Your keyboard is perhaps the most important input device on your Mac. It logs thousands of keystrokes every day to help you enter data into your computer. But sometimes your Mac can prevent you from typing.
This problem can manifest itself in different ways. Sometimes not all the keys respond and they just beep when you press them. Basically the keyboard freezes completely. Other times, only certain keys stop working. So let’s see what you can do if your Mac keyboard is working.
How to fix an unresponsive keyboard on a Mac?
If this issue affects an external keyboard
If your external keyboard doesn’t type anything on your Mac, follow these steps:
- Disconnect and reconnect the keyboard.
- Make sure the connector is securely plugged into the port. Then switch to another port if possible.
- Check if another external keyboard is working. Maybe your current keyboard is faulty.
If this issue affects the built-in keyboard, continue with the steps below. Try connecting an external keyboard to your Mac so that you can enter your password and log into your computer. Often, external keyboards will work even if the built-in keyboard is unresponsive. You can also use the virtual keyboard.
Check for updates
Make sure you’re running the latest version of macOS on your device. Sometimes major versions of macOS have their own issues, but Apple is usually quick to fix them. Install the latest updates and check if the problem is gone. Go to System Preferences, select Software update and check for updates.
Disable slow motion and mouse keys
If Slow Keys is turned on, you need to hold the keys longer for your Mac to recognize what you are typing.
- Click on the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
- Then go to Accessibility, and click Keyboard.
- Select click Equipment and deactivate Slow touches if the option is enabled.
- Then go back to Accessibility and select Pointer control.
- To select Alternative control methods and deactivate Mouse Keys.
Don’t forget to check your keyboard layout as well.
- Go to System Preferences, select Keyboard, then click Input sources.
- Then select Display the Input menu in the menu bar.
- Open the Input menu and check your current keyboard layout. Change it if necessary.
Remove recently installed apps
If this issue occurred after installing a new program on your Mac, launch Searcher, and go to Applications.
Then select the programs you recently installed and drag them to the trash. Remember to empty the bin to permanently remove these programs.
Delete .plist files
A number of users have resolved their keyboard issues after deleting the .plist files. Remember to back up your computer first.
- Launch Finder, then tap Command + Shift + G.
- Type ~ / Library / Preferences / in the search bar and press To go.
- Find and delete the following folders:
- com.apple.driver.AppleBluetoothMultitouch.trackpad.plist – if you are using Magic Trackpad
- com.apple.driver.AppleBluetoothMultitouch.mouse.plist – for Magic Mouse
- com.apple.driver.AppleHIDMouse.plist – for a wired USB mouse
- Restart your Mac and check the results.
Boot into Safe Mode
If you can’t relate this keyboard issue to a specific app, try starting your Mac in Safe Mode. In this way, you can strip the operating system of many unnecessary elements like system extensions, fonts, system cache files, etc. If your keyboard is fully functional in Safe Mode, it indicates that one of your programs or settings might be interfering with it. Exit Safe Mode and check if the problem is gone.
How to Enter Safe Mode on Intel Processors
- Restart your Mac and quickly hold the Shift key while your device is starting up.
- You can release the Shift key when the login window appears on the screen.
- Next, log into your Mac and you should see the Safe Start notification in the upper right corner of the screen.
How to enter safe mode on Apple Silicone MacBooks
- Restart your device.
- Then hold down the power button for about 10 seconds while the device boots.
- You can release the power button when the startup options appear on the screen.
- Select your startup disk, press the Shift key and select Continue in Safe Mode.
- You can now release the Shift key and log into your Mac.
Create a new administrator account
A number of users have suggested that creating a new administrator account might resolve this issue.
- Go to system Preferences and select Users and groups.
- Click the lock icon to access settings.
- Then select the type of account (admin).
- Enter the username and other details and press the button Create user button.
Reset NVRAM and SMC
Your Mac stores some settings in NVRAM for quick access. But sometimes your device may be unable to recover the settings. This can lead to a host of issues, including the keyboard not letting you type anything. By resetting NVRAM, you are essentially bringing your custom settings back to default.
How to reset NVRAM on Mac
- First of all, you need to shut down your computer. Then restart it and immediately press and hold these keys: Option, Order, P, and R.
- If your Mac makes a startup sound, you can release the keys after the device plays the second sound. If no startup sound is activated, release the keys after approximately 20 seconds.
- On a Mac with an Apple T2 Security Chip, you must release the keys after the Apple logo disappears for the second time.
If the keyboard problem persists, continue with the troubleshooting process and also reset the SMC.
Reset SMC on Mac computers released in 2017 or earlier
- Shut down your computer.
- Press and hold all of these keys on the left side of the keyboard: Offset + Controller + Option (old).
- Then hold down Power button. You should hold down all four keys at the same time for about 10 seconds.
- Then release them all and turn on your Mac.
Reset SMC on Apple T2 Security Chip Mac Computers
If your Mac has an Apple T2 security chip, you need to press all three buttons in this specific order: Control (left side) + Option (Alt) (left side) + Shift (right side). Remember that you need to press the Shift button on the right side of the keyboard.
Then also hold the power button and hold all four keys for about 7 seconds. Restart your computer and check the results.
Go to an Apple Authorized Repair Center
If nothing works, the only thing you can do is grab your Mac, go to an authorized repair center, and have your keyboard fixed.
If your Mac keyboard doesn’t allow you to type, check if an external keyboard is working or enable the onscreen keyboard. Then make sure the Slow Keys and Mouse options are turned off. Additionally, boot into safe mode and check the results. If the problem persists, reset NVRAM and SMC. If nothing works, have your keyboard repaired at an Apple Authorized Service Center. Well, the saga of butterfly keyboard issues on Mac seems to be endless.