Some keys on my laptop don't work, but I think it's software. How fix?

For the past month or two, for unknown reasons, occasionally on attempting to log in to the laptop in question (Windows 10), I would discover that my ‘a’ key was not working. The first time it happened I assumed there was a hardware problem–especially since specificaly the ', caps, and 1 keys also weren’t working.

However, I found that on restarting the laptop, these keys were functioning again. And in fact, the problem popped up periodically, always and only at the login screen, and every time was fixed on restarting the laptop.

That is, until this morning. Now the keys don’t function, and are not fixing on restart.

If I am right that this is software and not hardware, what fixes might be available, if any?

System restore to a point just before it went wrong, if available.

If that doesn’t work, you could go into device manager and tell it to uninstall the keyboard, then (using the mouse) tell it to scan for hardware changes - it will reinstall the keyboard.

ETA: however, your problem sounds a bit intermittently-failing-hardwarey to me

You may be right about it being a hardware problem, but the thing that struck me was how it always occurred at the login screen, never at any other time–and was always fixed (until this morning) by resetting the laptop.

What brand? I’ve had to replace the keyboard on Mrs. B’s Asus Zenbook twice.

It’s an Acer. It’s two or three years old so a hardware problem is not out of the question of course, despite the seemingly software-related pattern in the breakdown. How much would it cost to replace a keyboard? Assume I am mechanically incompetent and would need someone to do it for me.

Some are easy, some are not. Google your exact make and model number with “keyboard replacement” and if it’s doable by mortals, there will be a page or video.

On the ASUS, it was relatively easy except that the actual keyboard was held in place by about 35 screws half the size of a grain of rice.

If a replacement keyboard is available, it will be on eBay and the seller should have a very specific model/parts number matching section. They run $10-20 direct-ship from China, about a week to arrive.

Word of advice buying a laptop keyboard on eBay, though. Make sure it’s for a key layout you actually want (like, for instance, the keyboard you already have).

Laptops are tailored at the factory for different countries’ typical keyboard layout, and it can be hard to tell the difference on eBay between an English-US layout and, say, and English-Great Britain one. But in the circumstance in my experience, the British layout had a much smaller return key and some non-alphanumeric keys relocated compared to what I was used to. And sometimes a different national keyboard layout won’t even fit the keyboard cutout in the laptop. (Note the left shift key in that picture.)

It looks like that keyboard had separate cutouts for each key. The Dell laptops I have at work have one big rectangular cutout for the whole keyboard.

As i said, you have to get the EXACT keyboard for your complete model number - not just a 320, for example, but an ASW320-WM49E.

The ASUS had cutouts for each key as well.

Good advice, but the eBay offerings I saw didn’t go that deeply into “compatible models”. So at least once I installed an EN-GB keyboard into my EN-US Toshiba L505. Since the keyboard cutout wasn’t that restrictive, it fit, but it gave me fits with the change in layout.

Get the most correct keyboard, down to the detailed sub-model suffix information, but also look closely at the picture (and hope the picture is accurate for the item you’re buying).

Have you tried connecting an external keyboard via a usb port? While this won’t work as a permanent solution, it will help you determine if it’s a hardware or software issue. If the problem does go away, it could still be driver (software) problem, rather than hardware. If the problem doesn’t go away, there’s something wrong at the OS or higher level.

FWIW, my 2010 MacBook Air does this sometimes too; it’s the p and - keys. A restart makes them work again.