How to Remove Mechanical Keyboard Keys


Removing your keycaps is necessary to give your mechanical keyboard a good clean. Luckily, it’s a super process and we’ll walk you through the steps.

All you’ll need for this a keycap puller and your keyboard. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Get a Keycap Puller (Or A DIY One)

Plastic vs Wire Keycap Puller

To efficiently remove your keycaps, you’ll need a keycap puller on-hand. You could use your fingers if you want, but it will be a slow and painful process.

We recommend getting a wire keycap puller because they are less likely to scratch the sides of your keycaps. A plastic keycap puller can scratch the sides when you try to snap it on.

Another option is to make your own, DIY style. We’ll go more into this later.

You can choose between the following options as your keycap puller:

  1. Wire keycap puller (preferred)
  2. Plastic keycap puller
  3. DIY keycap puller
  4. Your fingers – ouch.

Step 2: Insert Keycap Puller Onto Keycap

The next step is to insert your keycap puller.

A wire keycap puller involves sliding the metal wires under the bottom of the keys so you can pull them off.

A plastic keycap puller involves sliding it over the keycaps until the plastic snaps underneath the keycap.

You’re basically trying to get enough leverage so you can pull up on the keycap to overcome the friction between the keycap and the stem of the switch underneath.

If you’re using your fingers, getting the first keycap off is the hardest part, you’ll probably need to use your finger nails. Once you have one keycap off, it should be easier to get underneath the rest of them from the exposed area.

Step 3: Gently Pull Until the Keycap is Removed

Now all you need to do is pull.

You’ll want to gently pull and wiggle the keycap puller with increasing force until the keycap comes off. If you try to yank the keycaps off it can damage the stem or even yank the whole switch out.

Take a little bit of care during this process.

The larger keys, such as the spacebar and shift key, will be a bit tougher to remove because the keycap is attached to the stabilizer stems. For these keys it’s best to remove from one side first and then the other.

And that’s it! Pretty simple, right?

How to Make a DIY Keycap Puller

If you don’t have a keycap puller on-hand, another option is to make one!

All you’ll need it a paper clip and your fingers. This is not a great replacement for a keycap puller, but can be done in a pinch if you need to take off one of your keycaps.

Simply take a paper clip, unfold it into a straight line, and then make an L shape.

Then all you need to do is slide it under a keycap and then lift. The keycap should pop right off.

It’s not perfect and may need to be reformed many times before all your keys are pulled, but it’s super simple.

You can see a simple example in this YouTube video. For a keycap puller that you can reuse, look at this simple video here.

DIY paperclip keycap puller
L-shape of DIY Keycap puller

Why Remove Your Keycaps?

If you’re looking this article up, chances are it’s for one of these reasons. Here’s what else you can do while your keycaps are removed!

  • Clean your keyboard: If you remove your keycaps, you can give your keyboard the deep clean it deserves! Now is the time to clean off all of the gunk and dust bunnies that have accumulated over the past few months.
  • Fix your switches: After heavy usage or if gunk gets inside them, your switches can get sticky or backed up. With the keycaps off, now is the perfect time to replace the switches or clean them out.
  • Replace your keycaps: There are few ways better to give your keyboard a facelift than by replacing your keycaps. Check out a new set of PBT keycaps and see what will work the best with your setup!
  • Mod your keyboard: There are dozens of mods out there to improve your keyboard and the vast majority of them require you to remove your keycaps. Might as well keep going!

Conclusion

Removing your keycaps is a super simple process that anybody can do! Just follow the simple steps laid out in this guide and you’ll remove them in no time.

We highly recommend getting a wire keycap puller as it’s the easiest to use and won’t damage your keycaps like a plastic one will. Not to mention, it doesn’t hurt your fingers when you try to pry them off.

Happy typing!

Jake Harrington

Jake has been an avid mechanical keyboard user for the past six years. He has a background in Mechanical Engineering and wants to apply his expertise to break down how mechanical keyboards and other tech work to show the world all of the cool aspects of the hobby.

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