How to remove the keys of the mechanical keyboard?

One of the many advantages of having a great mechanical keyboard is that the keys are made to be easily removed and reattached. In theory you could remove all the keys without tools, but that would be time consuming and could damage your keyboard.

This article will show you the best way to remove keys, which is through a special device, as well as best practices and common pitfalls to avoid.

When to remove keyboard keys

There are many reasons why you might want to remove your keyboard covers. Here is a list of the most common:

  • You want to clean your keyboard: The best way to thoroughly clean a keyboard is to remove all the keys. Since debris and dust are hardly accessible with the keys still on, you will never be able to get a keyboard as clean as new without removing it.
  • To change your keys: Since each key is individually interchangeable, there are a plethora of options online for aftermarket key modification and specialized keys. Alternatively, you may want to change a broken key or access the mechanical switch below it.
  • Fix a stuck key: Although it is a rare occurrence, sometimes a key will remain stuck in the pressed positions, causing your PC to enter your command in a loop constantly. So if you notice your system continuously typing on its own, you might have a stuck key.

Safety tips before removing keyboard covers

Although removing key caps is relatively easy, I have still managed to break some keyboards in the past due to not knowing how to remove key caps properly. Here is a short list of things to keep in mind when doing this:

  • Certain keys may also be secured in place with thin metal wires to stabilize them when pressed. This is most commonly present on the space bar and the other larger keys. If you remove these keys incorrectly without disconnecting the metal stabilizers, you may end up damaging your keyboard.
  • When pulling on a key cap, never use force in a direction other than pulling the key up or pressing it down. Removing the keyboard keys from the side can permanently damage the plastic injection that connects the keycap to the switches. Even if the key is difficult to hold correctly while it is being removed, always pull it straight up as precisely as possible. pull-keycap-up
  • Suppose you feel some resistance when trying to remove a single key. In that case, you could be grabbing the delicate mechanical switch underneath and damaging the plastic fittings. Removing a single keycap from your keyboard should never require anything more than light force or pressure.
  • Check if your keyboard keys are not soldered to the switches. Some keyboards on the market do not feature removable keys, and even if your keyboard is marketed as mechanical, it does not automatically mean that the keys can be removed without disassembling the keyboard first.

How to remove mechanical keys?

The best way to safely and quickly remove keycaps from mechanical keyboards is to use a specialized plastic keycap puller or wire keycap puller. The latter works better, but most mechanical keyboards come with just a basic plastic keycap puller. Please note that the plastic version is less likely to scratch keys compared to the metal wire version, so be careful when using it.

If you’re not sure what it looks like, it’s usually shaped like a plastic ring with two short extensions on the sides to hold the keys. After the key remover of your choice, follow these steps:

Insert the keycap remover into the top of the key

insert-key-cap-remover

As the name of the step suggests, this is exactly what you need to do first. Note that if you are using a plastic key puller or a metal wire key puller, in both cases you should hear and feel the ends engage the back of the keys.

If using a double-sided plastic key cap remover, always line it up horizontally when attaching to a key, as key caps are naturally angled to the side and therefore have more room to fit .

If for some reason you are using only your bare hands, remove the ones adjacent to the side if you find the key difficult to access and grip properly. Suppose you want to remove the “Q” key: Start by removing the 1,2,3, ~, Tab, and Caps Lock keys. Otherwise, it is almost impossible to remove a key that is surrounded by others with just your fingers.

Carefully remove the keyboard key

removing-mechanical-keys

Gently move the key cap sideways while pulling it up. Start with a pulling force and slowly increase the force until the keycap is removed. Larger keys may require a bit more force to pull than smaller keys.

Note the stabilizers for space and enter keys. With these keys, it’s best to remove them by pulling on one side of the corner and then the other (for the space key). If your space key is attached with a single mechanical switch in the middle and no stabilizers (like on my keyboard), put the keycap puller in the middle and pull it up.

How do I reposition my keys on the keyboard?

Replacing your mechanical keyboard keys is as simple as gently aligning them and pressing them properly onto the plastic mechanical retaining bit; however, there are some nuances that should not be overlooked. Here are the exact steps to reattach the keycaps:

  1. clean bottom of the keys and mechanical switches with a soft cloth. This will ensure a snug fit and prevent unwanted wobble.
    cleaning-dust-of-the-keyboard
  2. Check that the Smock and any part of the mechanical switch is not loose and is correctly assembled.
  3. Align the keys face the right way, facing the North side of your keyboard.
    alignment keys
  4. If applicable, reattach the cable stabilizers to the Space, Get into either Change keys.
  5. start soft push the keys down until the keycap is fully depressed and there is no gap between the mechanical switch and the keycap retaining mold
  6. press the Keys to make sure they no longer wobble, which means they are fully secured without any gaps.pressing-and-checking-keyboard-keys

After assembling all the keys, see if the different keys give the correct input, if not, you probably changed two or more keys in the wrong slots.

Related questions

Can I remove keys on non-mechanical keyboards?

The short answer is yes; the long answer is that it depends. As we mentioned earlier, some keycaps are welded, which means it’s a single piece between the switch and the keycap, and cannot be removed. This solely depends on the exact manufacturer and model of your keyboard. Some keyboards that feature flat keys can be incredibly difficult to take apart correctly.

Can I remove the keys from laptop keyboards?

Unless your laptop is incredibly sophisticated and has a mechanical keyboard with easy-to-remove keys, never try to remove the keys from the laptop by simply pulling on them like you would a mechanical keyboard.

Laptop keys are much more complex, housing multiple small parts that can be easily damaged if you apply too much force. Also, many laptop keyboards are not accessible for disassembly or maintenance unless you disassemble the entire laptop.

Will changing the key symbols also change the input?

No, even if you put a differently named key on your keyboard, the input remains the same as the specific command is already soldered onto that specific mechanical switch. However, it is good practice to put the keys in the wrong place to prank your gaming friends.

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