Computer Help forum


Bizarre keyboard behavior

by Kimpire / May 26, 2015 10:54 PM PDT

NOTE: I have posted the following to the Microsoft and Dell support forums so far, but am shotgunning this a bit because I'm desperate to get my keyboard working again as quickly as possible.

Since last night, my keyboard has been acting very strangely.

The square bracket keys and the letters T and Y do nothing when pressed with my left shift key; I can only get curly brackets or a capital T or Y if I press the right shift key.

However, the opposite is true for the letters z, x, c, v, m, and the comma and period. They only work with my left shift key, and do nothing when pressed with my right shift key.

Using the on-screen keyboard, I can verify that pressing left-Ctrl or left-Shift individually is recognized by the system - but if I hold down left-Ctrl and left-Shift together, it only sees left-Ctrl. Similarly, if I'm holding down right-Ctrl and right-Shift together, it only sees right-Shift, even though both are recognized individually. If I try to hold down left-Ctrl and right-Shift together, whichever one I pressed first is recognized, and the second is ignored. However, right-Ctrl and left-Shift are recognized as a combination, though Ctrl-Shift-Tab doesn't work regardless.

Earlier, holding down Shift+5 and Shift +6 gave me capital M and capital V, respectively, when using my left shift; when using my right shift, I got capital T and capital Y instead. This is no longer true; now, it doesn't recognize that I'm pressing 5 or 6 at all with shift, but it recognizes me pressing each shift individually and the 5 and 6 individually.

The above is not even close to the full list of bizarre working and non-working combinations, but it will do for now.

Normally I'd suspect a hardware problem - maybe I spilled water on the keyboard without realizing it or something. But unless I'm mistaken, that shouldn't stop key combinations from working when each key works individually...

Anybody have a clue what's going on? I am using a Dell Inspiron 15 7000 series, with Windows 8.1. I've tried rebooting, and I tried uninstalling the keyboard from Device Manager with an eye to reinstalling it afterwards, but it just got reinstalled automatically upon reboot.

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All Answers

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Re: keyboard
by Kees_B Forum moderator / May 26, 2015 10:58 PM PDT

1. Does an external (USB) keyboard work correctly?
2. Does a replacement internal keyboard work correctly?

If you didn't change any software, it's unlikely to be a software issue.


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Easier than testing a replacement keyboard ...
by Kees_B Forum moderator / May 26, 2015 11:07 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: keyboard

- Does the keyboard work correctly in the BIOS setup?
- Does the keyboard work correctly in Dell's recovery environment?
- Does the keyboard work correctly if you boot from a Linux Live disk?
If no for any of these 3, it excludes Windows software and settings as a possible cause.


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by Kimpire / May 27, 2015 2:12 AM PDT

I don't have a USB keyboard I can test. But I tried to get into the BIOS and discovered that F2 is apparently one of the keys that isn't working properly. So I can't get into the BIOS.

In any case, this seems to confirm your suggestion. So it's not Windows doing it. That leaves hardware, I guess. The particular symptoms are mystifying, though. Thanks. I'd add an exclamation point, but I can't.

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It's inline with failed keyboards.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 27, 2015 2:30 AM PDT
In reply to: Unfortunately

The way that matrix in the kbd works can indeed cause oddities that look on the surface mysterious. Without a deep primer and dissertation it only looks mysterious. Kees listed out some great tests. For me I carry a cheap spare keyboard on such calls.

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try a vacuum
by James Denison / May 27, 2015 4:23 AM PDT

get the crumbs and dirt out from it.

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