Keyboard Won’t Light Up [Try This First] | Streamers Playbook (2023)

From backlit keys that won’t light up to RGB keyboards that won’t glow, it can be frustrating when your keyboard lights aren’t working.

In this article, I’ll go over the most common fixes for a keyboard that won’t light up.

Fix #1: Check Your Function And Brightness Keys

Many laptops actually have a button designated for key brightness and for toggling your keyboard’s backlighting on/off.

For example, my Surface Laptop has a key with a backlit icon that, when pressed, cycles through 4 settings for my keyboard’s backlighting–off, low, medium, and bright.

As obvious as it sounds, now is also a good time to double check that your keyboard should light up. If you are using an external keyboard, do a quick Google search of the model to make sure that it’s a backlit keyboard.

If you know it should light up as you’ve seen it light up before, then your keyboard most definitely has a brightness key somewhere.

Usually, the keyboard backlight key is located at the top of the keyboard, either integrated with your F-keys or as a standalone button. Sometimes, the backlight key is integrated with your spacebar.

The key’s symbol will probably look like a Sun or some kind of lightbulb.

If you are using a regular (non-gaming) keyboard, then take a look at the F keys for a key brightness icon (Sun, bulb, etc).

If you have a laptop, check the F keys themselves. They may have a brightness icon along with the F number (ie F10 + a sun icon).

If this is the case, hold the FN button and press the F key with the brightness icon.

If you are on a laptop, your Screen Brightness settings may also be directly related to your keyboard brightness. So turning up your screen brightness may make your keyboard light up.

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Take a hard look all over your keyboard. If you find a keyboard brightness key, that’s good! If not, then double check that the keyboard can light up.

If it can, but pressing the keyboard backlight key has no effect, then there are some other things we can try.

Fix #2: Try Another USB Port And A New Computer

If your keyboard should light up but lacks a key for controlling the keyboard brightness, then you should try another computer if at all possible.

I know not everyone has an extra computer laying around, but if you do it can actually be a huge help. If you plug your keyboard into another computer, a few things might happen:

  • Your keyboard may install drivers on that computer that it didn’t on yours for some reason
  • The other computer may not have extra programs interfering with your keyboard’s software
  • Your USB port may have a poor connection with your keyboard so it is unable to send / receive the signal for the brightness

Usually all of the logic and information for your keyboard’s brightness will be handled on the keyboard itself, so it’s not likely that your USB port will be the problem.

If it was the problem, then your keyboard probably just wouldn’t work. However, this isn’t always the case, and especially with gaming keyboards and other external keyboards, installed software may control the backlight.

In this case, the USB port will be very important, so you should try as many as possible. If you have a USB 3.0 (blue port), then make sure you plug your keyboard into it.

If you try all of your USB ports and your keyboard’s backlight still doesn’t come on, then try to get your hands on another computer. Maybe a friend’s, coworker’s, old computer, etc.

You don’t even need to plug in a monitor if you have an old tower laying around. Just plug the keyboard in and turn the computer on to see if it works.

If your keyboard lights up with a different computer, but not your own, then it is likely a driver issue and you can try updating your keyboard’s drivers (covered further down).

You can also try starting your computer in Safe Mode (also covered further down), which will ensure that no other program is interfering with your keyboard’s software.

Fix #3: Windows Keyboard Settings

Depending on your keyboard/setup, there may actually be settings for your keyboard in Windows itself. This is more likely to be the case if you are on a laptop, but it’s worth a check if you’re on a desktop PC.

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  • On Windows 10+, press Windows Key + X to open up a list of buttons in the bottom-left corner
  • Search for keyboard settings here, or click “Settings”
  • If you clicked “Settings”, search for Keyboard in the search bar at the top and look for keyboard brightness or keyboard settings
  • Adjust the brightness from keyboard settings if you find the option
  • Not every computer will have keyboard settings like this. In fact, if you’re on a desktop it’s unlikely that you will have these settings. If you’re on a laptop though, there’s a much better chance of them appearing.

If you’re on a Mac laptop or desktop, your hot keys are going to be different. There still isn’t a huge likelihood that your keyboard settings will be in the operating system.

It doesn’t hurt to check though, so I recommend opening your search bar and searching for “Keyboard” just like the Windows users did.

If something pops up, great! Otherwise, we’re going to have to play with the Power Settings.

Fix #4: Power Settings

If you’ve plugged your laptop in and the keyboard lit up, but it doesn’t light up when it isn’t plugged in then we have to check out the Power settings.

Even if your keyboard doesn’t light up at all, this may still fix the issue if your computer is in power saving mode for whatever reason. To change your power settings (in Windows):

  • Press Start (Aka Windows Key or Bottom Left Windows icon)
  • Type “Settings” and click the blue gear icon that says “Settings”
  • On the left side, look for “System” then look for “Power & battery”
  • Change your Power Mode to something that is not “Power Saving”

Believe it or not, your Power Settings may actually play a huge role in your Keyboard’s brightness.

This is especially true if you have a Windows or Mac laptop because they typically try to conserve power as optimally as possible.

The keyboard lighting is usually the first thing to go when a laptop switches into power saving mode.

If you are on a laptop, I recommend plugging it into a charger. This may immediately fix your issue and make your keyboard light up.

If this does happen, then this means your laptop switches to a power saving mode when it isn’t plugged in. The good news is that you can probably change these settings or even turn off power saving mode.

Now is also a good chance to mess with your screen brightness before we dive into the settings. Try turning your screen brightness up / down.

Your keyboard’s light may be directly tied to your screen’s brightness. If you turn your brightness down, your keyboard’s light may shut off completely. This is common in Macs and Windows laptops alike.

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5. Update Keyboard Drivers

Drivers are one of the main reasons for peripherals not functioning correctly.

When you initially plugged in your keyboard, a dialog box probably popped up in the bottom right corner informing you that drivers were being installed.

Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen and in some cases we have to go through and manually update them. To update your keyboard’s drivers (Windows):

  • Press Start (Windows Key or bottom left Windows icon)
  • Type in “Device manager” and select Device Manager
  • Click the arrow next to “Keyboards” and find your Keyboard in the list
  • Right Click on your Keyboard and click “Update driver”
  • If you do not see your Keyboard under “Keyboards”, check under “Universal Serial Bus controllers”
  • Click “Search Automatically for drivers”

If you get a pop up saying the best driver for your device is already found, then your drivers are likely up to date.

You can manually download the drivers from your Keyboard’s manufacturer’s website, but this is usually a lot of work and not worth the effort.

It can also be dangerous if you are not careful, as there are many scam websites pretending to have drivers.

Only download drivers from official manufacturer websites.

Fix #6: The Keyboard Troubleshooter

If you’ve tried to update your keyboard’s drivers, or you are sure that they’re not the answer, the Troubleshooter is up next.

Usually the Windows Troubleshooter won’t do much, but every now and then it can suss out the issue. To run the Troubleshooter on your keyboard:

  • Press the Windows Key or open up the start menu with the bottom left Windows Icon and search “Settings”. Alternatively press Windows Key + i
  • Click Update & Security
  • On the left side click “Troubleshoot”
  • Click the blue text saying “Additional troubleshooters”
  • Scroll down to “Find and fix other problems” and click on Keyboard
  • Click “Run the Troubleshooter”

If a dialog box pops up saying that no updates were necessary then the Troubleshooting didn’t work and likely isn’t the answer to your problem.

Troubleshooting will probably just look for any extra drivers online, but occasionally it will find something wrong and fix it. However, don’t be too disappointed if it doesn’t. There’s one last thing we can try.

Fix #7: Restart Your Computer In Safe Mode

Restarting your computer in Safe Mode is the best way to check whether other programs are interfering with your Keyboard’s software.

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Some programs (games, tools, etc) may change the settings of your keyboard and turn off its backlight. This can be on purpose or even due to bugs. To restart your computer in safe mode (on Windows 10):

  • Click the Windows icon in the bottom left corner or press your Windows Key
  • Hold Shift and click on the Power Icon
  • Select “Restart”
  • Your computer will restart and then a blue screen will pop up
  • Select “Troubleshoot” then “Advanced Options”
  • Click “Startup” then select “Restart”
  • When your computer comes back on, there will be a list of numbers. Press the number that enables Safe Mode (This is usually 4)

You will now be in Safe Mode and can check whether your keyboard lights up. Restart your computer the normal way in order to get back into regular, non-safe mode Windows

Safe Mode is just a way to start Windows with nothing but the basics. This will make sure applications installed on your PC are not interfering with your keyboard’s drivers / software.

If you don’t have Windows 10, then you may have to research how to start it in Safe Mode. Every modern Windows PC will be able to start in Safe Mode and it’s usually quite easy.

Can Keyboard Lights Burn Out?

Keyboard lights can burn out but it takes a very long time and does not happen very often. It’s very unlikely for every light in a keyboard to burn out, but for keyboards with individual LED lights under each key, there is a good chance that one key will burn out eventually but not the whole keyboard.

Most backlit keyboards are lit up by many individual LED lights. This is true whether the keyboard is RGB or just plain white.

LEDs have a pretty low failure rate, and they last a long time. They last much longer than conventional light bulbs, but they still do not last forever.

This means that eventually, yes your keyboard lights will burn out and die.

What is much more common than an entire keyboard burning out, though, is individual keys burning out randomly. It’s pretty common to see keyboards with random burnt out keys.

So while the entire keyboard isn’t likely to go dark, you may notice one or two keys that randomly stop lighting up like they used to.

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FAQs

How do you fix your keyboard when it wont light up? ›

Make sure the Keyboard backlit option is enabled in the BIOS. With the computer powered off, press the power button. Immediately start pressing the F2 key once per second (if the computer boots into Windows, shut down the computer and try again).

How do I get my keyboard to light up when typing? ›

Also, depending on your computer model, your PC may be configured to control the backlit keyboard via the F9 or F11 button rather than the F5 button. Practice the same simultaneous Fn + F11 operation to turn on a backlight keyboard light.

Why won t my Mac keyboard light up? ›

Manually adjust keyboard backlighting or turn it off

On the keyboard, press the increase brightness key or the decrease brightness key . To turn backlighting off, keep pressing. . In the Touch Bar, expand the Control Strip, then tap the increase brightness button or the decrease brightness button .

How do I turn on my backlit keyboard without the Fn key? ›

Here's how to turn on or adjust a Windows keyboard light using Mobility settings:
  1. Press Windows Key + X and click Mobility Center.
  2. Locate the Keyboard Brightness setting. ...
  3. Click the slider and drag it to the right.
9 Nov 2021

How do I turn my keyboard light on manually? ›

This could be a simple F5, F9, or F11 key press, or a dual-action Fn + F5, F9, or F11 key press.

How do I reset my keyboard light? ›

With the keyboard turned off, hold down the ESC key. While holding down the ESC key, turn on your keyboard. After about 5 seconds, release the ESC key. You will see the keyboard lighting flash if the reset is successful.

How do I enable keyboard? ›

Go to Start , then select Settings > Accessibility > Keyboard, and turn on the On-Screen Keyboard toggle. A keyboard that can be used to move around the screen and enter text will appear on the screen. The keyboard will remain on the screen until you close it.

Why is my keyboard brightness locked Mac? ›

If you're trying to light up the keyboard on your Mac or turn up the level and get a message or logo saying keyboard lighting is locked, it may be that the light sensor has picked up a bright light somewhere in the room. Try changing position or moving to a different room.

How do I reset my Mac keyboard? ›

Open the dropdown menu and press “System Preferences.” Click on the keyboard icon. In the bottom right corner, there will be a box that says “Modifier Keys.” Click that. Press the option to “Restore Defaults,” then click OK.

How do I manually display my keyboard? ›

To be able to open it anywhere, you go into the settings for the keyboard and check the box for 'permanent notification'. It will then keep an entry in the notifications which you can tap to bring up the keyboard at any point.

What is the Fn key for? ›

The Fn key, short form for function, is a modifier key on many keyboards, especially on laptops, used in a compact layout to combine keys which are usually kept separate.

What keys unlock keyboard? ›

If you press the NumLock key on the keyboard, pressing the right-side number keys cannot work since they are locked. To unlock the key characters on the keyboard, turn off the NumLock Key by pressing it again.

How do you fix an unresponsive keyboard on a MacBook Pro? ›

If your Mac doesn't respond to key presses
  1. Disconnect and reconnect the keyboard. Make sure the connector is completely inserted into the port.
  2. Connect your keyboard to a different USB port or to a different Mac. If this solves the problem, your Mac may need to be repaired. ...
  3. Connect a different keyboard to this Mac.

Why wont my Mac Let me change the keyboard brightness? ›

Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard , then click Keyboard. Select “Adjust keyboard brightness in low light”.

How do you force restart a Mac keyboard? ›

Control–Command–Power button:*

Force your Mac to restart, without prompting to save any open and unsaved documents. Control–Command–Media Eject : Quit all apps, then restart your Mac.

How do you force restart an Apple keyboard? ›

Make sure that your keyboard is connected. Then shift-option-click the Bluetooth icon in your menu bar, scroll down to the keyboard in question, and click "Factory Reset". This should reset your keyboard to brand new.

How do I enable keyboard on Mac? ›

Turn it on: On your Mac, choose Apple menu > System Settings, click Accessibility in the sidebar, click Keyboard on the right, then turn on Accessibility Keyboard. (You may need to scroll down.)

Why won't my On-Screen Keyboard appear? ›

Right-click the Start button and select Settings. Go to Ease of Access > Keyboard. Turn on the toggle below Use the On-Screen Keyboard.

How do I find my keyboard settings? ›

On a hardware keyboard, press and hold the Windows logo key , and then press the Spacebar to cycle through your input methods. If you have a touchscreen, you can switch your touch keyboard layout by tapping or clicking the keyboard icon, and then tapping or clicking the keyboard layout you want to switch to.

What can I use if I don't have a Fn key? ›

Method 1. Toggle the Fn Lock key

Some keyboards, most commonly laptop keyboards, come with a dedicated Fn Lock key. Pressing this along with the Fn key itself will change your top row from hotkey functionality to Fn keys in an instant, allowing you to perform actions without having to hold the Fn key as well.

What can I use instead of Fn key? ›

1) Make Use Of The Keyboard Shotcut

keys or Esc key.

How do I use function keys without pressing Fn? ›

Use the keys as standard function keys

If your keyboard doesn't have an Fn key, try pressing and holding the Control key when pressing a function key.

How do you unlock the Fn key manually? ›

To enable FN Lock on the All in One Media Keyboard, press the FN key, and the Caps Lock key at the same time. To disable FN Lock, press the FN key, and the Caps Lock key at the same time again.

What is F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 f6 f7 f8 f9 f10 f11 F12? ›

The function keys or F-keys on a computer keyboard, labeled F1 through F12, are keys that have a special function defined by the operating system, or by a currently running program. They may be combined with the Alt or Ctrl keys.

What is F2 function key? ›

F2 – Allows you to rename a selected file or folder. F3 – Opens a search feature for an application that is active at the moment. F4 – Alt + F4 closes the active window. F5 – Allows you to refresh or reload the page or document window.

Where is F mode key? ›

The F keys are located in the top row on both Windows and Mac keyboards. The function keys are located in the top row on a Windows keyboard.

What are the F1 through F12 keys? ›

The F1 through F12 FUNCTION keys have special alternate commands. These keys are called enhanced function keys. Enhanced function keys provide quick access to frequently used commands that can increase your productivity. These commands are typically printed above or on the keys.

How do you unlock the keyboard? ›

How to Fix a Keyboard That's Locked
  1. Restart your computer. ...
  2. Turn off Filter Keys. ...
  3. Try your keyboard with a different computer. ...
  4. If using a wireless keyboard, replace the batteries. ...
  5. Clean your keyboard. ...
  6. Check your keyboard for physical damage. ...
  7. Check your keyboard connection. ...
  8. Update or reinstall the device drivers.
18 Jun 2022

How do I use F2 on my laptop? ›

In Microsoft Windows and Windows programs, when an icon, file, or folder is highlighted or selected, pressing F2 renames the file. For example, you could open a folder in Explorer, select a file, and press F2. Once pressed, the file is highlighted, and you can type a new name for the file.

Is there a function lock key? ›

The F-Lock key, introduced by Microsoft in 2001, toggles the state of the function keys. When on, keys F1 to F12 behave as applicable, with meanings defined by the application being used at the time. When off, new behaviour is used: F5 means "open", F10 means "spell" etc.

How do I turn off Fn lock on HP? ›

Enable or disable fn (function) or action keys mode

Press the right or left arrow key to select the System Configuration menu. Press the up or down arrow key to select Action Keys Mode. Press the enter key to display the Enabled / Disabled options. Press the up or down arrow key to select one of the options.

How do I turn off Fn Lock manually? ›

Press Fn + Esc to enable Fn Lock and disable the hotkey functionality.

How do you unlock the keyboard on a laptop? ›

To lock your keyboard just press this “Lock Keyboard & Mouse “option and in five seconds it will lock your keyboard and mouse. To unlock your keyboard and mouse you have to press CTRL+ALT+DEL simultaneously and next press the Esc key and your mouse and keyboard will be unlocked.

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