8 ways to troubleshoot if your Windows key is not working
- If the
Windowskey is not working properly on your keyboard, there are several things you can do to troubleshoot it.
- The Windows key is an important modifier that helps you switch apps, windows, and virtual desktops.
- Start by making sure Game Mode, Filter Keys, and other software aren't conflicting with the Windows key.
The Windows key is an essential shortcut that does things on its own — press it to open the Start menu — and works with other keys to let you switch apps, use virtual desktops, and more. Like the Alt, Ctrl, and Fn keys, it's challenging to get work done in the usual way if your Windows key is not working. If your Windows key is not working the way you expect, try these
Use the on-screen keyboard as a workaround
If you need to use the Windows key for something and don't have time to troubleshoot the problem right now, you can enable the on-screen keyboard as a handy work-around. Usually, you can turn the keyboard on by pressing Win + Ctrl + O, but that obviously won't work without the Windows key. Instead, search for "keyboard" in the lower-left corner of Windows and choose On-Screen keyboard when you see it in the search results. The on-screen Windows key should work unless the Windows key has been disabled by an app, utility or some other feature.
Check to see if Game Mode is conflicting with the keyboard
Game Mode is designed to optimize your PC for gaming by disabling certain features and processes, giving you a smoother frame rate. In some situations, though, Game Mode can cause a conflict with your keyboard. To eliminate this as a possibility, you can temporarily disable it. Click Start and then Settings. Click Gaming. Finally, click Game Mode and turn this feature off by swiping the button to the left.
See if the Windows key is disabled
Gamers like to disable the Windows key so they don't accidentally tap it during gameplay, which might take them out of the game to the Start menu or a window management screen. If you have a dedicated gaming keyboard, it's likely that there is a lock button on the keyboard or in the keyboard's desktop setup software to disable the Windows key.
If you don't have a gaming keyboard, it's still possible that the Windows key can be disabled with a third-party app. If you are using someone else's computer, or you recently inherited this PC without resetting the PC and starting with a fresh hard drive, check your computer to see if there is any software running which might interfere with or disable the Windows key. Some of the most common apps to look for include WinKill and WKey Disabler.
Make sure Filter Keys are off
Filter Keys is an accessibility feature that assists users who may have trouble using the keyboard due to motor skills issues. If you enable Filter Keys, for example, your keyboard may disregard a key input if it thinks you pressed it by accident. To eliminate this as a possible reason for your Windows key not working, you might want to make sure Filter Keys are disabled.
Click Start and then Settings. Search for "filter keys" and click Filter Keys when you see it appear in the search results. Then, on the Filter Keys page, turn off the Filter Key options by swiping the buttons to the left.
The keyboard could be dirty or have debris under the keycap
Another quick fix: Make sure there isn't so much dirt or debris under the Windows key that it's preventing the key from working properly. The easiest way to do this is to gently brush away dirt from around and under the keycap, or use a can of compressed air to blow away the debris.
Update your driver
It's also possible — though relatively unlikely — that your keyboard's drivers might need to be updated. Click Start, then Settings, and search for "device manager." Click Device Manager when you see it in the search results. Expand the Keyboards section, right-click your keyboard and choose Update driver. Then choose Search automatically for drivers and wait for Windows to update the keyboard.
Run the keyboard troubleshooter
Windows includes a set of troubleshooters that can diagnose unusual problems with your system. If you've gotten this far and your Windows key is still misbehaving, it's a good idea to run the troubleshooter to see if anything comes up.
Click Start and then Settings, followed by Update & Security. (If you have Windows 11, click Settings, then System.) Next, click Troubleshoot, and choose Other troubleshooters or Additional troubleshooters. Scroll down to Keyboard and run this troubleshooter. It should only take a moment, and Windows will report any issues it finds.
Try another keyboard
Finally, if none of these fixes have restored your Windows key, it's possible that the keyboard is damaged or defective. There could be an electrical problem or even a mechanical issue preventing the keyboard from working. The easiest way to test this is to plug in a different keyboard and see if you have better results. If the replacement keyboard works, you almost certainly have a defective keyboard that needs to be replaced.
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