How To Remove Keycaps (Keys) on Desktop & Laptop Keyboards

Ever wondered how to remove keycaps? Sometimes you need to, but the removal method won’t always be straightforward.

Stick around and we’ll talk about removing keycaps!

A Brief on Keycaps and When To Remove Them

So, it’s important to clarify what a Keycap actually is and what kind of keyboards even have keycaps.

Proper, discrete keycaps are largely relegated to mechanical keyboards and membrane keyboards. This is where separate “keycaps” are placed over the switches (or rubber domes, in membrane’s case), and can be removed or replaced at will.

Smaller, more sleek keyboard designs (like chiclet or laptop keyboards) may not have removable keycaps at all.

In some cases, removing a keycap (or key) may require use of a special tool to prevent damage to the key unit.

How To Remove Keycaps on Desktop Keyboards

Desktop Keycap ReplacementDesktop Keycap Replacement

Image Credit: Razer

On desktops and most full-sized mechanical or membrane keyboards in general, the process is simple.

If you’re using your fingers, pressing down on the keys surrounding the one you want to pluck out is a straightforward (if cramped) way of getting the job done.

If you don’t have a tool but still want to refine the process a bit, using a prying object or even a pair of paper clips can help make keycap removal easier, especially if you need to remove several keycaps.

There are also dedicated keycap removal tools worth considering for this workload.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of how to remove keycaps on a mechanical keyboard without a dedicated tool:

How To Remove Keycaps on Laptop Keyboards

Laptop Keycap RemovalLaptop Keycap Removal

Image Credit: PC Monkey

On laptop keyboards, wireless keyboards, or chiclet keyboards, be mindful of whether or not you can remove keycaps or keys at all.

In many cases, you actually aren’t supposed to remove keycaps and need to use tools to do so without breaking anything, if they’re removable at all.

In the case of my old MSI gaming laptop, I actually had to replace a few keycaps because the (“mechanical”) chiclet design didn’t allow free plucking or replacement of keys.

If you can remove the keycaps on a laptop keyboard, you’re more likely to need a tool, such as a small and thin flat-head screw-driver as seen in the image above.

Check your Laptop’s manual to see if the Keycaps are removable or not, before trying it out for yourself.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of how to remove and replace keys on a typical, modern laptop:


Do keycaps matter for gaming?

Not really. Keyboard Switch Type is going to have a much bigger impact on your typing and gaming experience in general.

Do keycaps wear out?

Yes, but usually only the printing on the surface of the keycap.

So over time some of your keyboard’s letters may become slightly less readable due to wear and tear, but this won’t do anything to prevent the actual key beneath your keycap from functioning when you press it.

Is it fine to pull keycaps by hand?

Yup! It can be uncomfortable, and in a few cases you don’t want to do it, but most keyboards with easily removable keycaps are just fine having keycaps removed and applied by hand.

Should you replace keycaps?

If you want, yes.

Both worn-out printing and the desire for a different feel/form factor on your existing switches can be good reasons for replacing your keyboard’s keycaps.

GMMK KeycapsGMMK Keycaps

Image Credit: Glorious Gaming

Just make sure that whatever replacement keycaps you get are compatible with your specific keyboard!

Over to You

And that’s all!

This was all I could think to cover answering how to remove keycaps since you usually can, and perhaps even should, more regularly to better clean your keyboard and keycaps themselves.

But what do you think? Do you have other questions about keycaps for keyboards in general?

Feel free to ask them in the comments below, where a CGD Team member (perhaps myself) will assist you. Alternatively, you can take longer-form tech discussions to the CGD Forum, where you can chat with our wider community of Enthusiasts and Experts.

Until then or until next time, happy computing! And consider giving any keyboard with removable keys a deep clean once a month.

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