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Microsoft Surface Tablet Keyboard Not Working (How to Fix)

There are two different types of tablets, those without an attached keyboard, and those that have a keyboard, where the touchscreen can be rotated, and/or detached from the keyboard. The main advantage of a keyboard is that many people find them easier to type on because it has a tactile response rather than the touchscreen keyboard. In this article, I will cover what to do to fix it when either the touchscreen keyboard or tactile keyboard is not working on a tablet.

In general, first start by doing a soft reset of your tablet by turning it on and off again. For tablets with a detachable keyboard unplug the keyboard and plug it back in again, at the same time inspect the connectors to ensure they are dirty or corroded. After that do the steps below.

Black tablet on the table

In total there are 7 troubleshooting steps you should do when the keyboard on your tablet is not working. After you do all of them there is a hardware fault, and you need to have your tablet repaired or replaced. Step by step instructions for each of these troubleshooting steps are explained below, as well as, specific troubleshooting steps for the main tablet brands such as HP, Lenovo, and Dell.

Fixing Microsoft Surface Tablet Keyboard When It’s Not Working

Black tablet on the table

Microsoft tablets are very popular, and they have a physical keyboard that can be removed so that it’s a touchscreen only tablet. When the touchscreen only keyboard or the tactile keyboard stops working here is what you should try to get it working again.

In general, first open the Device Manager and disable and then enable the keyboard again. Then open the Accessibility Settings and turn on sticky keys and filter keys and then turn it off again. After that enter the BIOS and if the keyboard still doesn’t work it means it’s faulty.

Refer to this article from Microsoft where they show how to enter the BIOS on a Microsoft Surface. If the keyboard isn’t working from the BIOS contact Microsoft support.

7 Reasons Why Your Microsoft Surface Tablet Keyboard Is Not Working

Black tablet on the table

There are quite a few reasons why the tablet on a keyboard is not working. To fix it, it’s a matter of trying each of the troubleshooting steps one by one until it starts working again. Here are all the reasons followed by info about each of them and how to troubleshoot each issue.

Overall, there is a glitch with the operating system, the keyboard drivers have crashed, the connectors between the screen and keyboard are dirty, the touchscreen keyboard is disabled, the operating system is out of date or has a major glitch, or an internal component has failed.

I’ve ordered them starting with the most likely to be the issue, and easiest to fix.

1. A glitch with one of the apps or the operating system

Operating systems and apps are written in computer code. Before these are released for use they are tested to ensure there are next to no bugs with them. But, not all bugs can be caught because they can occur due to a range of factors.

When a glitch occurs your tablet can look like it’s working normally, however, certain functionality and components such as the keyboard can stop working. To identify if this is the issue you should do a soft reset on your tablet. Doing so does differ based on the brand of tablet you have but typically you turn it off using the power button and turn it on again.

2. The keyboard drivers have crashed (tactile keyboard only)

This step only applies if your tablet has a physical keyboard. When the software for your keyboard – called the keyboard drivers have crashed, it will cause the keyboard on a tablet to stop working. Unplugging the keyboard and plugging it in again will restart the drivers.

Unplugging the keyboard is typically done by disconnecting it from where it’s connected to the screen. But, if you’ve never done it before then it’s best to refer to the instructions in your owner’s manual, or look for a video on how to do it on Youtube. After that plug your keyboard back in.

5. The operating system has an update that has not been installed

Operating system updates also update the drivers for different components like the keyboard, mouse, and graphics card. If the operating system on your tablet has not been updated for some time, then apps or components like the keyboard can stop working. Or, the software will crash every now and then, and will cause the keyboard to stop working.

This step is an easy fix. Simply go into the settings on your tablet and check for updates to the operating system. If there are any available then install them.

3. The keyboard connectors are dirty or it’s not connected properly

This only applies if your tablet has a physical keyboard. Virtually all tablets clip into the screen and have a small metal connector on both sides. These connectors can get dirty with dust, or develop a small amount of corrosion.

Unplug your keyboard and inspect the connectors to see if you can see any dust or corrosion. The ideal cleaner to use to clean them is rubbing alcohol. However, for corrosion any type of vinegar works very well.

4. The touchscreen keyboard is disabled

This step only applies if the touchscreen keyboard on your tablet is not showing or working.

You may have accidentally changed a setting that disabled the touchscreen keyboard. Or, there was a minor glitch with the touchscreen keyboard which causes it not to show or open.

Disabling and re-enabling the touchscreen keyboard can reset it and get working again. Windows tablets are by far the most common, so I’ll cover the instructions here. If your tablet is on ChromeOS, Android, or MacOS, then you should look up the instructions for how to disable and enable the touchscreen keyboard for that operating system on Google or Youtube.

For Windows click on the speech bubble icon in the bottom right hand side of the task bar at the very bottom right of the screen and select ‘tablet mode’. Ensure this is turned on. Then right click on an empty space on the task bar at the very bottom of the screen.

And select ‘show touchscreen keyboard’. The touchscreen keyboard should then show up. If this was already enabled then disable tablet mode, and the touchscreen keyboard using the same method above. And then enable it again.

6. A major glitch with the operating system or an app

There can be a major glitch with the way the operating system or an app was installed. And even if you update it and restart it still won’t work properly. Therefore, you need to do a factory data reset to return it to how it was when it was brand new.

7. An internal component has failed

Hardware components can fail, for example a wire can burn out or come loose. Contact your tablet manufacturer to have it repaired or replaced.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on 2023-02-09.

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