Over time, one or more of a laptop's keys may stop working due to the wear and tear of everyday use. While damage to a rarely-used key may not impede the laptop's functionality, a broken 'Fn' (function) key is a more serious problem because you will not be able to execute certain popular actions, such as switching between display modes. Depending on the type of damage, you can repair your laptop's 'Fn' key by fixing its assembly, or by replacing its mechanism with another key.
Things You'll Need
- Super glue
- Guitar pick
Raise the 'Fn' key from the keyboard. If the key is stuck in place, you can use a flat-ended tool, such as a guitar pick, to dislodge the key. Press down with your finger on the top left edge of the key, and insert the sharp end of the pick under the bottom right edge. Maneuver to pry the key loose.
Assemble the two parts of the retainer mechanism. When you dislodge the 'Fn' key from the keyboard, you will see that you have three separate plastic pieces -- the cap of the key, and two small plastic parts which together form the retainer; all keys are held to the base of the keyboard by their retainers. Assemble the retainer parts, and attach it back to the keyboard.
If you are unsure how to assemble the parts, use the guitar pick to gently dislodge the cap off from another key, making sure the retainers remain attached to the keyboard. Assemble the 'Fn' key's retainer parts by looking at the other key's exposed retainers.
Attach the retainer to the keyboard base. Depending on laptop manufacturer, there may be two to four points of contact between each key's retainer and the keyboard base. Look at the other key's exposed retainer, orientate it the same way and attach it to the keyboard base.
Check the silicone membrane. In a keyboard, the keys rest on soft silicone membranes which make the keys rise up as soon as pressure is relieved from them. In a broken key, the membrane may have been forced out of place, or may have been disfigured, rendering it unable to spring the key back up. If your 'Fn' key does not have a functional silicon membrane, you will have to compromise a rarely-used key by using its silicone membrane for the 'Fn' key.
Use a flat implement to remove the cap from the key you are going to sacrifice, and remove its retainer mechanism by carefully raising it from the keyboard base. Use a sharp tool such as a box-cutter, to cut the membrane from the base. Attach the silicon membrane to the base of the 'Fn' key, using a strong glue.
Attach the cap of the 'Fn' key. With the silicone membrane replaced, and the retainer membrane properly assembled and installed on the base, you can clip the 'Fn' cap back on to fix the key. Wait for the glue under the silicone membrane to dry, and then place the cap and gently force it until it snaps back in place.
Tips & Warnings
- If you have to repair your 'Fn' with another key's silicon membrane, make sure both the keys are of the same size. Some keys, such as the 'Up' and 'Down' directional keys are smaller.
- Be very careful about cutting the silicon membrane. If you do it improperly, you will end up with two broken keys.
- Photo Credit laptop image by Manika from Fotolia.com
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