Is Your Dell Laptop Keyboard Locked? 13 Instant Fixes

dell laptop keyboard locked

Experiencing a randomly locked keyboard on your Dell laptop can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you’re in the middle of an important task. It’s a problem that many Dell users have encountered and can be due to a variety of factors.

Whether it’s a software glitch, an incorrect setting, or a hardware malfunction, this guide is here to help. We will walk you through the 13 best solutions to unlock your Dell laptop keyboard and get you back to your work with minimal interruption.

Let’s dive into the most helpful tips for when your Dell laptop keyboard locked unexpectedly.

Why is My Dell Laptop Keyboard Locked?

There could be several reasons why your Dell laptop keyboard is locked:

  • Software glitches: Sometimes, specific software conflicts or bugs can cause the keyboard to lock. Pending updates or incompatible software can occasionally lead to this issue in both office and school laptops.
  • Incorrect Settings: The keyboard settings may be inadvertently changed, causing the keyboard to lock. This could happen due to an accidental key press or while configuring settings.
  • Hardware malfunction: Faulty wiring, loose connections, or physical damage to the keyboard can lead to its malfunction.
  • Faulty Keyboard Drivers: Outdated or corrupt keyboard drivers can cause the keyboard to lock. Regular updates are crucial to keep your drivers functioning correctly.
  • Activation of Filter Keys: If Filter Keys, a feature that tells the keyboard to ignore brief or repeated keystrokes, is enabled, it might seem like the keyboard is locked.
  • Virus or Malware Attack: Viruses or malicious software can cause major disruptions in system functionality, including locking your keyboard. Regularly updating your antivirus software can help prevent this.

Restart Your Laptop

A simple restart can often prove to be a solution to many computer issues, including a locked keyboard.

Restarting your laptop allows the system to shut down all processes, clear its RAM, and start afresh.

This can result in resolving any temporary software glitches or conflicts that might be causing the keyboard to lock. It’s like giving your system a short break to reset and rectify any minor issues.

  1. To restart your Dell laptop, (here is a guide on different ways to restart Dell laptops)
  2. click on the ‘Start’ button,
  3. select the ‘Power’ option,
  4. and then choose ‘Restart’.

After your laptop has restarted, try using your keyboard again to see if the problem has been resolved.

Check the Keyboard Lock Keys

Sometimes, the keyboard might seem locked due to the Num Lock or Scroll Lock keys being enabled. These keys can alter the function of specific keys and may make it seem as though the keyboard is not responding correctly.

Here is a quick tutorial on finding and turning off scroll lock.

  • Num Lock: If the Num Lock key is enabled, the numeric part of your keyboard turns into a number pad. This can make it seem like some keys are not working when in fact they’re just functioning differently. To disable it, simply press the ‘Num Lock’ key.
  • Scroll Lock: Enabling Scroll Lock alters the functionality of the arrow keys. When Scroll Lock is on, the arrow keys scroll through the contents of a text box instead of moving the cursor. Again, press the ‘Scroll Lock’ key to disable this feature.

Check the status lights on your keyboard to see if these keys are engaged. Press the corresponding key to disengage and return the keyboard to its standard functionality if they are.

Here is a table for the different filter keys and what they do:

KeyFunctionExample Usage
Fn (Function Key)Used in combination with other keys to perform specific functions.Fn + F2 might mute the volume.
Num LockToggles the numeric keypad on and off. When off, certain keys can have other functions.Num Lock + 4 might act as a left arrow.
Caps LockToggles capitalization for typing.Caps Lock + a will type ‘A’.
Scroll LockHistorically used to modify the behavior of the arrow keys. Rarely used in modern laptops.Scroll Lock + ↓ might scroll down.
Alt + Ctrl + DelBrings up the task manager or can be used to lock the computer.Alt + Ctrl + Del to open Task Manager.
Windows + LLocks the computer screen.Windows + L to lock the screen.
F1-F12 (Function Keys)Perform specific functions depending on the laptop model and settings.F2 might be used to rename a file.
Alt + F4Closes the current window or application.Alt + F4 to close a program.
Ctrl + Alt + Arrow KeysIn some systems, can rotate the screen orientation.Ctrl + Alt + ↓ might flip the screen upside down.

Update Keyboard Drivers

Outdated or corrupt keyboard drivers can also lead to issues with the keyboard not responding. Therefore, checking for driver updates is a crucial step in troubleshooting.

  1. To do this, first, go to the ‘Device Manager’. This can be accessed via the Control Panel or by searching for “Device Manager” in the Start menu.
  2. Once in the Device Manager, find and expand the ‘Keyboards’ category.
  3. Right-click on your keyboard driver. This is typically listed as ‘Standard PS/2 Keyboard’ or may be named differently depending on your specific laptop model.
  4. From the drop-down menu, select ‘Update Driver’.
  5. The system will then search for and install any available updates for the keyboard driver.

After the updates have been installed, restart your laptop to let the changes take effect. Test your keyboard again to see if the issue has been resolved.

Use an External Keyboard

If you’re still experiencing issues with your laptop keyboard, a useful troubleshooting step is to connect an external keyboard.

This can be done via a USB or wireless connection, depending on the keyboard model. Once connected, test the external keyboard to see if it’s working properly.

If the external keyboard works without any issues, it’s likely that your laptop keyboard is faulty and may need repairs or replacement. This simple test can help confirm whether the problem lies with your laptop keyboard or if it’s a system-wide issue.

Here are some great options:

  1. Logitech K811 Bluetooth Keyboard
    • A versatile and reliable option with easy-switching between three connected devices.
  2. Anker Ultra Compact Slim Profile Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard
    • Offers a good balance between price and performance with a compact design.
  3. Microsoft Surface Keyboard
    • A sleek and stylish option with a stable Bluetooth connection.
  4. Apple Magic Keyboard
    • A high-quality option for those who prefer Apple products, and it works well with Windows too.
  5. Arteck HB030B Universal Slim Portable Wireless Bluetooth 3.0 7-Colors Backlit Keyboard
    • A budget-friendly choice with colorful backlighting options.

Run a Hardware Diagnostic

Dell laptops often come equipped with a robust and handy built-in diagnostic tool. This can be utilized to perform a comprehensive check for any potential hardware issues, including faults with the keyboard.

To run a diagnostic test, restart your laptop and press the ‘F12’ key when the Dell logo appears during booting. This will take you to the ‘Boot Menu’. Here, navigate to and select ‘Diagnostics’ using the arrow keys.

Press ‘Enter’ to initiate the diagnostic test. The tool will then scan your laptop’s hardware components, identify any issues, and provide troubleshooting options. It’s advisable to follow these prompts to resolve any detected problems.

Check for Malware

Malware infections can occasionally lead to keyboard lock issues on your laptop. These malicious programs may interfere with your system processes and cause unusual behavior, such as your keyboard not responding or locking up.

It is therefore essential to run a full system scan to ensure no malware is causing the problem.

To perform a system scan, you’ll need reputable antivirus software installed on your laptop. Open your antivirus program and select the option to run a full or comprehensive system scan.

This process may take some time as it examines all files and programs on your machine for potential threats. If any infections are found during the scan, the antivirus software will either quarantine or remove them.

After the scan is completed, restart your laptop and check if your keyboard is functioning correctly. This step will help ensure your system is free of malicious software that could potentially cause keyboard lock issues.

Norton 360

  • Offers advanced protection against various malware, including viruses, spyware, and ransomware, and includes a secure VPN and password manager.

McAfee Total Protection

  • Provides comprehensive protection against malware and phishing attacks and includes a firewall and a password manager.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

  • Delivers excellent malware detection and protection and includes features like a VPN and a password manager.

Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus

  • A lightweight and efficient solution that offers real-time threat protection and secure browsing.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

  • Known for its high malware detection rate, it can be used alongside other antivirus software for additional protection.

Reinstall Keyboard Drivers

If the above methods fail to resolve the issue, it could be due to outdated or corrupted keyboard drivers. In such cases, reinstalling the keyboard driver might solve the problem.

To do this, first, press ‘Windows + X’ to open the Power User Menu and select ‘Device Manager’. Once the Device Manager window opens, locate and expand the ‘Keyboards’ section. Right-click on your keyboard’s driver, which is usually labeled as ‘Standard PS/2 Keyboard’ or something similar. Select ‘Uninstall device’ from the context menu that appears.

When prompted, confirm the uninstallation. After the uninstall process is complete, restart your laptop. Windows will automatically reinstall the keyboard driver upon booting, potentially resolving any issues you were experiencing.

Be sure to check if the keyboard is functioning correctly after the system restarts. If the problem persists, you may need to download and install the latest keyboard driver from the laptop manufacturer’s website.

Adjust the Keyboard Settings

There may be a chance that the keyboard settings are not properly configured, causing the keyboard to malfunction. To check and adjust these settings, navigate to the Control Panel.

You can do this by clicking on the ‘Start’ menu and typing ‘Control Panel’ into the search bar. Once the Control Panel window is open, locate and click on the ‘Keyboard’ option.

Here, you will see options to adjust the keyboard settings such as ‘Character repeat’, ‘Repeat delay’, and ‘Repeat rate’. The ‘Repeat delay’ refers to the amount of time you must hold down a key before it starts repeating. The ‘Repeat rate’ determines how quickly the key repeats itself once it starts. Adjust these settings according to your preference, and click ‘Apply’ followed by ‘OK’ to save these changes.

After making these adjustments, test your keyboard to see if it’s functioning correctly. Fixing the keyboard settings may just be the solution you need to resolve keyboard issues. If the problem persists, a more serious issue may be at play, and professional help might be necessary.

Perform a System Restore

If none of the previous methods have resolved your keyboard issue, performing a System Restore could be your next step. This process will revert your system back to a previous point in time when the keyboard was functioning correctly.

To execute a System Restore, navigate to the ‘Start’ menu and type ‘System Restore’ into the search bar. Select ‘Create a restore point’ from the results. A new window will open; click ‘System Restore’ button. Follow the prompts and select a restore point that dates back to when your keyboard was working correctly. Click ‘Next’ and then ‘Finish’ to start the restore process.

This might take some time, and your computer will restart. If the keyboard is still malfunctioning after the restore, you may need to seek professional help. It’s important to backup any important files before initiating a system restore as this process might lead to data loss.

Clean the Keyboard

Dust and debris under the keys can sometimes cause the keyboard to malfunction or even lock up. Cleaning it carefully might resolve these issues. To clean your keyboard, first, turn off your computer and unplug the keyboard. Then, flip the keyboard upside down and gently shake it to remove any loose debris.

For a more thorough cleaning, you can use a can of compressed air to blow out any dust trapped under the keys. If the keys are removable, you can take them off and clean underneath with a soft, damp cloth.

When cleaning, be careful not to get any liquid in the keyboard as it could damage the electronic components. After cleaning, make sure the keyboard is completely dry before plugging it back in. Remember, regular maintenance can help prevent keyboard issues in the future.

Check for Windows Updates

Keeping your system updated with the latest Windows updates is crucial for the functionality and security of your computer. These updates often contain patches for bugs and improvements for issues that could be affecting your keyboard.

To check for updates, navigate to the ‘Start’ menu and type ‘Windows Update’ in the search bar. Select ‘Check for Updates’ from the results. In the new window that opens, click the ‘Check for Updates’ button. Windows will then search for the latest updates.

If any updates are found, they will be downloaded and installed automatically. For major updates, you may need to restart your computer. If a keyboard issue persists even after updating Windows, it may indicate a more serious hardware or software problem, and professional help might be needed.

Reset Your Laptop

If all else fails and your Dell laptop keyboard remains unresponsive, it might be time to resort to a more drastic measure: a factory reset. This should be your last resort as it will restore your laptop to its original settings, effectively erasing all data and installed applications.

Before proceeding, ensure that you back up all important files and data as these will not be recoverable post-reset.

Here is my quick tutorial on how to factory reset a Dell laptop with pictures.

To perform a factory reset on a Dell laptop, navigate to the ‘Start’ menu and select ‘Settings.’ From the settings menu, choose ‘Update & Security,’ then select ‘Recovery’ from the sidebar. Under ‘Reset this PC,’ click ‘Get started.’ You’ll then have the option to ‘Keep my files’ or ‘Remove everything.’ To perform a factory reset, choose ‘Remove everything.’ You’ll be prompted to confirm your choice before the reset begins.

Remember, a factory reset is a significant step. Only undertake it when you’ve exhausted all other troubleshooting methods and are confident in the backup of your data. After the reset, you’ll need to reinstall all your software and restore your files from the backup.

Contact Dell Support

If the aforementioned steps fail to restore your Dell laptop keyboard to its normal functioning state, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance from Dell’s customer support team.

Dell offers comprehensive support for its products, and its experienced technicians can provide further troubleshooting steps or arrange for a repair if necessary. To contact Dell support, visit the Dell website and navigate to the “Support” section.

Here, you can engage in a live chat with a representative or find the contact details for phone support. Keep in mind, it’s essential to have your laptop’s service tag or express service code ready before contacting support as it will expedite the process. Remember, never hesitate to seek professional help when dealing with complex hardware issues.


In summary, resolving issues with your Dell laptop keyboard doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Start with simpler solutions like cleaning the keyboard and updating drivers, and if needed, proceed to more involved steps like enabling the keyboard in BIOS or even a factory reset.

However, be mindful that a factory reset is a significant measure and should only be undertaken after exhausting all other options, and ensuring your data is safely backed up. If these methods are ineffective, don’t hesitate to utilize Dell’s extensive customer support.

The team of skilled technicians is readily available to guide you through more advanced troubleshooting steps or arrange for a repair if necessary. Above all, remember that seeking professional help is always a viable and recommended option when dealing with hardware issues beyond your expertise.

With over 12 years of experience with laptops, Grayson Uppington has delved deep into the tech world, always learning and sharing. His top pick is the Lenovo Legion Slim 5, blending performance with style. Formerly a pro gamer in CS:GO, those tournaments sharpened his skills and heightened his appreciation for laptop potential.