My Laptop Keyboard Is Typing the Wrong Keys

If your laptop keyboard types the wrong keys, you might be having a keyboard layout problem that's simple to fix, or a more serious mechanical problem with your keyboard. Performing simple tests will help you figure out why your laptop is responding as if you pressed a different key and determine the best fix for your keyboard.

Man typing on laptop keyboard
Problems with your keyboard make it hard to type.
credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

Number Lock

Most laptop keyboards -- unless you have a laptop with a very wide screen -- do not have a separate number pad like desktop keyboards have. Instead, some of the letter keys on the right site of the keyboard double as the number pad. When you press the "Num Lock" key, usually located in the upper right part of your laptop keyboard, the keys with small numbers written on them will type numbers when you press them, rather than the letters they usually type. It's easy to accidentally press "Num Lock" and not realize what's going on. You can fix this by pressing "Num Lock" again. The "Num Lock" light, located on your laptop above your keyboard, should turn off, and the keys should type normally again.

Keyboard Layout

Most laptops in the U.S. have a standard QWERTY keyboard layout. However, there are other ways to arrange the keys on a keyboard, including the Dvorak layout for faster typing or layouts with special characters for different languages. If your laptop keyboard isn't typing the right keys, you may have inadvertently changed your keyboard layout so that your laptop's keyboard map doesn't match the letters on your keys. To fix this problem, click the "Start" button, type "intl.cpl" (without quotation marks) in the Search box and press "Enter." Click "Change Keyboards" on the Keyboards and Language tab. Select the right keyboard layout, then click "View Layout" to make sure it matches your physical keyboard.


Dust, dirt or liquid damage can make your keyboard respond incorrectly when you type. To clean your keyboard of dust or dirt, spray between the keys with compressed air or carefully hold the brush attachment of a vacuum several inches above the keyboard. If sugary drinks or other sticky spills got under the keys, carefully pry off the keys and clean under them with a moistened cotton ball. Laptop keys can be tricky to snap back on, so consult your laptop's manual for help.

External Keyboard Tests

If the solutions don't work, you may be having an issue with the inner workings of your laptop keyboard. You can test this by plugging an external USB keyboard into your computer. Open a text editor, such as Notepad, and type on the external keyboard to see if the keys type correctly. If they do, you may be having a mechanical problem with your laptop keyboard. Use an external keyboard for your typing until you can replace the keyboard on the laptop.