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I have a custom key I want to use on my new Deck keyboard, but I'm unclear how to safely remove existing keys from the keyboard without damaging them in the process.

Should I use a special tool? A regular tool? Or just pull on the key until it comes off?

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The Unicorn Key™ ? – Sathya Dec 21 '10 at 5:20
@sathya – Jeff Atwood Dec 21 '10 at 5:35
I have always used a regular key. No, really - it's long enough to lever it out, but not so long as to be difficult to get into strange positions. It's, obviously, very strong. It's rounded at the top, but not sharp, and it's about the same thickness as the space between my keys. The perfect tool! – Phoshi Dec 21 '10 at 9:10

I found one method of creating a paperclip key removal tool here -- very cool!

Note that the author cautions you to use a thick extra-strong paperclip, however.

paperclip key removal tool

I gave this a shot and he wasn't kidding about strong paperclip. I would only try this with one of those extra heavy duty paperclips.

I had a bit better luck with a flathead screwdriver and gently prying around the corner of the key.

alt text

Just be very gentle and go slowly.

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For mechanical switches, especially Cherry MX, make the little legs at the end very small (1-2mm), otherwise you risk damaging the switch. – Mircea Chirea Jul 6 '12 at 21:00

There is a key remover that pick up the key one by one and it comes with my cherry keyboard. I think you can get one from cherry or your keyboard dealer.

This is typically called a "keycap puller" and looks like this:

keyboard key cap puller

keyboard key cap puller in action

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protected by Journeyman Geek Aug 5 '13 at 8:37

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