General Question

ETpro's avatar

What's the best way to renew worn off letters on a laptop keyboard?

Asked by ETpro (34505points) August 14th, 2013

The white lettering on the A and S keys is gone. The top half of the letter E has disappeared as well. How clunky are those stick-on letters for laptop keyboards? Is it better, instead, to use some sort of pen to re-letter keys by hand as required? If so, what sort of pen works? What’s the best way to repair the wear on key faces?

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28 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Best to simply rely on your memory. If you touch type, your fingers will do the walking for you

The next to go will be the T.

Possibly replace the caps? Call the place where you bought the keyboard. Or just spring for a new keyboard.

elbanditoroso's avatar

My experience is that the stick on letters begin to peel off within a week, primarily due to wear and (to a lesser degree) sweat and the acids that come off your skin.

One can purchase replacement laptop keyboards for not much money – $25 or so. It’s possible for you to replace it yourself, but you could take it to a computer shop as well. That’s the only way to get something that will work indefinitely.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I can’t imagine someone as tech savvy as you @ETpro needs to actually look at the keyboard to type…

I agree with @elbanditoroso though, only surefire way I know is to actually replace them. Sometimes you can find individual replacement keys for your model so you can pop the old one off and just replace the damaged ones instead of the whole thing.

ETpro's avatar

@gailcalled It’s a laptop and I am out of ports to plug in external peripherals, so a stand-alone keyboard isn’t an option. Granted touch typing doesn’t require visible lettering, but it just looks shabby.

@elbanditoroso Thanks for the words of warning re the legend stickers. That’s exactly what I was concerned with. That would only make it look worse.

@uberbatman I’ve never taken a laptop apart and looked at what’s required to replace individual keys or the entire keyboard. Has anyone ever tried it, and if so, what does it entail?

Fyrius's avatar

Learn touch typing instead :D

[/non-helpful answer]

dabbler's avatar

Laptop keyboards are usually one module and how difficult that is to replace depends on your make/model. Some the Macs are extremely easy to replace (two screws). A lot of the windows laptops are also easy, although I did run across one that required removing everything out the back in order to remove the keyboard.
Your source for a new keyboard might be able to provide how-to advice about removing the worn keyboard.
I suggest grocking around on youtube for a how-to for your model to assess how big this project would be for your machine.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@dabbler is correct. On mine (ASUSK52F) it was 7 screws on the back, three screws inside, and plugging in a cable. Not all that challenging.

Buts ome manufacturers make this more challenging. Look at the repair manuals.

ragingloli's avatar

Buy a new keyboard

ETpro's avatar

@dabbler Thanks. @elbanditoroso Mine’s an ASUS as well. Sounds within my capabilities, I build up all my tower machines from parts I buy.

@ragingloli Someone here PM’d me. They are waiting delivery of a set of glow-in-the-dark stickons. I’ll just wait and see how the work out before deciding, because while @Fyrius may have missed the fact in the conversation above, I do know touch typing. :-)

YARNLADY's avatar

I would try the stick on letters. Even if you have to replace them every once in awhile, it is a cheap way to fix.

You could try to find some white ink and a fine tip pen, but even that will eventually wear off.

gailcalled's avatar

@ETpro: We can have a whip-round so that you can buy a new keyboard. Just say the word.

Jeruba's avatar

The obvious answer is to get a new keyboard. They’re inexpensive.

But that’s not what I did. I went to Michael’s and found some stick-on letters that looked exactly like old typewriter keys, complete with the raised circular rim. I loved them! I did my first typing on an old Royal that had keys exactly like that.

I should have bought all they had. When I went back, the design had been discontinued, and I haven’t been able to find them since. They’re worn down almost to nothing now, except for the Q, Z, and X.

I think it’s deplorable that the markings on so many devices are thin, superficial external applications that wear off quickly, not just from keyboards but from the dials and faces of things, including curling irons and even major appliances like stoves.

anartist's avatar

I bought really nice stick-on letters on transparent material from DataCal or they have them on black or white I think. I didn’t even need to put them on every key, the match was that good.

ETpro's avatar

@YARNLADY Excellent point. Paint would probably wear off pretty rapidly and might feel a bit strange to boot.

@gailcalled Ha! Maybe I could make a project. Surely, I’d attract a sympathetic following. :-)

@Jeruba If I see any such keys, I will let you know. My own first experience was on an old pre WWII Underwood Master like this.

@anartist Thanks. Good info.

Jeruba's avatar

@ETpro, the one I started on was from the 1930s and looked a lot like this. My mother bought it in Canada in the 1940s. She typed my father’s dissertation on it in the 1950s. What a workhorse that old box was.

Before using stickers, I did try painting letters on. They wore or chipped off very quickly—a relief, actually, because they looked extremely ugly.

ETpro's avatar

@Jeruba That’s gorgeous.

Thanks for confirming my concern with hand calligraphy for repair. I studied drafting and worked in drafting and engineering for years, so I could match the look of the original, but if it’s going to flake right off, why bother?

Jeruba's avatar

I even covered my paint job with several coats of clear nail polish, but it didn’t help.

The typewriter had the black and red ribbon, with a little switch that changed from one color to the other. It was a long while before computer printers could print in anything but black, but we could change colors in the middle of a word more than 50 years ago.

ETpro's avatar

@Jeruba Thanks for the warning.

anartist's avatar

@Jeruba the keyboard equivalent of Monkey Jesus?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I bought the stickers you pointed out above and am disappointed. In their ad they say “GLOW in the Dark Stickers” and “Glowing Keyboard Stickers”. They lie!
After you get them you can see on the package in small print: “MyGlowKeys all glow from the light of the monitor.” That does not help if you have a remote monitor, and it sure as heck does not Glow in the Dark!

The MyGlowKeys stickers do not glow in the dark! They will fluoresce if you shine a UV blacklight on them. But clearly, this is false advertising.

If they lie about something as basic as that, I have to wonder about how long they will stay on the keyboard.
I will report back. In the meantime, spread the word.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@LuckyGuy I noticed that on @ETpro ‘s link
“Made with a patented flourescent ink, MyGlowKeys keyboard labels seem to burn brightly with just ambient light from your monitor.”

elbanditoroso's avatar

@uberbatman —the words “seem to” are pretty damning…

LuckyGuy's avatar

The largest font, with the exclamation points says: “Glow in the Dark Stickers!”.
Not true! I put them in the sun and then went into my darkroom. Nothing! It is BS.
It does ‘glow” if I hit it with UV-A. but that is not from my monitor. (Don’t ask.)
Very misleading indeed.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@elbanditoroso exactly what I was thinking when I read it.

ETpro's avatar

@LuckyGuy and all. Thanks for the warning. I’m OK with keeping a light on at night. Not a black light, though.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I’m still astounded that you look at the keyboard to type…

gailcalled's avatar

As long as I have a few letters for finger placement (J and F for the pointers and(A and ;/: for the pinkies ) and some clues on each line, I am fine.

@ETpro: I found $1.41 in change under my sofa cushions if you are starting a new-keyboard fund. Please advise.

ETpro's avatar

@uberbatman I am still astounded that you apparently don’t look at the screen and what’s said there before responding… How do you do that? :-)

What a cosmic coincidence. That happens to be the one and only amount that is greater than $1.40 yet less than $1.42. Mail it to the keyboard god, who shall surely see to its increase, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

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