A common issue many people experience on Windows 10 is when the Windows key is not working. This issue can arise when you’re trying to use it to open the Windows Start menu or use keyboard shortcut keys.
Many of the Windows key fixes below are specifically related to Windows 10 bugs or features, but some of the basic fixes listed could also work for older versions of Windows.
Cause of Windows Key Not Working
Many things can cause the Windows key to cease working, including hardware issues, Windows 10 updates, Windows 10 settings, or simply having that key disabled.
The troubleshooting tips below will walk you through the most common (and simple to fix) causes, and finally, down to the more advanced troubleshooting tips.
How to Fix Windows Key Not Working in Windows 10
To fix the Windows key quickly, start with hardware-related issues before moving on to Windows 10 settings and software issues.
Restart your computer. While this may sound like a silly solution, it fixes most keyboard issues. A restart automatically resets any setting or stops any applications that may be causing conflicts with your Windows key. It is also a quick way to make sure that your Windows key is locked and not your computer itself.
Troubleshoot your Start menu. If the problem you’re having is that the Windows key doesn’t open the Start menu, but it works for keyboard shortcuts, the issue is likely your Start menu and not the Windows key itself.
Another way to confirm this is the case is by selecting the Windows Start icon with your mouse. If the Start menu still won’t open, then the issue is likely with the Start menu.
Make sure the Windows key isn’t locked. Some keyboards include a Windows Lock key with an indicator that will disable the Windows key, similar to the Num Lock key. It usually has the Windows logo with a lock next to it. Make sure the indicator light on this key is off.
Some gaming keyboards also let you press the Function (Fn) key and a function key (like F12) to enable or disable the Windows key. Refer to your keyboard user manual to determine if your dashboard has that keyboard shortcut feature. Repeating the keyboard shortcut will enable the Windows key.
Make sure to disable Sticky Keys. This feature helps people with disabilities who may struggle with pressing two keys at the same time. When enabled, Sticky Keys lets you press a Modifier Key (like Shift or Windows), and that key stays enabled until you press any other key. Disabling Sticky Keys will resolve abnormal Windows Key behavior.
The most likely behavior you’ll see if Sticky Keys is the problem is that other keys will act like you’re holding down the Windows key even when you aren’t. For example, pressing only “L” on the keyboard will lock your computer.
Perform hardware troubleshooting on your keyboard. Start by swapping keyboards (preferably with a newer keyboard) to see if you still have the same issue on your computer with a different keyboard. Clean the keyboard well to make sure dirt or grime isn’t blocking the Windows key. It frequently happens with mechanical keyboards. Check for damage like frayed cords and cracked or loose keys.
Even if you find your Windows key failure is hardware-related, don’t give up. There are things you may be able to do to fix a broken keyboard.
If you’re using a wireless keyboard, replace the batteries. Batteries with low power often lead to unpredictable keyboard behaviors, including intermittent Windows key failures. Make sure the wireless USB dongle that came with the keyboard hasn’t fallen out or is loose.
Turn off Filter Keys. Filter Keys is a Windows 10 feature that ignores keys you press multiple times. There is a known bug that causes unforeseen issues with many keyboards. Disable it by pressing the right Shift key for 8 seconds. A message will appear on the screen. Select Disable this keyboard shortcut in Ease of Access keyboard settings. Make sure you’ve set the Use Filter Keys toggle to Off. If you enabled this, it could be the cause of your Windows key not working.
If Use Filter Keys was already disabled, then that wasn’t the problem.
Disable Windows 10 Game Mode; a feature added to Windows 10 to make games run more efficiently and reliably. However, Game Mode optimization settings can sometimes cause unexpected keyboard behaviors, like the Windows key not working. You can also disable Game Mode on the Windows 10 Game Bar if you’ve enabled it.
Many gaming keyboards also have keyboard shortcuts that will enable or disable Game Mode. Check the keyboard user manual to learn more.
Remove the Scancode Map registry entry from the Keyboard Layout key. Many users report the Scancode Map registry entry can cause the Windows key to stop working. Fix this by opening the Registry Editor, navigating to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout\ and deleting the Scancode Map registry value from the Keyboard Layout key.
Before making any changes to the registry, always make sure you take a backup of the Windows Registry.
Update your Windows 10 hardware drivers. An outdated or corrupt keyboard driver could result in unexpected behavior, like the Windows key not working. Ensuring you have the latest driver could resolve these issues.
Run an SFC scan on your Windows 10 system to repair any Windows system files that might be corrupted due to a past virus or malware infection.
Scan your system for malware, and also check for any viruses. If nothing else has worked to this point, your system could be infected with malware or a virus. Running a scan will at least let you cancel out this possible cause.
If you’ve come this far and changing keyboards or the Windows 10 troubleshooting tips above haven’t resolved the issue, you may need to restore your Windows 10 system to an earlier restore point. If you don’t have a restore point, you may have to take the more drastic step of resetting your Windows 10 install to factory default.
How to Disable the Windows Key on Windows 10