The keys on a Dell laptop are some of the most problematic keys you can come across. However, most of the problems that arise with them can be corrected at home. Most professional repair methods involve completely replacing the keyboard, so take a couple of minutes to determine if it can be repaired in another way. If your laptop is still under warranty, contact Dell Technical Support to see if your keyboard can be repaired free of charge or at a reduced cost.
Method 1 of 3: Repair Dropdown Keys
Step 1. Turn off your computer
Also unplug it from the mains. While repairing your keyboard is not dangerous, you should always take these precautions before repairing your computer.
Step 2. Remove the key
Most keys are easy to detach - twist a little and they will disengage from the latch. If necessary, you can lift the key by the corners with a flat head screwdriver.
Step 3. Inspect the attachment points on the key
At the base of the key, there should be up to four attachment points that secure the keys to the keyboard. Examine the key carefully for a broken mount. Depending on what you find, proceed to one of the steps below.
If you are not sure what you see, detach a working key of the same size by lifting it at the corners with a flat head screwdriver. Compare the mounts on both keys
Step 4. Replace the broken key
If the attachment points are broken, then you need a new key. Buy a key online. Make sure it matches your laptop model and the location of the mounting points. In order to insert a new key, you need to attach one of the attachment points to the keyboard, and then press down on the key until you hear two loud clicks, one on each side of the key.
You can also remove a key of the same size, which you rarely use, and insert it in place of the defective key
Step 5. Repair the metal bracket on the large keys
The space bar and the ⇧ Shift key are held on the keyboard by a metal bracket. If the bracket comes off, you will need to reattach it to the small plastic hook on the keyboard. The staple runs along the bottom edge of the key and attaches to the hooks at the left and right ends. After you secure the bracket, press down on the key and check if it continues to wobble.
- After the brace is first released from the hook, it will detach from time to time, which can cause slight inconvenience. Consider buying a new keyboard or take it to a repair shop.
- If you are installing a replacement for one of these keys, be aware that the replacement key must come with its own bracket. First, remove the old bracket by lifting it up with a flat head screwdriver.
Step 6. Examine the key for other problems
Keys will almost always fall out due to damage to the keycap or metal bracket for large keys. If you are sure the key is in good condition, read the section on stuck keys.
Method 2 of 3: Repair a Stuck or Broken Key
Step 1. Turn off your computer and unplug it from the electrical outlet
This will reduce the likelihood of damage to you and your computer.
Step 2. Lift the key with a screwdriver
Use a small flat head screwdriver to remove the jammed key. Start by lifting each corner of the key. Listen for a clicking sound, which indicates that a key has come off the keyboard. Repeat this for each corner until the key is completely removed from the keyboard. You will hear two clicks.
- Don't overdo it. If the key won't detach, try raising another corner.
- In order to detach large keys, such as the space bar or the Shift key, they must be lifted at the top of the key (closest to the laptop screen).
Step 3. Inspect the key for dirt or debris
They can cause the key to get stuck. Remove small items with tweezers. Remove dust and animal hair with compressed air or carefully vacuum the key.
Step 4. Wipe up spills
If you've spilled something on the keyboard, then wipe it up with a lint-free cloth. Dampen a cloth with a little rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the keyboard. Do not replace the keys until the alcohol is completely gone and the keyboard is dry.
Step 5. Inspect the clamping plate
The clamping plate is often made of white plastic and consists of two thin square pieces attached to each other. They must be firmly attached to the keyboard and to each other. Otherwise, remove the plate by gently spreading its corners with a screwdriver. Read on for detailed instructions on how to replace them.
Step 6. Inspect the silicone rubber
This elastic is located under the key. Make sure it is standing up and press down gently with a clean, soft object. If the elastic sticks to the bottom instead of rising, then it needs to be cleaned or replaced.
- Do not touch it with a dirty or sharp object. This part of the keyboard is very easy to damage.
- Take a lint-free cloth, dampen it a little with rubbing alcohol and wipe the gum. Rub with extreme care and wait for it to dry.
Step 7. Stick on a new rubber band
Before you start, you must understand that this is a rather risky step and if you apply too much glue it can ruin the key. For greater reliability, it is better to take the keyboard to a computer workshop and replace it all. If you decide to fix everything yourself, do the following:
- Very carefully remove the rubber band from the key you are not using by lifting it up with a sharp knife. This can damage the rubber very easily, but it is practically the only source of replacement rubber bands.
- Take a piece of paper and use a toothpick to apply some strong glue, such as silicone glue.
- Take the rubber band with tweezers and place it on a piece of paper, then transfer it to the keyboard.
- Wait at least 30 minutes or as long as indicated in the instructions for the glue.
- Install the clamping plate and the key itself. Wait 20 minutes before starting to work on the keyboard again.
Method 3 of 3: Installing the clamping plate
Step 1. Inspect the plate for damage
The clamping plate consists of two parts. A large square or U-shaped piece attaches to the base of the keyboard and to the key. The smaller part, with a circular hole in the center, attaches to a small slot in the keyboard base. The two pieces are held together by two small clips, one on each side of the smaller piece. If one of these parts is missing or broken, order a replacement key or clamping plate for your specific keyboard model. If both parts appear to be whole, proceed to the next step.
- Before ordering a replacement key, make sure it comes with a clamping plate. They can be referred to as "loops".
- You can also remove the clamping plate from the unused key and install it on the damaged one.
- On some models, the clamps are separate items. If they fall out, you can put them back in with tweezers.
Step 2. Examine the adjacent key
Even on the same keyboard, different clamping plates can be set in different ways. Detach the adjacent key the same size as the key you are replacing by lifting it up at the corners. Inspect the work key clamping plate. This way it will be much easier for you to understand what the work clamping plate should look like.
Step 3. Insert the bulk into the keyboard
On some laptop models, you will have to squeeze most of the plate laterally to slide it into the slot at the base of the keyboard. Do this before securing the two pieces together. After you attach the part to the keyboard, you can lift it up a little.
Only one side of this part is attached to the keyboard
Step 4. Insert the smaller part of the plate into the keyboard
Hold the smaller part with the concave side down, or feel which side attaches to the groove and hold it upside down. Lower it into the slot on the keyboard and snap the plate into the slot.
Step 5. Insert two pieces
Find two pins on the smaller part of the plate. Gently push them into the bulk until the two pieces are connected.
If you push too hard, you can break the clamping plate
Step 6. Insert the key
Insert the key into the clamping plate. Press down on the key until you hear two clicks. The key must be firmly attached to the keyboard.
- Use a fine-tip marker or paint brush to paint letters on the key.
- If you are missing a lot of keys, consider purchasing and installing a brand new keyboard from Dell. Make sure the keyboard you choose matches your laptop make and model.
- If your laptop is still under warranty and it covers the cost of repairing the keyboard, take it to a repair shop.
- In some repair instructions, the clamping plate is called the scissor support bar.
- Be very careful when removing the rubber band under the key. It is much more difficult to repair a damaged rubber band than a damaged key.
- Repairing the laptop yourself may void the warranty. If you are not sure if you can fix it yourself, or if you think the risk is too high, consider hiring a professional to do it. If your laptop is still under warranty, contact Dell Technical Support.