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I'm trying to fix a laptop keyboard that has issues with keys on its left side. Just by feel, it's clear that something sticky got under there. There could be something crunchy too, but that might just be the sound of the key's spring releasing itself from the sticky. I don't know the cause because it's not my computer and the owner isn't sure, but I'm guessing soda spill for now.

The computer is an HP dv2500. I've removed the keyboard and blown under it but that hasn't helped. I didn't use compressed air because I just don't have any available, but I suspect it wouldn't help with sticky. So, I'd like to pop they keys off and clean with damp cotton swabs or similar. Is there a proper way to remove the keys? I've found some instructions via Google for non-laptop keyboards, but they don't seem like they'd work for me. Alternate solutions to the problem also welcome, but I've been curious about how to remove the keys for some time for other reasons.

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not an answer in its own right but... i've used a vacuum cleaner to remove keys before (by accident)... and if i had to remove keys again, that's how i'd go about doing it - its gentler than prying,as long as you use a fresh dust bag –  Journeyman Geek Mar 8 '10 at 9:54
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With my brother's laptop (a dell studio 1537), Dell tech support replaced the entire keyboard rather than attempt to put a key back on... Some laptops may leave you out of luck. –  Macha Mar 14 '10 at 16:42
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5 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Laptop keyboards are indeed more complicated then regular ones. Regular ones are usually quite easy to pop out and push back. For laptops however, it's different, as you need to know how the mechanism is made underneath.

Here you can find information about how to do that for a Dell laptop:

http://www.wikihow.com/Pop-a-Key-Back-Onto-a-Dell-Laptop-Keyboard

Note that the mechanism may be a bit different for your own laptop, but keep in mind that it is based on same idea. You have usually two parts together under the actual key, and a part acting like a spring underneath it.

laptop keyboard key scissor mechanism

Knowing how it looks inside may help you, I hope. In general, keep in mind that you want to pop the top part out, not the two inside ones, and that this part is held usually on four corners, as described in the given link. Apply your effort to pop it from a corner. It will require a bit of effort, especially that you have to be careful to not actually break one of the inside parts.

In general, I would not recommend popping out all the keys from a keyboard to clean them. Do it for the really stuck and sticky ones, but it is not as trivial as a regular keyboard, as you can see.

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+1/accepted just for the exploded diagram. Based on the keyboard I fixed, the fact that your link is for a Dell and broken laptops I've seen in the past, I think this is a standard design. –  Pops Jan 6 '10 at 18:35
    
It does appear relatively standard. I've seen the same (or at least very similar) design on Toshiba and Lenovo laptops. Make sure any replacement parts you source are for the keyboard you have though - there are likely to be small variances between some models. –  David Spillett Mar 8 '10 at 9:45
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Isopropyl alcohol is how I was able to fix my keyboard somewhat after someone spilled soda on it, but it still isn't back to 100%. I would recommend using a q-tip or cottonball and using it to apply some alcohol to it.

Good luck.

EDIT: Also, cursory google search indicates a very extensive cleaning guide, probably more than you need. Here it is: http://www.computing.net/howto/simple/keyboard/

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Thanks, that's actually the link I based my post on. I'm not quite sure how to go about the prying off, or what kind of wires he's talking about to replace the keys after cleaning, though. –  Pops Jan 3 '10 at 1:47
    
Soda has an (un)healthy amount of sugar in it, you need plain water to dissolve that (alcohol/water mixtures don't dissolve sugar too well). –  vonbrand 2 days ago
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In the past (but not with that specific keyboard), I have been successful in removing keys by pressing down on the top end of the key while prying up the bottom end. Care must be taken to ensure that the scissor mechanism (which I believe is what the link in the other answer is referring to when he says wires) underneath are not broken during this process, but nothing short of having a steady and consistent hand can guarantee this.

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You want to google for the service guide. I googled "HP dv2500 service guide" and the first hit is a PDF describing how to disassemble the laptop and replace parts. Once you've got the keyboard out you may find it easier to clean.

If the keyboard is beyond repair, check if you can get replacements on ebay.

I have performed a similar repair on a Dell laptop, and it's really quite easy when you've got the service guide. Individual keys could be popped off with a little force from underneath and reattached by pressing down hard until it clicks.

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Thanks, that was actually the first thing I did. As I said in the original post, I reomved the keyboard from the computer with no problem; my issue was getting under the keys. I was worried about using excessive force and not being able to get the keys back on, which turned out to not be an issue. –  Pops Jan 5 '10 at 6:25
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Take a look at http://www.laptopkey.com/installation_guides.php It clearly shows how to remove and replace a laptop key.

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