Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for my weekly newsletter, "Confident Computing", for more solutions you can use to make your life easier. Click here.

Can I Use an External Keyboard with My Laptop?

//
I just got a new Lenovo laptop and I’m having the darnedest time typing on it. I’m upgrading from a PC. I used to use this wonderful Windows ergonomic keyboard, which I loved and cherished. I had no issues or problems and I knew where everything was. With all of these newly built laptops now, I’m forced to keep my palms straight and elbows in. I can’t stand it. I constantly miss keys, touching the middle pad thingy. I’m constantly misspelling words, going back and backspacing words because I’ve hit the Enter key instead of the Shift key, cursing like mad. I’m going insane. Is there any way that I can just plug my old ergonomic keyboard back into the USB port, slap cardboard over the laptop keyboard, and go about my regular carefree life? Please say there’s a way!

I feel your pain. My dissatisfaction with the keyboard on my Microsoft Surface prevents me from using it more. It’s not a bad keyboard. I’m sure that it works well for most people. It’s just not particularly suited for my large hands and fat fingers.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Yes

The short answer to your question is yes. If you have a USB-plug keyboard, plug it in. It should start working in a few seconds. I do it all the time.

In fact, I have a friend who’s borrowing a laptop of mine that has a bad key on it. Rather than swapping out the laptop based on its usage, it’s more effective to just give her use a USB keyboard to use with it.

USB KeyboardThe only time that this may not work is if you’re dealing with an older keyboard – one with the round plugs at the end of its cable: the PS2 port, the PS2 connector, or the DIN connector. While there may be some USB adapters available for those, they may not work in a situation like this.

But if your keyboard is USB, plug it in! You can even plug in more than one keyboard. It will work.

31 comments on “Can I Use an External Keyboard with My Laptop?”

  1. Just remember to make sure that the two keyboards are sympathetic or you can find that there are some irritants to put up with regarding the less important keys
    being in another position to that which you expect. I know, I have tried it – an Acer is not the best at being compatible. Also, Leo’s suggestion that you can use two keyboards (I know he was joking) but you can overload the laptop’s ability to cope
    with additional plugins.

    • Actually I’ve never heard of a problem plugging in multiple keyboards. Keyboard processing is such a small task for the computer I don’t expect it to have problems coping.

      • I forgot to mention that the new Lenovo laptop I purchased was a TELETYPE keyboard, which I never bothered to notice when I bought it (I know, duh!), But THANK you for all your responses, especially you Leo, I’ll plug’er in and give’er a try. It’s so good to know!

    • Leo is correct: one can have several keyboards plugged in at once. Heck, just for the fun of it, I plugged three USB keyboards into a laptop and they all worked just fine, including the laptop’s keyboard. Were there enough USB ports, you could plug a hundred in and the laptop could cope.

  2. Have you had any experiences with ‘intermittent’ laptop screens? When I move the screen it planks out (goes all crazy)…I would appreciate your feedback…

  3. Yes PS2 to USB adapters actually work. A few years ago when still new to technology, we bought a keyboard at a special price due to the irritation of laptop keyboards not having the number pad. Imagine our surprise to discover it had a round connector which could fit nowhere on our laptop.

    Most stores did NOT have the adapter but we persisted and finally got one which is still working now.

  4. Unless I’m traveling, I usually use my laptop with a USB keyboard and mouse. It just works a whole lot better.

    When I travel, I usually still bring the mouse and turn off the touchpad. I’ve done too many accidental things, even after turning down the sensitivity.

    About the only time the touchpad gets used is when either me or my wife (the one of us who is NOT driving) is using the laptop to work the GPS software and figure out where we went wrong 🙂

  5. OK i was hoping that this will work. if i connect an external keyboard with the usb port, can i use it while in BIOS or at the initial windows user login screen, my laptops’s keyboard port with the motherboard was damaged , so i was just asking,
    thanks.

  6. I’m trying to use a USB one instead of the stock one because its damaged but how can I disable the one to rely on the USB one entirely?? The shift key is stuck which is messing with my USB keyboard

  7. I also want to use a USB keyboard on this dang Toshiba Satellite I use from my workplace. there is a problem with the keyboard software, or interface. or something – which apparently is something Toshiba has yet to fix – it is NOT the touch pad, not the driver and not the keyboard. I’ve spent the last year trying to fix it and it cannot be fixed. I am now getting an external USB keyboard for it. Is there a way to disable the laptop keyboard then. If it will still work even with the USB keyboard plugged in then the problem I am having with it will still creep up to create problems if the USB keyboard is sitting on top of it. Summary: I want to TURN OFF the laptop keyboard so I can use the external one with no worry of interference from the laptop keyboard. Many Thanks for sharing your advice 🙂

  8. Hello, I would like to say that I have a old keyboard with ps/2 plugin (round). But recently I bought a laptop which has no ps/2 plugin point, but only usb hubs. I had got a habit of typing with my old keyboard,. Is there any way to keep my old key.board in use ? .Can I somehow connect it to my laptop with any sort of external device, which will work properly ? . Please help me sort out this matter… I shall be kind enough to you….. thanks

  9. Hi. Purchased a USB dynex keyboard. Hp Elitebook 8440p will not install the keyboard. Error 43. Tried uninstalling/reinstalling in Device manager. Says software is okay. Not sure how to proceed.

  10. Unfortunately, “just plugging in my USB external keyboard and it will work” doesn’t! I have rebooted and done everything else I can think of, but the external keyboard won’t respond. Any further suggestions?

  11. I plugged in a keyboard into my netbook but some of the keys doesn’t work. I tried plugging the keyboard into a pc and it works fine. Has anyone had this problem before?

  12. I just brought my new laptop (lenovo), but when I tried to connect an external key board to my laptop its is not working people can u suggest

    • This is one of those things that should “just work.” When it doesn’t my first thought goes to a faulty keyboard. So the first thing to do is to try another keyboard and see what happens.

  13. Amazingly I cannot configure my USB keyboard independently. My USB keyboard is US layout and my laptop keyboard is UK. Yet I can find nowhere in Windows 10 to tell it this. I can add loads of languages and input methods but nowhere can I say what layout goes with what keyboard. I can do this when I plug a monitor in but not a keyboard. I’ve so far seen nothing in Windows 10 that is better than 7. It is a real backward step for Microsoft. Did they lose their best developers to Google, or maybe they’ve just gotten lazy?

    • I have a similar setup with a US laptop and a German USB keyboard. You can scroll through the input languages by clicking Windows key+spacebar. Of course, this isn’t automatic, but it least it’s pretty quick and easy.

    • It might work, but if you spilled beer on the keyboard, it would also likely have damaged other components of the laptop. I’d bring it into a shop and try a keyboard out before buying it.

    • You might try going to the support page for that keyboard an the Microsoft website and downloading and installing the driver for that keyboard You can Google: microsoft wireless keyboard drivers.

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article. Comments indicating you've not read the article will be removed.
  • Comment on the article. New question? Start with search, at the top of the page. Off-topic comments will be removed.
  • No personal information. Email addresses, phone numbers and such will be removed.
  • Add to the discussion. Comments that do not — typically off-topic or content-free comments — will be removed.

All comments containing links will be moderated before publication. Anything that looks the least bit like spam will be removed.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.