Why Won't a New Keyboard Work When I Plug It Into a PC?

By David Nield

Keyboard faults can be caused by problems with your hardware or software setup.
i Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Some detective work is required to determine why a new keyboard isn't working when you plug it in. If it doesn't work in any computer you try it with, the fault may lie with the keyboard itself. If it works intermittently, turn your attention to the connection or the drivers installed in Windows. The connecting cable, USB port used, operating system configuration and other third-party devices can all interfere with the functionality of the keyboard.

Ports and Cables

The USB port or the cable connecting the keyboard to your computer may be at fault. Testing the keyboard with an alternative USB cable, or plugging it into a different port on your motherboard, can help determine if the ports and cables are at the root of the issue. Plug the keyboard directly into the motherboard rather than connecting it to an external USB hub.

Wireless Keyboards

If your keyboard connects wirelessly over Bluetooth, follow the instructions supplied with the device to ensure it can be discovered by your computer. (If you've lost the keyboard manual, a digital copy can often be found on the manufacturer's website.) New Bluetooth devices can be added from the Devices tab of the PC settings page on the Start screen. Make sure the keyboard is correctly powered using a fresh set of batteries.

Hardware Drivers

Hardware drivers enable communication between devices and the operating system, and if you're using out-of-date or faulty drivers this can cause problems. Open the keyboard manufacturer's website, then locate and download the most recent set of drivers that match the model of your keyboard and the operating system you're running. Once the newest drivers are installed, connect the keyboard again and reboot the PC.

Conflicting Devices

Another device, whether related to PC input or not, could be conflicting with the keyboard and preventing it from working. Power down the computer, unplug all of the devices except for the new keyboard, and then start up the machine again to eliminate this as a potential cause of the problem.

Further Troubleshooting

Microsoft provides an automated Fixit tool on its website (see link in Resources) which you can run to diagnose and fix hardware-related problems. You can also run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter by searching for the "Find and fix problems with devices" through the Search charm. (Select the "Settings" filter to see it.) If the issue persists, and the keyboard refuses to work on other computers as well, it's likely that the device itself has developed a mechanical fault and will need to be professionally repaired.