My keyboard keys escape, ` , tab and caps lock are not responding to click.

So I am forced to use the On Screen Keyboard

For information, I am using a Compaq 610 laptop.

  • 1
    Are you saying the leftmost column of keys on the keyboard is malfunctioning? What has happened to the laptop around the time when those keys stopped working? Does it make any difference if you try to use them before your regular operating system has started, for example in the BIOS setup or with a live CD with an alternative OS? – user Sep 23 '13 at 15:02
  • 1
    did you see @michaels question? Sometimes keyboards (usually older styles) use a very simple circuit interface that literaly knows "if power is flowing into column 1 (left column) and flowing out through row 1 (say the top row) then it means key X (in this example probably Escape. This is why Michael is asking about the whole left column not working and also why he asks about if they work in the BIOS/ other operating system. TO make sure that you dont have driver issues (which could have come after a upgrade). – PsychoData Oct 4 '13 at 5:41
  • 1
    We're trying to figure out if it is a Windows issue, or a physical issue, or something else we just aren't expecting yet. If you could give us a quick Idea of when it started and whether they still work in BIOS/ live CD that would help us narrow it down.. – PsychoData Oct 4 '13 at 5:46
  • I assume it works fine with an external keyboard? – Dave Oct 4 '13 at 7:42
  • does esc,tab keys respond to onscreen keyboard?does it replicate the actions over it? – BlueBerry - Vignesh4303 Oct 4 '13 at 8:09

This is a hardware failure which cannot be solved by tinkering with software or drivers.

How do we know it's a hardware failure?

Because the keys all failed in the same area. This points to underlying, common circuitry that has failed. It is not the behaviour of failed drivers. Note that the OP didn't report spilling anything or keys sticking.

Sure, take a couple of minutes to go into the BIOS to confirm the keys don't work even outside Windows if you have any doubts. But really, your focus should be heading over to eBay to buy a replacement keyboard for $15.99. (That is all it costs).

Ignore suggestions of taking it to a professional to be cleaned. Will that cost a lot more than $15.99? Yes. Does it stand a CHANCE of fixing your keyboard's hardware problem? No. Literally zero chance, because the problem is not that it is dirty in the first place.

enter image description here

enter image description here

If you are not sure how to install the replacement keyboard in your Compaq 610, you can ask a tech-savvy friend to do it for you. Alternatively, if you want to try yourself, take a look at some tutorials for laptop keyboard replacements to give you some idea. I did my first one when I was 18 in 20 minutes, just using a PDF user guide. It's even easier now there are videos like this out there:


Good luck!

  • @Austin ''Danger'' Powers : I have the same issue but in my keyboard these keys are not working: F2 F5 F9 \ 5 6 What is the explanation for this? they are not in the same row or same column. – Woeitg Nov 30 '15 at 11:15

Keyboards have issues, so in case some keys don't work , i can only tell you a way around

Instead of using on screen keyboard, You can use key mapping to allocate the funtionality of those keys which are not working to those which are working for example you can set the ESC key as left SHIFT key ----

Here is a link which recommends a great Key Mapper "Sharp Keys" and tutorial with screen shots on how to map the keys -


It's probably hardware issue because not responding buttons are in same colon. First try with different OS. If it works try updating or rollback drivers. Also run sfc /scannow in admin command prompt. If it doesn't work, try this link.

EDIT: Here is very good answer.


You state a problem but not a specific question. So if the questions is:

How to fix the problem?

  • Replace the keyboard as @Austin ''Danger'' Powers has suggested (BTW +1 for @Austin)

How to work-around the problem?

  • Use an external keyboard
  • Forget about caps lock and remap the others to PRINT-SCRN, SCROLL-LOCK, PAUSE *
  • Keep using the on screen keyboard for those three keys.

(* You probably never use those keys anyway)


Ensure this issue is not because of your OS/BIOS.For checking this you need a boot media of any other os, I suggest any linux distros and take a textpad or notepad file and do type and check keys are functioning or not.

If this error is not related with your OS/BIOS then it will be probably a hardware issue. disassemble keyboard from your laptop and try to clean the underlying membrane just below the keys and check whether the issues is still there. This is for removing dust etc from the membrane which in turn cause a short circuit situation. If this fails then only one way left is change your key board with a new one.

You are able to change the keyboard easily and it will not take more than 30 min to replace. You can refer page 5.7 of this HP Compaq manual for the details of part number and also a nice howto on replacing your keyboard along with images.


Similar to this question: Certain keys on my keyboard stopped working -- the first thing to try is connecting an external (USB) keyboard. If that works OK, then you know the issue is physical. If the external keyboard has the same problem (unlikely) then you know it's not the keyboard itself.

As others have said, the work of replacing the keyboard is relatively trivial, and the cost is about $20. Just use care when handling the ribbon-cable connector, as that's on the motherboard and you don't want to break it by trying to force it in any way.

If you want to try cleaning it, for laptops I use small dental-pick brushes which can get under the slim laptop keys in a way that toothbrush bristles can't. If you do use a toothbrush, pick a very soft-bristled one so that the bristles can curve to get underneath the keys.


Here is a solution that worked for me:

My Left, Right, Delete and Home were not working on my HP laptop that I am using right now. I found that my keyboard had some glitch happening.

What I did was to press every key on the keyboard with a little force, and after that I found everything working fine.


I know this is an old thread, I have just fixed an Acer E1-571 with this issue (with ESC, F1 1, TAB, CAPS LOCK, and ~ keys).

The reason some keys have failed is they are read on a matrix of rows and columns, and 1 of the rows or columns is not being read is not being read which causes 1 group of keys to not be read.

I traced the problem on this laptop to a broken copper track/trace on the motherboard from the keyboard connector to the IC. I soldered a kynar to repair the broken trace and it is now fully working again (obviously on other laptops it could be the track/trace, connector, or the IC, most likely the track/trace).

Hope this helps

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.