How to Lock a Keyboard

Image Credit: Andrew Brookes/Cultura/GettyImages

If you live with cats or have small children interested in computers – or if you're simply a stickler for computer security – you may find yourself searching for a way to disable input from your keyboard and only your keyboard. Unfortunately, because of the way computers are built and designed to boot up, built-in methods to lock a keyboard are incredibly rare. This doesn't mean that it's impossible to make a keyboard lock for a period of time, however: it just requires more work than a single key press.

Is There a Keyboard Lock Key?

Modern keyboards, particularly those designed for laptops, feature a variety of function keys that allow for quick and simple control of the computer's functions. At this point, the majority of users are familiar with using their keyboards to manage speaker volume and screen brightness, along with features like keyboard backlighting and airplane mode. However, among all these function keys, there is rarely if ever a key available to lock the keyboard. In part, this is because a keyboard lock key could only be used once in most computer wiring environments, but it goes beyond that: because keyboards are used as the default method of interacting with computer systems, they're enabled via the BIOS differently than components like computer mice, trackpads, or speakers. Having the ability to disable the keyboard with a single key could lead to a number of system issues. This makes the task of disabling keyboard input temporarily slightly more difficult.

Lock Screens and Desktop Solutions

Depending on your needs, you may be able to secure your computer without having to disable the keyboard itself. For example, though it has nothing to do with the keyboard itself, if you wish to deny access to your computer you can lock it with a simple keyboard command. On Windows machines, this can be done by holding the Windows key and pressing "L" on the keyboard. On an Apple computer, press the combination of "Control," "Shift," and the "Power" button. From the Mac OS X or Windows 10 lock screen, a password will be required to do anything besides connecting to a WiFi network or powering the computer on or off. In the same vein, when working with desktop computers it is also possible to disable the keyboard by unplugging or disconnecting the keyboard from the computer. This may be inconvenient, but it will disable keyboard input. If you're working with a laptop or if these solutions aren't adequate, solutions can be found in the form of downloadable programs.

Locking Keyboards with Installed Programs

While you generally cannot disable the keyboard on a hardware level, various programs exist to disable the computer's ability to read keyboard inputs on a software level. Depending on whether your system uses a Mac, Windows, or Linux operating system, programs like Karabiner, Keyboard Locker, and Toddler Keys can be used to give users the ability to enable or disable keyboard and/or mouse inputs. Install your program of choice and follow its instructions: you will then be able to use a keyboard unlock shortcut of your choice to disable and enable the keyboard as desired. Note however, that operating system updates may break these programs – and that installing programs of this nature can carry some degree of risk, particularly if you select options that open the programs on start-up.

references