If you’ve been using your computer for a while now, you might find that you need to remove some keys to clean underneath them or replace them. Whether you’ve accidentally spilled something or a key simply stopped working, you need to know how to remove keyboard keys safely so as not to damage anything.
You can use a special tool called “keycap puller” or some everyday household items you already have. Whatever you choose, all you have to do to remove keyboard keys from a keyboard is to pry the cap up gently and pull it up.
In this article, you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to remove the keys, clean them, replace them. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this!
How to Remove Keys from a Keyboard with a Keycap Puller
A keycap puller is a small tool that allows you to remove keys without damaging them or the switches they sit on top of. They come in plastic and wire types, and you can find them in any electronics repair shop or online. Both varieties work well to remove keyboard keys safely, but the wire variety is more durable and less likely to scratch the keys.
Here’s how to remove keys from a keyboard with a keycap puller:
- Take a picture of your keyboard so you know where to replace the keycaps when you’re done.
- Attach the keycap puller to the keycap you wish to remove by sliding the prongs underneath the edges of the key.
- If you’re using a wire keycap puller, you need to twist the handle to hook the wire looks located underneath two corners of the key. A plastic keycap puller will only make a “click” sound when it has snapped onto the key.
- Pull up on the tool to remove the key.
With the wire keycap puller, you can remove more than one keycap at a time (up to 3 or 4 depending on the tool and the size of the keycaps). To do so, you just have to follow the same process we’ve described above.
There are a few household tools you can use as an alternative to a keycap puller. You have to be more careful, though, because you can damage the keys or cut yourself.
You can place a flathead screwdriver or a butter knife under a corner of the key and pry it up gently. Larger keycaps, such as the spacebar key, should be pried up as close to the center of the key as possible. Use your fingers to remove the keycap completely.
Another option is to make your own keycap puller with a paperclip. Simply unbend the paperclip completely and reshape it into a “U.” Use a pair of pliers to bend the ends of the paperclip inwards so that they can hook under a keycap just like the puller does. Now you can use it just like you would a keycap puller, being careful and working slowly so you don’t scratch the keyboard.
Whichever you choose, don’t forget to take a picture of the keyboard first to make it easier to replace the keycaps when you’re done.
After removing the keys, you have to clean the keyboard itself. To do this, moisten a cotton swab with water or rubbing alcohol to clean the space underneath the keys and wipe away any dust, dirt, or sticky spots.
Give the keycaps a bath of soapy water. Fill up a container with warm water and squirt some mild hand or dish soap. Let the keycaps soak for about 10 minutes, and use an old toothbrush or rag to scrub away any stuck dirt.
Let them air-dry completely before attaching them back onto the keyboard, so you don’t short out your keyboard’s electronics with moist caps.
How to Replace Keys from a Keyboard
If you’ve taken a picture of your keyboard before removing the keys, keep it close because you’re going to need it.
Orient the keycap and align the holes in the bottom with the plastic or metal pieces that hold them in place on the keyboard. Snap the key back into place by pressing it down evenly on all sides. You will hear a click when properly attached.
Repeat the process with all keycaps.
How to Remove MacBook Keys from a Keyboard
MacBook keys are slightly trickier to remove, but it’s not impossible to do.
- Shut down your Mac, and shut it down.
- Slide a guitar pick, old credit card, or a plastic butter knife underneath the keycap and gently pry it out of the hole.
- Run your chosen tool back and forth carefully until you hear a snap indicating that the key is detached.
Keep in mind that larger keys like the space bar have a stabilizing bar, so you should be extra careful with them.
- Turn the computer off to avoid typing anything or giving a command accidentally.
- Blow as much grime off of your keyboard as possible before removing the keys. A puff from a can of compressed air works best, but you can also use a vacuum.
If you use your computer, and particularly your keyboard, often, your fingers can leave an oily residue on the keys that can eventually build up on your screen. When this happens, you might need to remove the keycaps to give the keyboard a thorough cleaning.
Luckily, this is incredibly easy to do! You just have to be patient and careful while following our instructions to prevent scratching and damaging the pieces.