The Tab key on the keyboard helps to perform various functions, from navigating Windows to helping alter any written document. One doesn’t realize how much the habit of using the Tab key is baked into our muscle memory until the key stop working.
Lately, many users have been experiencing such an issue on their Windows 11 system. Though the issue is peculiar, there are a lot of methods you can try to fix the problem on your PC, given that it is a software-based issue. In this guide, you’ll find an exhaustive list of fixes for the issue at hand.
1. Check the Hardware
The first and foremost step before you begin trying out fixing the issue is to inspect the Tab key physically and ensure there is no water damage or particles stuck under the key cap.
Additionally, press it a couple of times and make sure it feels perfectly normal. If you hear any squeaking or crackling sound or there’s resistance while pressing it, there could be a physical issue with the key and it might need to be replaced.
2. Connect an External Keyboard
Connecting an external keyboard is also a great option to ensure the problem is not hardware-based.
If the key tends to work when you have connected an external keyboard, it is not the operating system that needs to be fixed but the keyboard itself might need a replacement.
3. Run the Keyboard Troubleshooter
If you’ve ruled out hardware issues, the very next step is to find if there are any systemic or configuration issues with your keyboard. The keyboard troubleshooter will help you detect and resolve the issue.
First, head to the Start Menu and click on the ‘Settings’ app icon.
Next, make sure you have selected the ‘System’ tab from the left sidebar.
After that, from the right section of the window, click on the ‘Troubleshoot’ tile to proceed.
Next, click on the ‘Other troubleshooter’ tile present on the ‘Troubleshoot’ settings page.
Then, locate the ‘Other’ section on the page and then click on the ‘Run’ button present on the ‘Keyboard’ tile to run the keyboard troubleshooter.
Windows will then detect issues with your peripherals along with driver issues, if it finds any, and suggest changes and fixes on the same window. Follow the troubleshooter’s instructions to solve the issue.
4. Turn Off the Sticky and Filter Keys on your Computer
Sticky keys help you keep the modifier key active even when the physical key is pressed and released. Though the feature is amazing, it can at times interfere with the working of other keys. Moreover, many of the users have been able to resolve the problem using this method.
First, head to the Start Menu and click on the ‘Settings’ app icon to proceed.
Then, click on the ‘Accessibility’ tab from the left sidebar to continue.
Next, from the right section of the window, click on the ‘Keyboard’ tile.
Then, disable the toggle following the ‘Sticky Keys’ option. Similarly, disable the toggle for the ‘Filter keys’ option as well.
Once done, check if the key is functioning again.
5. Update the Keyboard Driver
There are three major ways you can update the Keyboard driver on your Windows device. You can either update it from the Settings app, use the Device Manager to search for the latest driver, or force update it.
To update the driver using the Settings app, head to the Start Menu and click on the ‘Settings’ tile.
Then, click on the ‘Windows Update’ tab from the left sidebar.
Next, click on the ‘Advanced Options’ tile from the right section to continue.
Next, click on the ‘Optional Updates’ tile to proceed.
Then, select the updates having the ‘keyboard’ as a suffix or prefix by clicking on the individual checkboxes.Finally, click on the ‘Download & install’ button.
Once installed, restart your PC and check if the key has started working again.
If you wish to update the driver using the Device Manager, head to the Start Menu and type Device Manager. Then, click on the ‘Device Manager’ tile to proceed.
After that, double-click on the ‘Keyboards’ option to expand the section. Then, right-click on the ‘HID keyboard device’ or ‘Standard PS/2 Keyboard’ and choose the ‘Update Driver’ option from the context menu. This will open a separate window on your screen.
Now, from the separately opened window, click on the ‘Search automatically for drivers’ to let Windows do the job for you. Otherwise, if you already have a driver package downloaded, click on the ‘Browse my computer for drivers’ option.
6. Enable Keyboard and Tablet Input Service
If you are experiencing this issue on other keys as well on your keyboard, there is a possibility that the Keyboard Service is stopped/disabled. Fortunately, you can simply start or re-enable it yourself.
First, head to the Start Menu and type Service to perform a search. Then, from the search results, click on the ‘Services’ tile.
Now, locate the ‘Microsoft Keyboard Filter’ service, and double-click on it. This will open a separate window on your screen.
Then, click on the dropdown menu followed by ‘Startup type’ and choose the ‘Automatic’ option and click on the ‘Apply’ and ‘OK’ buttons to save the changes.
Similarly, repeat the same process with the ‘Tablet PC Input Service’ option from the list.
7. Tweak Registry File
If you are experiencing the issue specifically when you are using the Alt+Tab shortcut, you can tweak a registry file that will revert the Alt+Tab interface to display thumbnails instead of Windows.
First, head to the Start Menu and type Registry to perform a search. Then, from the search results, click on the ‘Registry Editor’ option.
After that, type or copy+paste the below-mentioned address in the address bar and hit Enter to navigate to the directory.
After that, right-click on the right section of the window and hover over the ‘New’ option. Then, select the ‘DWORD’ option.
Afterward, rename the file to
AltTabSettings and double-click on it to open its properties.
After that, enter 1 in the value data field and click on the ‘OK’ button to save the changes.
Once done, restart your PC and check if the issue has been resolved.
8. Run DISM and SFC
There is a possibility of your system files being corrupted or damaged due to an incomplete Windows update or improper uninstallation of third-party apps. Otherwise, it could also be due to malware/ viruses on your system. Though the probability is highly unlikely, ensuring that it isn’t the case cannot hurt.
First, head to the Start Menu and type Terminal to perform a search. Then, from the search results, right-click on the ‘Terminal’ tile and click on the ‘Run as administrator’ option.
Now, an UAC (User Account Control) window will appear on your screen. If you are not logged in with an admin account, enter the credentials for one. Otherwise, click on the ‘Yes’ button.
After that, click on the ‘chevron’ (downward arrow) icon and click on the ‘Command Prompt’ option.
Then, type or copy+paste the below-mentioned command and hit Enter on your keyboard. This will restore the currently installed OS image on your device.
Afterward, type or copy+paste the following command to check and repair the system files on your PC.
Once successfully executed, restart your PC and check if you can update your PC.
9. Roll Back to a System Restore Point
If you noticed the problem after installing a third-party app or service and you have a previously created system restore point, you can easily roll back to it to resolve the issue.
Head to the Start Menu and type Control to perform a search. Then, from the search results, click on the ‘Control Panel’ tile to proceed.
After that, locate and click on the ‘Recovery’ tile from the grid of icons.
Next, click on the ‘Open System Restore’ option from the list. This will open a separate window on your screen.
From the separately opened window, click on the ‘Next’ button.
All created system restore points will be listed on the screen. Click to select the desired one and then click on the ‘Next’ button to initiate the rolling back process.
Next, a list of drives that will be impacted by the rollback will be displayed, along with the timestamp of the restore point created. You can also check the programs that will be affected; click on the ‘Scan for the affected programs’ button. A new window will appear on the screen.
On the new window, you can view the programs that will be deleted and the ones that will restore (since no programs will be affected on the test PC, the list in the screenshot below is empty). Click on the ‘Close’ button to navigate to the previous window.
Finally, click on the ‘Finish’ button to initiate the rollback process.
Once the rollback is complete, check if the key is functioning properly.
A dysfunctional Tab key is a peculiar issue. However, you will definitely be able to resolve the issue using the fixes mentioned in this guide.