How to Fix It When USB Keyboard is Not Working on Mac

You use a USB keyboard because it’s easy to connect and usually reliable, but now it is acting up and not working on your Mac. If your USB keyboard has stopped working, it can be extremely frustrating and it may even be keeping you from getting your work done. 

Don’t panic yet, there is still hope that you can get it working again. Simple fixes like unplugging it and plugging it back in again, restarting your Mac computer, or even just checking the on/off switch can usually fix the problem.

My name is Eric and as an engineer, I love to solve problems. Trying to fix a USB keyboard that is not working on your Mac is one that I have seen before. It’s normally a quick and simple fix and I can show you some of the ways I have learned to solve this problem.

Keep reading for more so you can try to get your USB keyboard working again on your Mac.

Fix #1: On/Off Switch

Does your keyboard have an on/off switch? It’s not really common for most USB keyboards but I have seen some that do have one. 

If so, make sure you have the keyboard turned on. It sounds like a no-brainer but I can’t tell you the number of times this has happened to be with a device.

Fix #2: Unplug It

It’s one of the simplest fixes and it often works. Sometimes your USB connector becomes loose or needs to be seated properly. 

Try unplugging your USB keyboard’s connector and then plugging it back in again. Wait for your Mac to recognize the keyboard. If it does, you should be good to go.

If it still doesn’t work, look at the USB connector on your keyboard’s cable and inspect it for any dirt, debris, or damage. If you notice any debris, remove it if possible. If the connector looks dirty you can try gently cleaning it with a cotton suave and some rubbing alcohol. 

Once you have removed any debris and/or cleaned the plug, try plugging it in again and see if it works. If the plug looks damaged, you may be out of luck and may need to buy a new keyboard or have the cord replaced. Although replacing the cord may not be cost-effective.

Fix #3: Try Another Port

If unplugging and plugging your keyboard in, as described above, did not solve the problem, the next step is to try plugging the keyboard into another USB port to determine if the USB port is possibly bad. 

Unplug your keyboard from its current port and plug it into another free port on your Mac. If you don’t have a free port, you may need to unplug one of your other devices so that you can plug your keyboard into it and see if it works.

If the keyboard works on the other USB port, you should be good to go, but this may mean that your USB port is bad. To further test the port, try plugging another device into the original USB port and see if that device works. If it does not, you can assume the original USB port is bad.

Fix #4: Reboot

Another simple solution that you should try is rebooting or restarting your system, especially if you have not done this in quite a while. A reboot of your system can reset your NVRAM/PRAM and SMC. It will also clear your memory and reset numerous other things.

It’s amazing how much a simple reboot of your system can clear up. It’s easy to do. Just click on the Apple symbol in the upper right corner of your screen and then click on Shut Down.

Leave your system shut down for a minute or so and then press the power button to start it back up. I suggest doing a full shutdown (instead of just a Restart) because this ensures everything is reset and cleared.

Once your system starts back up, check to see if your keyboard is working. If it is, the problem is solved!

Fix #5: Check for macOS Updates

Another thing to check is that your macOS is up to date. When your macOS is not up to date, it is possible to see glitches and odd behavior in your system. Check to see if your system needs an update by clicking on the Apple menu and looking for an update message.

If you see an update indicator as shown in the image above, click on System Settings, and then in System Settings, click on the Software Update Available message as shown below to begin the update process.

Once the update has been completed, reboot your system again and then check to see if your keyboard is working.

Fix #6: Turn Bluetooth Off

While unlikely for the most part, there is a possibility that your Mac is connecting to another keyboard wirelessly through Bluetooth and therefore it is disabling or interfering with your USB keyboard. 

Try turning Bluetooth off by clicking on the Bluetooth symbol on the menu at the top of your desktop and then clicking on the switch to turn it off as shown below.

Check to see if your USB keyboard is now working. If it is, this will mean that your Bluetooth is connecting to another keyboard somehow. You’ll need to go into Bluetooth settings and remove the wireless keyboard from your connections.

What to Do if Your USB Keyboard is Bad

If you have tried the above solutions and your USB keyboard is still not working, it is possible that your keyboard is bad. Before you toss the keyboard and go out and get another one, you should try testing it first to make sure the keyboard is the problem.

Test it on Another Computer

It’s a fairly simple test. Plug the keyboard into another computer. If it works on the other computer, the keyboard is still good. If it doesn’t work, chances are you have a bad keyboard. If you don’t have another computer to try, borrow a friend or co-worker to do the test.

Try Another Keyboard

If you happen to have another USB keyboard available, try plugging it into your Mac and see if it works. If it doesn’t you may still have an issue with your system. If it does work, it’s pretty likely that your original keyboard is bad.

If you don’t have another keyboard available, try borrowing one from a friend or colleague. It’s a great way to find out if the problem is with your computer or your keyboard.

Buy a New Keyboard

If the signs are leading to the indication of a bad keyboard, then it might be time to buy a new one. If you go with another USB keyboard, and other keyboards have worked on your system, you shouldn’t have a problem. Just plug the new one in and start typing.

If you’re tired of the cord and USB plug, you might go for a wireless keyboard and you will no longer have to worry about your USB plug and connection. You can easily connect it using Bluetooth.


It can be really frustrating if your USB keyboard has stopped working. The good news is that most of the time, there is a simple solution to fix it. Let’s take a look at some of the quick remedies that might get your USB keyboard back to working as soon as possible.

Hopefully one of these solutions works for you and your keyboard. If not, it might be time to consider purchasing a new one.

I hope the information above has helped you to determine the problem with your USB keyboard. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *