If the Num Lock key doesn’t have an indicator light, press the key and try the keyboard again.

  • If none of the keys work, your computer may be showing a low battery alert that you can’t see. Connect your computer to an electric outlet or an external keyboard to see the alert.

If the Media Eject key or Caps Lock key doesn’t work:

Try holding down the key longer. These keys have a slight delay to prevent them from being pressed accidentally. Hold down the Media Eject key until the Media Eject icon appears on your screen, and hold down the Caps Lock key until the key’s indicator light lights up.

If other keys don’t work:

  • You may have accidentally set an option that changes how your keyboard operates.
  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Dictation & Speech, and then click “Text to Speech.” If “Speak selected text when the key is pressed” is selected, deselect it or press Set Key to select another key.
  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, and then click Keyboard. Make sure Slow Keys is turned off. If Slow Keys is on, you must hold down a key longer than usual before it’s recognized.
  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Accessibility, and then click Mouse & Trackpad. Make sure Mouse Keys is off. If Mouse Keys is on, pressing keys in the numeric keypad moves the pointer instead of entering numbers.
  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Language & Text, and then click Input Sources. Select the checkbox next to Keyboard & Character Viewer, and then select “Show Input menu in menu bar.” Open the Input menu and make sure the correct keyboard layout is selected. To see the keyboard layout, choose Show Keyboard Viewer from the Input menu.
Last Modified: Aug 8, 2013
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  • Last Modified: Aug 8, 2013
  • Article: PH10680
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