Random things are happening when using my computer, what should I do?

If when you are using your computer random letters are appearing that you did not press or items are selected without you choosing anything this usually indicates a problem with your keyboard or your trackpad (for laptops). 

30 December 2012 Frequently Asked Questions  General Q&A

If when you are using your computer random letters are appearing that you did not press or items are selected without you choosing anything this usually indicates a problem with your keyboard or your trackpad (for laptops).  You may also find you are unable to log on to the computer or when it starts up, menus appear and items are selected before you can do anything.

This is a fairly common issue and is usually caused by one or more keys being "stuck" down, even if they do not appear to be depressed.  Stuck keys are often the result of liquids accidentally spilt onto the keyboard or debris such as half a pound of muffin crumbs!

There are a few things you can do yourself to fix this kind of problem:

  1. Make sure your computer is turned off.
  2. Vacuum around the keyboard keys to remove the muffin crumbs.
  3. If this is a laptop, vacuum around the mouse buttons and gently clean the trackpad up to the edges using a slightly damped cloth before drying the area.  A toothbrush can be used to dislodge any dirt around the edges.
  4. Now press and release each key on the keyboard quickly at least three times, be quite firm in the pressure applied so as to loosen the stuck key.
  5. Finally, using the palm of your hands, press and release groups of keys in each area of the keyboard several times, again to loosen any stuck keys.
  6. Now switch your computer on and see if the problem is resolved, if not repeat the procedure one more time.

If after following the above the computer is still behaving oddly and it seems likely the problem is with the keyboard/trackpad then there are a few more things you can try however at this stage it is likely this is a hardware fault and so not something you will be easily able to resolve without further assistance.

However some other things to try:

  1. Find an external USB keyboard/mouse and try your computer with those.  Note if your computer is a laptop this may not resolve the problem until the internal keyboard/trackpad are disabled which involves access to it's hardware configuration menu.
  2. Try to work out which key is being pressed down, if the same key is repeating then that is the one to focus your "release" efforts on.  If things are being selected without you doing anything, then your "release" efforts should focus on the CTRL and SHIFT keys - common culprits.
  3. If the computer is a Windows PC, start the PC and keep pressing and releasing the F8 key after the manufacturers logo has appeared.  This will bring up a menu from which you should choose Safe Mode.  The PC will now start with the bare minimum and if it behaves itself then this may indicate the fault is with a misbehaving Windows application.

Many keyboard related issues are often the result of sticky keys, if the keyboard is actually faulty this will be apparent either by no reaction to certain keys or by duplicate keypresses or different letters when a key is pressed.

If there is a hardware fault, then a replacement desktop keyboard usually costs around £10+VAT and a replacement laptop would be £25-£50+VAT depending on the make/model.

Tags  buttons computer keyboard mouse not random response

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