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How to reset keyboard on mac

how to reset keyboard on mac

Whether you’re a seasoned Mac user or just starting out, encountering keyboard issues can be frustrating. In my own experience, learning how to reset a keyboard on a Mac was a game-changer in troubleshooting. Fortunately, macOS provides several methods to reset your keyboard, which can help resolve various troubles such as unresponsive keys, incorrect inputs, and many other quirks that keyboards develop over time. In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps I’ve personally used to reset my Mac keyboard, ensuring that you can get back to your typing tasks with minimal disruption.


Common Scenarios:

Unexpected Key Behavior 🧐

  • Sticky keys that continue to input a character after release
  • Keys registering different characters than pressed
  • An entire section of the keyboard not responding

Bluetooth Connectivity Issues ⚡

  • Intermittent disconnections of wireless keyboards
  • Dropped pairing between the Mac and the keyboard
  • Continuous searching for Bluetooth devices but never connecting

Keyboard Preferences Not Applying 🔄

  • Custom keyboard settings resetting on startup
  • Modifier keys mappings not functioning properly
  • Keyboard shortcuts not working

Step-by-Step Guide. How To Reset Keyboard On Mac:

Method 1: Restart Your Mac 💻

  • Click on the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen
  • Select ‘Restart’
  • Wait for your Mac to power off and then back on

Note: This simple step can often resolve problems by rebooting system processes.

Conclusion: If the issue persists after a restart, move on to more specific reset methods.

Method 2: Reset the SMC 🔄

  • Shut down your Mac
  • Locate and hold the Shift-Control-Option keys on the left side of your keyboard, then press the power button at the same time
  • Hold these keys and the power button for 10 seconds
  • Follow further instructions based on your specific Mac model
  • Release the keys and power button, then turn your Mac back on

Note: SMC reset is only applicable to Intel-based Macs.

Conclusion: If keyboard issues are linked to power or hardware, an SMC reset might resolve them.

Method 3: Delete Bluetooth Preferences File 🗑

  • Open ‘Finder’ and navigate to ‘/Library/Preferences/’
  • Locate the file named ‘com.apple.Bluetooth.plist’
  • Drag this file to the Trash to delete it
  • Restart your Mac
  • Troubleshoot further with Bluetooth-specific steps if needed

Note: This action will reset all connected Bluetooth devices, and you’ll need to re-pair them.

Conclusion: Deleting this file can fix Bluetooth keyboard connectivity issues.

Method 4: Reset Keyboard Settings ⚙

  • Go to ‘System Preferences…’ from the Apple menu
  • Click on ‘Keyboard’
  • Select the ‘Input Sources’ tab
  • Click on the minus (-) button to remove all keyboard layouts except the default
  • Re-add your preferred keyboard layout by clicking the plus (+) button

Note: This method resets your keyboard layout and language settings.

Conclusion: If issues are related to input languages or custom settings, this can be an effective fix.

Method 5: Reset NVRAM or PRAM 🧠

  • Turn off your Mac
  • Power it on and immediately press and hold the Option-Command-P-R keys
  • Keep holding these keys for about 20 seconds during which your Mac might appear to restart
  • Follow specific instructions for your Mac model if necessary
  • Release the keys and allow your Mac to start normally

Note: NVRAM/PRAM stores user settings including sound volume, display resolution, and keyboard preferences.

Conclusion: Resetting NVRAM/PRAM can resolve issues when keyboard preferences are not properly applied.


Precautions and Tips:

Keeping Your Keyboard Healthy 🛡

  • Regularly clean your keyboard to prevent dirt and debris from causing key issues
  • Exercise care when eating or drinking around your Mac to avoid spills
  • Update your macOS to ensure all software-related fixes are applied

Understanding Mac Keyboards

Mac keyboards are distinct in several ways, which can impact how you approach resetting one. The layout, whether butterfly or scissor switches, affects the key mechanism, and the predominantly aluminum builds contribute to the rigidity and tactile feedback. Another aspect to consider is the use of function keys versus the Touch Bar resetting a Touch Bar requires different steps compared to traditional keys.

Customization of Mac keyboards using System Preferences and third-party software can enhance your workflow but may also introduce complexities when resolving issues. Keyboard shortcuts and Touch ID are also integral to the Mac user experience, both of which can be reset through the methods described above. For more detailed guidance on Mac keyboard layouts and features, Apple Support provides extensive resources.

Ensuring firmware updates for your keyboard, especially for newer models like the Magic Keyboard, can prevent issues before they start. It’s also prudent to be familiar with the warranty and service options for your Mac in case of hardware failures that can’t be resolved through a reset. For more information on service and support, visit Apple’s Mac Support.


In conclusion, resetting a Mac keyboard can be done in various ways, depending on the issue you’re facing. From a simple restart to resetting system management and preferences files, these steps can restore your Mac’s keyboard functionality. Remember to keep your Mac and accessories clean, update your software regularly, and consult Apple support materials for more complex issues. By following this guide, I hope you’ll fix any keyboard troubles you encounter and maintain an optimal experience with your Mac.


To reset your Mac keyboard to its default settings, go to System Preferences > Keyboard, and click on the Modifier Keys button. Then, click the Restore Defaults button.

To change the language settings on your Mac keyboard, navigate to System Preferences > Keyboard > Input Sources, click the plus sign, choose a language, and click Add.

To reboot the keyboard driver on a Mac, you’ll need to restart the Mac itself. Click the Apple menu and select Restart to reboot the system and refresh the drivers, including the keyboard driver.

If your Mac keyboard is unresponsive, reset the System Management Controller (SMC). The method varies with the Mac model, but you can find detailed instructions on Apple’s support page, Apple Support.

For issues with specific keys, try cleaning the keyboard first. If problems persist, reset the Mac’s NVRAM or PRAM by restarting your Mac and holding down Option-Command-P-R for about 20 seconds.

A sticky key can often be fixed with careful cleaning. Power off your Mac and gently clean around the affected key using compressed air or a soft, lint-free cloth.

After resetting your wireless keyboard, pair it again by going to System Preferences > Bluetooth, turning on Bluetooth, and then following the on-screen instructions to reconnect the keyboard.

There isn’t a direct keyboard shortcut to reset a Mac keyboard, but you can quickly access System Preferences with Command (⌘)-Space and type ‘Keyboard’ to modify settings.

If resetting doesn’t resolve the issue, consider checking for macOS updates or consulting Apple Support for further assistance.

While the Terminal can be a powerful tool, there is no standard command to reset a keyboard on a Mac. For keyboard issues, stick to System Preferences adjustments or SMC and NVRAM resets.