How to Fix MacBook Keyboard not Working on Startup 

The MacBook, whether it be the regular model, the Air, or the Pro, is counted as a favorite by many people, Apple superfans or otherwise. It is a decently powerful laptop, and is considered good value. Despite the quality of the MacBook, however, there are sometimes issues that may pop up with the device. One part of the MacBook, the keyboard, is one of the most valuable parts, so if it is acting up, it can be a serious issue. But how do you fix the MacBook keyboard not working on startup?

How to Fix MacBook Keyboard not Working on Startup

There are a number of different reasons why your MacBook’s keyboard may not be working on startup, with some of them being more difficult to address than others.

Make sure that the keyboard settings are appropriate

One possibility is that you have your keyboard set to a different keyboard layout setting. To see if this is the case, click the Apple Menu, select System Preferences, and then select Keyboard. Here, you will see an option for Input Sources. Select that, and then select Show Input menu in menu bar. Finally, open the Input menu, and select the layout that is appropriate for both your region and language.

Disable Slow Keys

The Slow Keys feature is meant to make it take longer for each key press, which may make you think the keyboard is not working. To turn it off, open the Apple Menu, select System Preferences, and then select Accessibility. From here, select Keyboard, then Hardware, and if Slow Keys is enabled, disable it.

Clean the keyboard

Cleaning the keyboard may be more or less difficult depending on what exactly is affecting the keyboard. For example, dust and debris can gather up after a period of time, and may cause the keys to have difficulties pressing down. One of the best ways to fix this is to use canned air with a straw attachment to blow the dust and debris out.

When doing this, keep the MacBook’s base at a 75-degree angle with the surface it is on. This will help the dust and debris be dislodged more easily. The most effective way to blow the compressed air is to go in left-to-right, top-to-bottom motions. Next, rotate the laptop so that the right side is facing down at a 75-degree angle and repeat the motions. Finally, have the left side facing down at a 75-degree angle and repeat the motions. This ensures that you can clean your keyboard as thoroughly as possible.

However, if you cannot get all of it out, it may be worthwhile to take the affected keys off to clean under the keys more thoroughly. There are key removal tools that make the process easier, as you could potentially crack a nail or damage a key if you try to pry it off. Worse, the part attached to the MacBook itself could become damaged. However, it is not impossible to do it this way, so if you do not have a key removal tool, you can possibly get away with taking it off with your fingers. Just take caution when you do.

If there is anything sticky under the keys, you may need to use more than just some canned air or a dry cloth. For this step, make sure that the laptop is powered off, and get some rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is one of the best ways to clean off fluids or sticky substances, mainly due to the fact that it evaporates relatively quickly. You can use a q-tip as well as a lint-free cloth to address the problematic substance. Nevertheless, be conservative about how much you use.

Charge the MacBook

While this is not typical, if your MacBook has very low battery life, your keyboard may not respond correctly. To address this, simply plug your MacBook into its power cable.

Update your MacBook

If your MacBook is not updated to the latest version, certain devices may not work properly with the MacBook. To check to see if the MacBook is out of date, click on the Apple icon in the top-right corner of the screen, and then select System Preferences. Click Software Update, and if there is a new update, it will be downloaded to your MacBook.

Address any software issues

Another common reason your MacBook may be experiencing issues is if a software issue is preventing the keyboard from working properly. One thing that can be done if you believe that the keyboard issue is actually a software issue is to remove apps you have downloaded recently. It becomes easier to determine which app or apps may be causing the problem if you can identify when the keyboard issue began happening. After uninstalling the apps that could affect this, try restarting your MacBook to see if the problem persists. If you want to be careful not to needlessly uninstall apps that are not causing the problem.

What do I do if my MacBook Touch Bar is not working?

Another part of the keyboard is the touch bar built into your MacBook, which is used as an alternative to a traditional mouse. To fix this issue, open the Terminal by navigating to Finder. First select Applications, and then select Utilities. Once the Terminal is opened, type sudo pkill TouchBarServer; and then press Enter. Next, type sudo killall “ControlStrip”; and then press Enter. When prompted, enter your password, and the Touch Bar will be restarted.

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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