Escape Key Not Working on Mac? (Here’s Why)


When you’re using your Mac computer, whether it be for work, fun, or just out of boredom, the last thing you want to have to deal with is things not working out of nowhere.

Any number of things can occur that cause your Mac computer to appear to not be working properly, including your keyboard having issues. One problem that some people report is their escape key not working, but why does that happen?

There are a few reasons this can occur. Most commonly, this can be an issue with your Siri app, issues with an extension, third-party-app or a file, or your Software needs to be updated, or your key may be damaged.

We’ll help you first diagnose the issue within a few minutes to check whether this is a hardware issue, a software issue, or it may be an even more simple fix. Let’s get right into it!

How To Fix Escape Key Not Working on Mac?

The first thing you want to do is run a few tests to give us an idea of whether this is a hardware issue, a software issue, an issue with an App or extension…etc.

First, we’ll need to see if it’s a hardware issue. To do this you’ll need to use an external keyboard. Or, if you’re in a Mac instead of a Macbook, simply try a different keyboard. If the escape button doesn’t work on both keyboards, then you can rule it out as a hardware issue.

Next, we’ll see if the cause can be from an external app or software that you may be using. To check if this is the issue, you will need to start your Mac on Safe mode.

Starting your Mac on safe mode simply allows your computer to start with only the files required to run the PC. Meaning any third-party -extensions, apps….etc. Won’t run during Safe mode.

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The process for starting your Mac on safe mode varies depending on what mac, whether you own a Mac with an Apple Silicon or an Intel-based Mac. To check which one your own, go to the Apple icon on your Mac and Click on About This Mac. On the Overview Tab, check if your Mac displays the item “Processor” or “Chip” if it displays “Chip,” then you own an Apple Silicon Mac. If it displays “Processor,” you own an Intel-based Mac.

To Start Safe Mode With Apple Silicon-based Macs:

  • Select the Apple Icon on your computer > Select Shut Down
  • Once your computer completely shuts down, Press and hold the power button until you see “Loading Startup Options.”
  • Select a volume
  • Now press and hold the shift key and click Continue in Safe Mode
  • your computer will automatically restart, and will you should see “Safe Boot Displayed” display on Safe Boot.

Now check to see if your ESC key is working.

If it is working, then, this means that a file, extension, or third-party app is most likely causing the issue.

To Start Safe Mode With Intel-based Mac’s

  • Restart or shut off, then turn on your Mac
  • While it turns on, immediately press & Hold the shift Key until you see a login window
  • You may be asked to log in again. Then you should see “Safe Boot” displayed

Now check to see if your ESC key works.

If it is working, then, this means that a file, extension, or third-party app is most likely causing the issue.

The Siri App May be causing the Issue

One of the most common reasons this issue occurs, believe it or not, is because of your Siri App. You can test this by going to your Activity Monitor. To find your Activity monitor click the search icon on the top right corner of your screen, and type “Activity Monitor”, click on it, and now type in “Siri” on the search bar”. Now select Siri, and on top, you will see an (X) icon that says. “stop” when you hover over it, click that and test out your escape key.

Your Mac may need to be updated

Check whether your Mac is in need of an update. To do this, tap the Apple Icon in the top-right corner, and then select System Preferences. Here, select Software Update. If there is an update available, click either Update Now or Upgrade Now. Afterward, follow the required steps to complete the update, and then restart your Mac device.

The program you are using does not have an escape key function

Not all programs require the use of the escape key, and some may not even have a function assigned to the escape key in the first place.

Thus, when you attempt to use the escape key, nothing will happen. One of the simplest ways to see if this is the case is to try opening other programs, including programs where you know that the escape key has a function.

If the escape key works in some programs and not others, the problem is likely not going to be related to the keyboard at all.

Use the accessibility keyboard on Mac

This option is not a very long-term one, but it at least helps you use the escape key until you can get your keyboard fixed.

Not only that, but this can help you tell whether there is a problem with the software you are trying to use the escape key with.

It could even be the case that the escape key does not function in the way you expect it to in a certain program.

Either the program has a different function for the escape key than normal, or the escape key simply does not have a function. If this isn’t verifiable, however, you can, at the very least, use it as a stopgap.

In order to activate the accessibility keyboard, click on the Apple Menu icon, and then select System Preferences. From here, select Accessibility, followed by Keyboard and then Viewer. Finally, enable the Accessibility Keyboard feature.

Your Mac’s keyboard may be damaged

There are two ways that your keyboard may be damaged. The first is if the individual key, possibly even surrounding keys, are damaged in some ways.

This damage may manifest in a variety of ways, including blunt-force impact and spillage. The damage may not cause the key or keys to work some or none of the time. For instance, you may need to press hard on the escape key in order for it to work properly.

The problem may also worsen over time, so addressing the issue right away will likely be in your best interest.

While a non-functional escape key may be caused by damage to that key directly, it may also indicate that the keyboard itself is damaged.

To verify whether this is the case, double-check whether any other keys are unable to function.

If this is the case, you should next check to see that the cord is attached to both the keyboard and the Mac itself. If the cord appears to be attached and in working order, the keyboard itself may be in need of repair.

How do you fix or replace a Mac keyboard?

Sometimes, the issue with a keyboard can be due to a damaged keycap. In this case, you can either order an official replacement or order a custom keycap.

Not all keycaps are the same, however, so when ordering this replacement, make sure that you get the right one.

Otherwise, the keycap will not actually fit, and the escape key will be as non-functional as it was previously. However, the problem may be something deeper, such as the mechanism becoming damaged. If this is the case, replacement will require a little more effort.

One of the best ways to get it repaired is to get in contact with Apple (assuming it’s an Apple keyboard), which – if it is within the warranty period – can help get it repaired or replaced for free.

If it is outside of warranty, however, your best option may be to consider a new keyboard altogether.

How do you fix or replace a keyboard on a MacBook?

While fixing or replacing a keyboard for your Mac is a simple process comparatively, the same cannot be said for a MacBook.

Replacing the keyboard would require you to have the keyboard removed from the MacBook entirely. You would either need to work with Apple, work with a third-party repair service, or replace the keyboard yourself. This is not at all an easy process, however.

Can you use a non-Mac keyboard on a Mac computer?

If your Mac keyboard isn’t working and you are desperate to use a replacement keyboard, the good news is that you have a lot of options available.

For example, if you have a keyboard that was designed for Windows computers, you will be able to use it in all likelihood. So long as this keyboard connects via USB or Bluetooth, anyway. We cannot guarantee that every keyboard will work, but you are a lot more likely to find one that works than one that does not.

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