How to Fix the Tab Key on a Laptop

Updated July 20, 2017

Laptop keyboards are all made differently, but one thing they have in common is durability. Laptops are compact and every component is designed to reflect this. As a result, laptop keyboards tend to be flimsy and keys can be pried off easily. Sometimes a larger key, such as the tab key, will come off easier due to its size. There are many ways the tab key can be removed, and just as many ways to fix it.

Align the piece evenly on the keyboard in the spot where it belongs.

Look at the diagram on the key to properly align it. There are no words on some tab keys, only arrows that should be etched on the left side.

Press down firmly with a finger placed on each side of the key. You should feel a gentle snap when it is in place.

Find a broken laptop of the same model or similar, such as Compaq and HP, to salvage the keys. Some laptops seem similar but have different keyboards so check the user's guide for specific part numbers. Used and broken laptops can be found online in places such as eBay or

Gently pry the tab key from the salvaged laptop with a flat-edged tool by lifting around the edges. A butter knife will work well.

Place the new key in the empty spot and press down to snap in place.

Locate the plastic strip just above the keyboard and carefully pry it up using a butter knife or other flat-edged tool.

Use the screwdriver to remove the four screws that are now exposed.

Use the flat tool to press the tabs along the edges of the keyboard. The tabs go around the sides and bottom and will slide inward as you press.

Lift the keyboard just enough to see the cable beneath it. Pull the cable gently with your fingers to pry it loose. If you see a tab holding it in place, lift the tab before pulling the cable. If you have a lighted keyboard, there will be an additional cable that lights the keys.

Set the old keyboard aside and remove the replacement keyboard from the old laptop in the same manner.

Attach the cable to the new keyboard, put it in place and replace the four screws.

Snap the plastic strip back in place and boot the laptop to test it.


Laptop screws are so tiny that losing them is common. Use a piece of masking tape to secure them until they're needed.


If replacing the entire keyboard, place the laptop on a hard surface, unplug the power cord and remove the battery to prevent electrical damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat tool
  • Small Philips screwdriver
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About the Author

Cee Jay began writing professionally in 2009 with work appearing on various websites. She has been repairing computers since 2000 and focuses on topics related to PC support/repair. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Franklin University and also studied advanced language arts at the Center for Arts and Sciences.