What did I do to my keyboard and can I fix it?

I took the plunge and cleaned out half my 15-year-old Microsoft Natural keyboard yesterday. Like most keyboards, it’s easy enough to pop the keys off, clean out the ten years of dog hair and bits of paper underneath them, give the key itself a quick clean, and pop it back on.

That worked great, except for the ‘a’ key. It works fine - aAaaaaAAAAaaa, see? - but it’s loose. If I turn the keyboard upside down, it falls off. If I hit it slightly wrong, it jiggles and sometimes comes off.

The key itself is gray plastic, and there’s a black plastic cylinder that sits down into the keyboard. I think the issue is the cylinder - some of the keys that I popped off came off the cylinder, others took the cylinder with them. This was one that took the cylinder with it, but when I press it down into the keyboard, it no longer stays.

Can I fix it? What did I do? All the other keys are just fine. Tell me I didn’t kill my keyboard, I’ve had it forever and I loooooves it.

Which keyboard is that? I’ve got a few old MS natural keyboards, and on both of them the key stem and the key top are combined in a single white part - so you always pull out the stem when you pop the key.

You may have damaged the stem; they have very slight protusions that keep the keys from falling out and wiggling. If they key mechanism still works (doesn’t stick) when you press it carefully, you probably only need a replacement key. If I were you I’d get a second hand keyboard of the same model - it doesn’t need to work - and swap the keys. Or get a new one; the natural Elite is still available: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/productdetails.aspx?pid=022

If it’s broken there are numerous used ones for sale on Ebay, for very reasonable prices for someone that loves that design so much.

Unfortunately my lovely keyboard is the model BEFORE the natural keyboard elite, so it’s bit harder to find, but I did manage to find one on eBay. The elites screwed everything up by using half-height function keys and the arrow keys and insert/home/etc keys are not in the right shape.

I’d rather fix my own than spend the money on a new one, but if I have to, I will. I tried to be as gentle as possible popping them out, but I guess I failed.

So depressing. I’ve had this keyboard for 15 years. I put off cleaning it until I couldn’t stand it anymore because I knew I’d kill it. Poor me!