This tutorial will illustrate how to remove a damaged or worn laptop keyboard, and replace it with a new unit. This process can be followed for many typical models, including brands such as Acer, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, HP, Sony, and Toshiba. We’ll discuss some tips and tricks that you may need with laptops of different designs.
Warning: Use of this guide is at your own risk. This is a general guide not specific to any laptop model, therefore your laptop may be different. Performing this repair may void any applicable manufacturer warranties. It is possible to cause serious damage to your machine whilst attempting a repair of this nature, and we can not be responsible in the case of any personal or property damages. If you do not feel comfortable at any point, seek out professional repair.
Here we have an HP Pavilion ZE2000 series laptop. The keyboard is fairly easy to change out on this model. We have the full keyboard available here. Sometimes if only a key or two broke off, replacing the individual key can be a good option. We have replacement key kits available for most laptop models. On Machinaelectronics.com just browse the parts for your model at the left.
First, always turn off the laptop, unplug the power cable, and remove the battery.
For most models, you will need to remove the plastic panel above the keyboard to gain access for removing the keyboard. This is the panel that often has the power button on it. To do this, there are screws holding it on from the underside. HP is nice in that they usually place a little keyboard icon next to the screws that need to be removed. In this case the screws are located underneath the battery. If your laptop has no keyboard icons, you may end up removing more screws than necessary. That’s fine, just be sure to make a note of where each screw belongs. We’ve seen a few models that use no screws to hold the plastic keyboard panel on (some Acer and Toshiba models namely).
The plastic panel above the keyboard needs to be removed. Once the screws are removed it snaps off. Note that some models may have screws in this panel from the rear of the hinges. First, loosen part of the panel by prying up on it. A plastic spudger tool (“black stick”) is best because it won’t mar the plastic, but it can also be done with a flat screwdriver or fingernails. You may have to search for a good spot to start with.
Once you have it started, the plastic snaps underneath should allow you to continue removing the panel. Make sure to open the lid / screen of the laptop all the way so that this panel can come off, since it often covers the hinges too. If you reach a point where the panel just won’t budge, there is usually a screw remaining on the underside.
Use caution when removing the panel, some models may have buttons, speakers, or other features mounted to this panel, and their wires may need to be disconnected from the motherboard. The model we have here has no wires going to the motherboard.
Access the Keyboard
With panel completely removed, you can now see the screws at the top of the keyboard holding it in place. Some models may have screws from the underside of the laptop going into the back of the keyboard, but this model does not. You can tell by looking at the replacement keyboard to see if there are any screw posts on the back of it.
Remove the screws that secure the keyboard.
Tilt the keyboard up and slide the tabs at the bottom of the keyboard out from under the casing.
Flip the keyboard over to access the flexible ribbon connection cable underneath. This cable is connected directly to the motherboard so be mindful not to stress the cable when flipping it over.
Most models connect the keyboard cable to the motherboard by what is known as a ZIF connector. This plastic connector clamps down on the cable and is very fragile. This component is part of the motherboard, and is often near impossible to find for sale on its own, so be careful! Many models like this one have a connector that slides outwards a few millimeters, and some others have a hinged connector that flips up. A few models have a connector that is included with the keyboard unit and pushes onto a socket on the motherboard (some Apple, Dell, and IBM models for example). We recommend non-experts gently slide the connector out with fingers and not a tool, since the tool can slip and break the connector.
Once you have loosened the connector, the cable will be very easy to remove. Slide the cable out from the connector to remove it.
Now we are ready to insert our new keyboard. Bend the keyboard cable under the keyboard so that it can reach the connector. The cable should never be twisted, it should always be flat.
Slide the keyboard cable into the ZIF connector. The inset pictured shows how a sliding ZIF connector should look when it is open.
Clamp the keyboard cable into place, by sliding both sides of the ZIF connector back into place. You can give the cable a very gentle tug to make sure it won’t come disconnected.
Tilt the keyboard a bit and slide the tabs at the bottom of the keyboard under the plastic casing. Then lay the keyboard flat in its place. The cable underneath will be gently folded, that is normal.
Replace the screws that we had removed earlier so the new keyboard won’t be going anywhere.
Put the plastic keyboard cover back where it goes. We have an interesting example here, looking at the inset pictured we can see this keyboard cover has tabs sticking out on the left side that aren’t present on the right. That means the left side on this model needs to be tucked in first.
Be sure to reattach any cables or connectors under the panel if applicable, and begin snapping the keyboard cover panel back on by pushing down. All areas of the panel should be flush with the rest of the laptop when it is fully replaced.
Put all of the remaining screws back in their respective places, and you’re finished!