A key fell off the keyboard. Fixing the problem.

posted in: Keyboard | 1,692

One or more keys fell off the laptop keyboard and you are not sure how to put them back? Don’t worry, most likely you can fix the keyboard and it’s not necessary to buy a new one. There is no universal repair guide because all keyboards are different. Here’s what I usually do in this case.

Situation 1. The key cap and key retainer fell off the keyboard and you cannot figure out how to assemble them back.

Laptop key fell off

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Carefully remove the cap from any other working key so the key retainer stays connected to the keyboard.

Remove key cap

Take a closer look at the key retainer, it’s connected to the keyboard at four different points.

Assemble the key

Assemble the disconnected retainer the same way as one on the keyboard and put it back in place.

Install the key

Put the key cap on the retainer and snap the cap back in place.

Snap key cap

Situation 2. The key fell off the keyboard and you lost the cap or the retainer. In this case you can purchase a single key on the internet, just search for it. (Search examples: “Dell keyboard key”, “Toshiba keyboard key”, “HP keyboard key”, etc… )
After you found a new key, put it back in place the same way as I described in the situation 1.

Installing the space bar key.

The space bar key is connected to the keyboard a little bit differently then any other key.

Space bar key fell off

There is a metal retainer connected to the space bar key (on some keyboard models). Separate the retainer from the space bar key with a flat head screwdriver.

Remove metal retainer

Install the retainer back in place as it shown on the picture. You have to engage the retainer with the small hooks on the keyboard.

Connect retainer to keyboard

Put the space bar key back in place and gently press on it with fingers until it snaps back in place.

Connect space bar

That’s it. The space bar key is installed back in place and should work as before.

Here’s another technique you can use to fix a broken keyboard key.

As you see on the picture below the keyboard is missing the U key. The key cap, retainer and even silicone membrane were lost. Let’s see if it’s possible to temporarily fix the U key without buying any spare parts.

Personally, I cannot use keyboard without U key but I can live without a key located on the side from the right ALT – the “Right clicker” key. In the following guide I will remove one key I never use and install it in the place of missing U.

Keyboard missing one key

Carefully remove the key cap with your fingers.

Remove key cap

Remove the retainer. The retainer has two pieces connected to each other. If one piece got disconnected from the other, connect them back together.

Remove key retainer

The silicon membrane is glued to the keyboard. Very very slowly separate the membrane from the keyboard with a sharp knife. While creating this disassembly guide I damaged one membrane because I wasn’t careful enough.
Again, you have to be very careful removing the membrane.
If you damage the membrane you’ll end up with two broken keys instead of just one.

Key membrane

The silicon membrane has been removed.

Key membrane removed

Now apply some superglue on the bottom edge of the membrane, just enough to keep the membrane in the place.

Apply super glue

Carefully place the membrane in the center of the U. Make sure the membrane is positioned correctly. Wait until the glue cures.

Install key membrane

Install the retainer.

Install key retainer

Position the key cap above the retainer. Gently press on the key cap until it clips in and connects to the retainer.

Position key cap

Now you can use the U key again.

Keyboard is fixed

Troubleshooting. Why the key will not clip on.


Turn the key upside down and take a closer look at the locking clips. It’s possible that one of the clips is damaged and because of that the key will not clip on the retainer. If that’s the case, you’ll have to purchase a new key.

On the next picture you can see that one of the clips is missing, it’s broken. This key will not stay connected to the retainer either. If that’s the case, you’ll have to purchase a new key.

It’s possible that the key is fine, but the retainer itself is broken. On the next picture you can see that one of the tips is missing on the retainer. The left tip is OK, but the right one is missing. If that’s the case, you’ll have to purchase a new retainer.

Here’s one more picture. In this case two parts of the retainer will not stay connected to each other. It happens because one of the tips is broken. The left tip is OK, but the right one is missing. If that’s the case, you’ll have to purchase a new retainer.

1,692 Responses

  1. Thank you VERY much for your instructions! I had a key come off about a year ago. I would just snap it back, but it never quite sat right and would eventually fall off again. On a whim, I decided I’d Google to see if there was something I was missing. The retainer always remained on the key. After seeing the pictures here, I removed the retainer from the key instead of trying to attach it at the same time as the key. This allowed the rubber cone to sit correctly for the first time in a year! Thank you!

  2. Thanks for the advice to take off another key, that helped incredibly, because I understood how it worked and provided a model; the “c” on my wife’s laptop works again!

  3. Caroline

    Hi! How do I replace the space bar key?? The key retainers are both stuck onto the space key.

  4. I tried to go to the website you have given me to buy a key that has broken. And that link is not working, could you please tell me where I can find a single key. I have searched Google and it seems like I cannot find any results at all. I would really appreciate it if you could help me with this.

  5. Ling,

    How to unsnap and snap the cap please?!

    You hold the key cap by the edges with your fingers and start carefully lifting it up. Try lifting up one side of the key first. I cannot explain how much force you have to use because you have to feel it.
    Installing the key cap is much easier. You just position the cap the way it should be and then press on the cap until it snaps in (assuming that the key or holders are not damaged).

  6. Brendan03,

    My laptop froze and I had to unplug it to turn it off, when I turned it back on, It did nothing, at all.

    If I understand right, when you turn on the computer the screen stays black and you get no image at all. If that’s the case, a new USB floppy drive will not help because you will not be able to boot from it. The BIOS is corrupted and you’ll have to replace the motherboard. I don’t know any other way to get it fixed.

  7. Brendan03

    Hi, I know this is irrelevant but I couldn’t seem to find a contact anywhere else on the site – I own a Toshiba PSM53A (M50 series) Laptop and I recently started the process of flashing my bios and before I even started, My laptop froze and I had to unplug it to turn it off, when I turned it back on, It did nothing, at all.

    Now I’m on a quest to find out if I can fix it, I’ve tried using a USB Flash card reader with the correct bios image on it as well as a CDRW with the image on it, My next option is to go and buy a USB Floppy Drive but I don’t want to spend this money until I can be sure it will work…

    I’d really appreciate any information on this matter, Thanks

  8. How to unsnap and snap the cap please?!

  9. owh… what is the virus in your laptop? i just use avg antivirus.

  10. my laptop very slow. because of virus . which antivirus is better now iam using macfee

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