A Surface Laptop 3 and its keyboard.
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If the keyboard isn’t responding on your Surface Laptop, don’t worry—there’s a secret handshake that will fix it. Here’s what to do if your Surface Laptop keyboard isn’t working, whether or not the touchpad is also working.

What You Need to Know

In some cases, the Surface Laptop keyboard may stop responding entirely. We recently encountered this problem on a Surface Laptop 4, but we’ve seen reports that it can also occur on Microsoft’s other laptops, from the original Surface Laptop to the Surface Laptop 2 and 3.

On our Surface Laptop, the keyboard wasn’t working but the touchpad was. Worse yet, the problem persisted even after rebooting the Surface Laptop, which is the usual fix for strange Windows PC problems.

Our fix will still involve rebooting your laptop. If you can’t reboot right now, you can plug in an external keyboard via USB or connect a wireless keyboard via Bluetooth to type on your laptop. (You can also use the touch keyboard built into Windows.) If your touchpad isn’t working, you can connect a mouse or use the touchscreen.

Hard Reset Your Surface Laptop

The solution involves performing a hard reboot of your Surface Laptop. This is a little like pulling a desktop PC’s power cord or long-pressing an iPhone’s power button. It forces the Surface Laptop to boot from scratch.

Warning: Your laptop will immediately reboot, and you will lose any unsaved work in open programs when you use the below keyboard shortcut.

To fix the Surface Laptop keyboard, press and hold the Volume Up and Power buttons on your keyboard at the same time. (These keys are located on the top row of the keyboard.) Hold them down for 15 seconds.

Your laptop will turn off. Once it does, you can release the keys. Press the Power button again to turn it on normally. Your keyboard should now work fine—it worked on our Surface Laptop 4, and we’ve seen reports of the same happening on other Surface Laptops.

Tip: If you encounter the problem again in the future, use this shortcut once again.

It seems likely that some sort of firmware in the laptop or hardware drivers on Windows are getting stuck in a bad state, hence why a typical reboot doesn’t fix this problem but a “force shutdown” does.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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