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Jeruba's avatar

How can I label my keycaps so they don't fade away?

Asked by Jeruba (48711points) February 19th, 2010

Labels on things like keyboards, appliances, and other devices used to be embossed or embedded in such a way that they didn’t just rub off. Now they seem to be nothing but a little superficial paint or plastic stick-ons that wear off fast. What can I do to keep them legible? Nearly all my letter keys are too worn to read. I can’t see buying a new keyboard just for that, but I still have to look at the keyboard to type.

My pro-quality curling iron has also lost all the temperature markings, and a new one of those would cost much more than a new keyboard. The only thing wrong with it is that I don’t know which way on the dial makes it hotter.

Is there any way to treat these things when they’re new so that the markings remain visible? And is there anything I can put on them now that will last?

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19 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

Clear nail polish might work…..not sure.

shadling21's avatar

I doubt nail polish will work.

I’m dealing with the keyboard problem too. Definitely eager to hear suggestions. I was looking at keyboard stickers, but those may be a hassle.

mollypop51797's avatar

@lilikoi, I was just going to say the SAME exact thing! jinx! I agree, I’m thinking that dabbing on a little bit of clear nail polish should help..or it may help. Again, I’m not positively sure… maybe getting clear sticker or something and putting them on top of the keyboard or…hmm..

lilikoi's avatar

You could always paint the letters back on with nail polish or similar. It has never been a problem for me, as I don’t look at the keyboard when I type. So another, perhaps the least attractive, solution would be to learn how to type without looking at the keyboard – you’ll be able to type much faster, too.

Merriment's avatar

By the time I wear my letters off there is usually so much food down in there that I am glad to see it go the ants seem sad about it tho’

I would think that you could use invisible tape to tape over each key when they are new. Once they are gone it’s hard to get anything to stay for very long…maybe if you engraved the letter on the key with a Dremel and painted down in the sunken part it would last longer.

buckyboy28's avatar

If you have $1600 lying around, you can pick up one of these bad boys.

marinelife's avatar

I hear you, Jeruba! My E is gone and my A is an ’.

Jeruba's avatar

Choosing utility over aesthetics, I used a silver Sharpie to mark the keycaps. It wore off in a few days. Because one of my big problems is between the I and the O, I finally took a looseleaf reinforcement “O” sticker and stuck it on the O key. It has lasted for about a month but is in tatters now. I spend a lot of time correcting typos in everything I write.

I just painted some clear nail polish on the | and \ key to see what happens to the key. But I seldom use that one, so it won’t really test wear. Nail polish wears off my nails so fast, without constant pounding, that I can’t imagine it’d last very long on the busy portions of a keyboard.

@Merriment, that is how the keys on some old typewriters, real ones, were done, if I am not mistaken. They lasted. Old computer keyboards were done differently, too: the letters seemed fused in the plastic somehow and not just floated on top.

@lilikoi, that would be ideal, but I failed touch typing in high school because by then I had already been typing for 10 years by my own method, which is half by touch and still requires visual anchors. I’ve been at it like this for so many decades now that there really is no other practical way for me.

liminal's avatar

Regarding the keyboard you can use the sharpie and then put a transparent keyboard protector over it. I think they there might be protectors with letters on them. The covers take a little getting used to. I use something called an iskin for my macbook that is responsive and doesn’t interfere with typing.

buckyboy28's avatar

@Jeruba How long have you had that keyboard for? Is it a laptop or desktop?

If it’s a desktop, I might consider getting a new keyboard. They are pretty inexpensive and a lot of never models have a lot of great features and shortcuts built in.

If it’s a laptop, you might be able to get individual replacement keys for your laptop from the manufacturer or even from a third party seller online. They should be inexpensive as well.

ChaosCross's avatar

Nail polish should work, just be sure to tape on your caps lock key: BILLY MAYS

Jeruba's avatar

@buckyboy28, desktop, so the keyboard is theoretically detachable. I’ve had it for about a year and a half. Getting to the place where it plugs in would be a nightmare, so I am putting it off for as long as possible.

@ChaosCross, I don’t get it.

plethora's avatar

For the keyboard, go to and buy one of their keyboard covers. The letters stay and it does not interfere with the touch of the keyboard. They are very good.

mrentropy's avatar

I’m with @buckyboy28! Put up your first born and get that keyboard.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks, @plethora, but I don’t see anything there for a detached non-Apple keyboard.

liminal's avatar

This company makes them for standard keyboards:

ratboy's avatar

I don’t understand the need, but you can just tattoo your kneecaps.

Merriment's avatar

@ratboy – HAHAHAHAHAHA I’m so glad someone else misread it too! I saw “kneecaps” plain as day when I first read the question!

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