Introduction: Fix a Keyboard Key

Picture of Fix a Keyboard Key

I found a great keyboard in our junk pile, a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard. It has a comfy layout, but there was just one problem. The N key wasn't too responsive. You had to really bang on it to get it to register.

Naturally, this wasn't going to work for regular typing, but the fix for it was easy. Here's how to do it.

Step 1: Pop Out the Key

Picture of Pop Out the Key

Use a flathead screwdriver to get the key out. Just get the tip of the screwdriver under the key and push down on the other side. With a bit of leverage, the key will pop right out.

Step 2: Get a Piece of a Straw

Picture of Get a Piece of a Straw

Cut off a little more than an inch of a clean plastic straw.

Step 3: Fold and Insert

Picture of Fold and Insert

Fold the straw in half lengthwise and insert it into the bottom of the key. It should now be sticking out quite a bit.

Step 4: Trim to Fit

Picture of Trim to Fit

Cut off the straw so that a few millimeters are sticking out. You now have an enhanced key that sticks out more and will be better at engaging the button inside the keyboard.

Step 5: Put Key Back in the Keyboard

Picture of Put Key Back in the Keyboard

On most keyboards, this is just a matter of placing the key in the right place and pushing down. You'll know when you get it right.

Test out the button and see if it's responsive now. If it's working, but it feels a little stiff, then pop the key back out, trim a tiny bit more of the straw off, and put it back in.



Ethan1023 (author)2017-02-09

EEW!! You have one of those split keyboards!

KyriakiA1 (author)2017-01-17

AWESOME! It worked perfectly for my Z key!

JoshB237 (author)2016-12-19

Amazing hack!! Thanks for this my A Key has been working horrible for the last week and this fixed it E Z

sideeffect11 (author)2016-04-13

Thanks for sharing

JohnC354 made it! (author)2016-01-05

FWIW, this hack works for me as well. My semicolon/colon key has been doing this for 2 months now. Without that key doesn't bode well with programming.


GavinD9 (author)2015-10-08

;;;;;9;lllllllllllllllll-0;llllllllllllllllllllll000000000000o;;;;;;;;;;; no p key, fix didn't work for me, time for a new keyboard...

sovereignpath (author)2014-08-12

I have the same keyboard. The C key died and no amount of prodding with a screwdriver or a straw could get it working again. It's a shame that I will have to write off the entire keyboard for one malfunctioning key, but I don't know what else to do.

ylareaux (author)sovereignpath2015-02-11

The same thing happened to me, a few months after begging and pleading that my infamously stingy work purchase one (for a believe $100 +/-) for me.

It seemed like this horrendous keyboard was dying one letter at a time. On the day that I decided to give it up, it was down at least 13 keys - of what I was aware (c, i, o, u, y, z, ←, /, *, -, insert key, delete key... goodness knows what else)!! I wish MS would see that the MS Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard is - without a doubt - a defective unit, and should be recalled.

I hope this hack works... I'm dying using a regular keyboard, and I'm too ashamed to ask my work for another one. :(

i have the exact same problem and i have 3 of these with that exact same problem only the c key doesnt work.. and the rest of the keys are fine.. i want to strangle bill gates

busa (author)2014-12-31

Just bought a new wireless keyboard and found the zero key on the number pad needed a decent push to activate. Was about to return it when I found your instructable and now it works perfectly. Thanks, you saved me a return trip to the store! 0000000000000000

lj.sy2 (author)2014-10-10

my keybo9ard i8s bro9ken so9me keys seem to9 be bro9ken.. every ti8me I* type letters u,i,o numbers co9me o9u7t

lj.sy2 (author)lj.sy22014-10-10

I* spi8ll my mi8lk, that mi8ght be the cau7se.

devinnov28 (author)2014-01-11

Thank you

rosswald (author)2013-02-27

I wouldn't recommend using the flathead screwdriver, but instead use some plastic tool. Or wrap duct tape around the screwdriver tip, because you could damage edges of the keys. Now I had 3 of those, It's a great keyboard while it lasts... The first one died within its warranty so it was replaced. On the second one I had C and Enter keys stopped working just couple of days ago, but strangely it's not mechanical, even pressing directly on the foil yields no reaction (that's how I got to this instructable btw).
In order to remove the top cover, you need to remove around 30 screws (!). It can be disassembled completely just takes patience.
And I recommend full cleaning of the keyboard (with removing all the keycaps and washing them) every six months at least. It's a tedious job but when you see the junk below the keys, it's worth it. And that junk can't be removed by vacuum cleaner.

Win Guy (author)2011-05-17

Thanks, fungusamungus, for showing how to remove a key from the board! I'm making the "SteamPunk Keyboard" and this helps tremendously!
Win Guy

Screamo (author)2010-09-26

My dad has that same keyboard

cturnr (author)2010-02-25

 i have this SAME keyboard and the I key SUX!!!!! half the time it does not think i press it. and the I key is not like the Q key, you use it all the time. 

thanks for this, I am going to try it when i get home

cturnr (author)cturnr2010-03-04

 THANK YOU!!! the I key works 100% better now!

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii i i i i i (i could do this all day now!) 

ivaneduardo747 (author)cturnr2010-05-15

I will do it for you iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

fungus amungus (author)cturnr2010-03-14


zchampine (author)2010-04-13

 I'm using that exact keyboard right now lol

Golem100 (author)2010-04-08

Great solution & instructable.

I have three of these keyboards and all but one of them work great.  The one with the problem is the one I spilled coffee on and cleaned.  All went well until I tried it out after reassembling it.  The d@#n space bar almost has to be hit with a hammer to get it to work.  I tried everything I could think of with no good results.  I'll see if this trick will work for it.

Doc Holliday (author)2010-03-14

Keyboards just get gross over time.  The PC term is "organic."

I replace mine every 15 years or so, whether they need it or not ;<)

Of course, the computers and monitors have been replaced 3-4 times in between, so I simply hoard the keyboards and mice (mouses?)  that come with them, by crickey. 

Then I stick chewing gum on the underside of the "N" key and sell 'em at garage sales.

Seriously, a new keyboard is cheaper than a pizza, and a friend probably has spares.  Recycling works,  you feel good about it, and you've put time to better uses.

LkArio (author)2010-03-02

This damn keyboard...
Some of the keys died (Enter, some of the F# keys), they just stopped working. I tried to open it, removed ALL the screws, but there is something near the spacebar that doesn't let me open it. I removed the silicon things (bad idea), and well, I won't be able to do anything until I open it. It's about 5 years old, so the warranty wasn't an option.

carbonbiskit (author)2010-03-02

lol  thank you for the tip. got the same keyboard from a yard sale for 5 bucks. same key sticking.was getting aggravated with it ,but 5 minute fix (took a few minutes to find a straw lol) and working like a charm  .nnnnnnnnnnnnn rofl thank you

Glad to hear it! It must be an issue since that key is the biggest letter key on the keyboard.

racastro62 (author)2010-02-28

I got a keyboard with the problem exactly in the same key! But it's the German langauge version. Just luck?

ths (author)2010-02-26

just call microsoft and tell them that there is key that doesnt work anymore, they will ask you to do some other step to try it (like trying on another pc, or another usb port) tell them you did it, if you still under the 3 years warranty they will send you a brand new one for free without asking you to return the old one ;p

fungus amungus (author)ths2010-02-26

So you'd rather call up Microsoft, spend half an hour on the phone, follow their steps for testing, print up a shipping label, ship it out, and wait for a week or so to get a new keyboard?

This fix takes about 2 minutes, including gathering up materials. I don't want a brand new keyboard, I just want to type right away.

Fashim (author)fungus amungus2010-02-26

Lol id fix it and get the Keyboard

getbusy21 (author)2010-02-26

I like the video!

tim_n (author)2010-02-26

I've always had trouble with that Fn key... maybe I'll replace it with something else...


Sorry.  I'll get my coat.

=SMART= (author)2010-02-25

wonder why it was in the pile

Lindie (author)2010-02-25

I can do that!  Nice and  easy!

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
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