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Reasons Your Dell Laptop Keyboard is Locked and How to Fix It

Although Dell laptops are considered a solid brand, there are still potential problems to consider—as there are with any laptop. One such problem that users have reported is the keyboard locking, where none of the keys will work on any program, and it’s a problem that usually comes on suddenly. So what causes a locked keyboard on a Dell laptop, and how can we fix it?

There are many potential causes of a locked keyboard on a Dell laptop. These include hardware issues, an outdated driver, power adapter and battery issues, a faulty connection, and more. You can try to fix these by checking the BIOS, troubleshooting the battery and power adapter, and rebooting.

Let’s take a closer look at reasons your Dell laptop keyboard might be locked, as well as the steps you can take to fix it and when your laptop might need to see a professional technician for repair.

What Causes a Locked Keyboard on a Dell Laptop?

Shot of my Dell XPS 15 placed on my desk.

There are a few different things that can cause a locked keyboard on a Dell laptop.

Hardware Issues

There’s always the possibility of hardware issues within a laptop. These most commonly occur when the laptop has gotten old and parts have worn down, but they could also be from damage.

If you dropped or bashed your laptop right before the keyboard locked, it’s very likely that something could have happened on impact which has damaged the inside of the laptop.

Outdated Driver

Computers and even keyboards themselves often need updates to be downloaded. You can check on Dell’s website for any updated drivers you may be missing. This is more common if you haven’t made any updates to the laptop in a while, as the driver you are currently using may no longer be supported.

Battery or Power Adapter Issues

Battery and power adapter issues can wreak havoc with the rest of the computer. It could be an issue where the battery isn’t supplying enough power for the keyboard to work, or a faulty power adapter is interfering with other components of the computer.


Another reason your keyboard might have locked is malware. Malware is a virus designed to get into your computer and steal your information, and it can also do major damage in the process.

Malware can be responsible for a whole host of different problems within the computer, and it’s not unheard of for the keyboard to lock up or other things to happen if its embedded deep.

A Faulty Connection

If you’re using an external keyboard (on Amazon) and have it hooked up to the laptop, it could be that the connection is faulty—whether in the keyboard itself or within the cable. You need to make sure the keyboard is also compatible with the laptop, as not every external device is compatible with every brand of laptop.

How to Unlock Your Dell Keyboard

Now that you know the potential issues, we can look at how to unlock the Dell keyboard.

Restart Your Laptop

The first thing you can try to do is restart your laptop, which you should be able to do with just the mouse. You can access the Start menu and head to Power options to restart.

If there has been a simple software glitch or something has frozen on the computer, then this should be enough to get your keyboard working again. If this doesn’t work, you will have to move onto other solutions such as resetting the laptop.

Check BIOS

The BIOS stands for Basic Input/Output system and is accessible when booting up the computer. Tap the F2 key several times when you see the Dell logo and it will take you to the BIOS, where you can troubleshoot all of the computer’s basic functions and see if anything is wrong. To reset your BIOS password, click here.

It’s important not to mess too much with the BIOS if you aren’t experienced with laptops, however. Because the BIOS controls the basic functions of the computer, changing settings randomly can have a harsh impact on the computer’s performance and you may end up unintentionally making things worse.

Troubleshoot the Power Adapter and Battery

If there’s an issue with the keyboard, try attempting to make it work while the computer is running on battery and then when it’s plugged into the power adapter.

If it works while on battery but not while charging, the issue is a faulty power adapter and you will have to replace it. If it works while charging but not on battery, the issue is with the battery.

It’s very common to need to get batteries replaced, as they can be one of the first things to wear out within the computer, and it shouldn’t be too expensive to do.

Update the Keyboard Driver

You can also look up your make and model of laptop on the Dell website. If there are any updated drivers, they will let you know to download and install them, which should clear out any software bugs related to running old drivers that may no longer be supported within your laptop.

Try a Different Keyboard

Lastly, if using an external keyboard, you can try playing around and using a different keyboard to see if the issue is with your laptop or the keyboard itself. You can also try swapping out the cable you’re using to attach the keyboard to the computer, or checking the Bluetooth connection if its wireless.

If the keyboard attached to your laptop still works but this one doesn’t, the problem is with the external keyboard (or compatibility). 

When to Call a Professional

If you try all of these fixes and are still having issues, it’s time to call in a professional. More often than not when this happens, there’s been a hardware issue where the keyboard has stopped working, and it will take a professional technician to diagnose and replace. While it is possible to DIY this fix, it can be risky for the inexperienced.

You may also need to call a professional if the problem is malware. While many virus programs can run scans and get rid of it, some malware is too clever and the whole laptop might need to be wiped before it can perform its normal functions again.

How to Prevent Issues in the Future

Dell laptop

There are a few steps you can take to try and prevent your keyboard locking in the future and mitigate these problems before they begin, such as:

  • Carrying your laptop in a shockproof case so its protected if you drop it or bump it against something

  • Not eating or drinking around your laptop, so crumbs and liquid stay well clear of the keyboard

  • Having an active anti-virus program (on Amazon) on your computer that scans for malware every now and again

  • Avoiding clicking on suspicious links and emails, as even some malware can get past anti-virus programs

  • Checking any external keyboard you buy is compatible with the computer

  • Keeping your drivers updated

Ultimately, you may still run into issues if it’s just due to a software glitch that couldn’t be prevented or the age of the laptop. When in doubt, a professional will be able to diagnose and fix the issue (or let you know if anything deeper is going on and you need to replace the laptop).