Delete key not working on Mac? 11 Ways to fix it

Written By Vikhyat Rishi Reviewed By How-to Mac 13 Min Read

Are you among those who are facing issues with the delete button not working on Mac? If so, you’re not alone. This is a common issue that many MacBook users have encountered, and thankfully, there are a few simple steps that you can take to fix it. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to fix the delete key not working on MacBook.

  1. Clean your Mac keyboard
  2. Enable Keyboard Viewer
  3. Turn off Slow Keys on your Mac
  4. Check connection for wired keyboard
  5. Un-pair and re-pair your Bluetooth keyboard
  6. Restart your Mac
  7. Delete Keyboard PLIST file
  8. Reset PRAM or NVRAM on your Macbook
  9. Delete without using Delete key
  10. Reset your MacBook
  11. Contact Apple Support

1. Clean your Mac keyboard

If your Macbook delete key not working, try cleaning your keyboard first. Dust or debris can accumulate over time and cause the delete key to malfunction.

Here’s what you should do,

  • Shut down your Mac and disconnect it from external power sources.
  • Gently turn it upside down and tap on its back to dislodge any loose particles.
  • If the key feels too stiff, try pressing it repeatedly to loosen it.
  • Next, use a can of compressed air to blow away any remaining dust in between the keys.
  • If required, dampen a lint-free cloth with isopropyl alcohol and carefully wipe the surface of each key.
  • It is important to practice caution in this regard. Excess liquid or pressure can damage your device indefinitely.
  • Once cleaned, leave your system to dry out.

After a short duration, turn your Mac back on and check if the delete key is working properly again.

This meticulous cleaning process should help resolve issues with your delete key not functioning properly and restore its smooth operation with a professional touch.

2. Enable Keyboard Viewer

Now that cleaning is out of the way, it’s time to handle this problem professionally. When the delete key on your Mac starts to give you a hard time, Keyboard Viewer can serve as an effective solution. This feature allows you to see a virtual representation of your keyboard on the screen, highlighting pressed keys as you type.

Follow the steps discussed below to enable Keyboard Viewer for your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple logo ()System Settings.

    Click Apple Logo and System Settings in macOS Ventura
  2. Choose the Keyboard option from the menu.
  3. Hit Edit next to the Input Sources tab.

    Go to Keyboard, Edit
  4. Finally, toggle on the Show Input menu in menu bar.
  5. Select Done to exit the interface.

    Toggle on the Show Input menu in menu bar
  6. Now, click the Keyboard icon from the menu bar.
  7. Choose Show Keyboard Viewer.

    Select Show Keyboard Viewer
  8. Doing so, a virtual keyboard will appear on your screen.

This tool can help diagnose whether there’s a physical defect with your delete key or if it’s a software-related problem. Additionally, enabling this feature might serve as a temporary workaround until you find a permanent solution for fixing your delete key issue.

3. Turn off Slow Keys on your Mac

If you notice that the keys on your MacBook keyboard are responding slowly, it may be due to the Slow Keys feature being turned on. This means that you’ll have to press and hold the keys for a longer duration than usual before they appear on the screen. To resolve this issue:

  1. Navigate to Apple logo ()System Settings.

    Click Apple Logo and System Settings in macOS Ventura
  2. Head over to the Accessibility menu.
  3. Choose the Keyboard option.

    Accessibility, Keyboard
  4. Disable Slow Keys if enabled.

    Disable Slow Keys

Keep in mind that this solution may be applicable if you are using an older MacBook model or have enabled this particular accessibility feature intentionally.

4. Check connection for wired keyboard

Those who are equipped with a wired external keyboard for MacBook, I am not leaving you hanging. If the delete key on your keyboard is not working, it could be due to a problem with the keyboard’s connection.

  • Firstly, ensure that your keyboard is compatible with your MacBook. I prefer heading to the website of the keyboard or product description from the marketplace you purchased. Search for the model number of your Mac.
  • If everything seems alright, unplug your keyboard and clean the ports with a soft brush.
  • Gently clean the ports that might have accumulated dust over time.
  • Now plug in your keyboard again.
  • Finally, examine the cable for any visible damage or fraying that could impede its functionality.

If all the above factors are apparent, try connecting the keyboard to a different USB port on your MacBook, as there might be an issue with a specific port rather than the keyboard itself.

5. Un-pair and re-pair your Bluetooth keyboard

If you’ve been using a wireless keyboard with your MacBook and it has fallen victim to a non-responsive delete key, one potential solution to fix this issue is to un-pair and re-pair your Bluetooth keyboard.

To begin,

  1. Navigate to the System Settings on your Mac and access Bluetooth.
  2. Locate your keyboard among connected devices and click Disconnect.

    Disconnect the Keyboard
  3. Click the info icon next to the paired keyboard.

    Click the info icon next to the paired keyboard
  4. Choose Forget This DeviceForget Device when prompted.

    Click Forget This Device in Keyboard

    Click Forget Device when prompted
  5. Once the keyboard is successfully unpaired, leave it to rest for a while.
  6. Now, put your keyboard in the discoverable mode.
  7. Wait for your Mac to identify your keyboard.
  8. Locate the same and click Connect.

    Connect the Keyboard
  9. Follow the on-screen commands to successfully pair the keyboard with your Mac.

These steps tend to refresh the connection link between the devices. Once your keyboard is paired again, try using the backspace key like you normally do. You should be able to resolve any issues you may be experiencing with your delete key functionality.

6. Restart your Mac

Even after trying these methods so far, if none of these have worked for you, restarting your device should help you in reviving your Mac keyboard. Follow the steps discussed below to comply:

  1. Begin by clicking on the Apple logo () located in the top-left corner of your screen.
  2. Select Restart.
  3. Alternatively, you can press Control + Command + Power button keys simultaneously to trigger a system restart.

After your Mac reboots, check if the Delete key functionality has been restored. If restarting doesn’t rectify the issue, proceed with the solutions discussed below.

7. Delete Keyboard PLIST file

If you’re still encountering the problem of the delete key not functioning properly on your MacBook, another potential solution involves deleting the Keyboard Property List (PLIST) file. These files store various keyboard settings, including keyboard preferences, on your computer.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Click Go from the menu bar.
  2. Select the Go to folder option.

    Click Go, Go To folder
  3. Copy and paste the ~/Library/Preferences path.
  4. Hit Return to proceed.

    Go to ~:Library:Preferences
  5. Now locate the following files from the menu:
    • apple.Keyboard-Settings.extension.plist
  6. Select both and Move to Bin.

    Delete keyboard plist files
  7. Finally, close the menu and Restart your Mac, as we discussed above.
  8. Upon restarting, the deleted files will be recreated automatically.

This process essentially resets your keyboard settings to default values and has been known to resolve issues with unresponsive or non-functional keys like the delete key on a MacBook.

However, it is crucial to exercise caution when modifying system files, so I highly recommend backing up important data before executing such actions.

8. Reset PRAM or NVRAM on your Macbook

Let’s kick our guide up a notch. By resetting your PRAM or NVRAM on your Mac, you can address the backspace key not functioning on your Mac promptly.

This method tends to refresh the overall system settings, including those related to keyboard configurations. Once the process is successfully completed, check if your delete key is working like before. If not, there may be other underlying errors that require professional assistance.

9. Delete without using Delete key

If you’ve tried all the solutions mentioned above and none of them work, then it’s possible that your Delete key is no longer functioning. Keyboards, like all electronic devices, have a limited lifespan and eventually wear out.

However, if all other keys on your keyboard are still working fine, you may not need to replace the entire keyboard. In this case, there are several alternative ways to delete text on your Mac without using the Delete key.

Here’s a set of commands you can use for your convenience.

  • To delete the character before the cursor, press Ctrl+H.
  • To delete the character before the cursor, press Ctrl+D.
  • To delete text, highlight it and right-click the same → Select Cut.
  • To delete from the cursor to the end of the line or paragraph, Press Ctrl+K.

These should come in handy until you find a permanent resolve.

10. Reset your MacBook

As we are approaching the end, there is a final solution that may help you to effectively solve the error of the delete key not functioning on your Mac. If you wish, you can reset your Mac to factory settings. This will eliminate all bugs and errors in your system, ensuring complete recovery as far as software glitches are concerned.

However, before you proceed, make sure that you run a quick system backup so that you don’t lose anything important in the process. By resetting your MacBook in this manner, there is a high likelihood that it will restore full functionality to the troublesome delete key once more.

11. Contact Apple Support

If you have attempted all the suggested solutions and the issue still persists, it is highly recommended that you reach out to Apple Support for further assistance. They possess specialized expertise and knowledge and can provide tailored guidance that is specific to your MacBook model and software version.

Restore and recover!

In conclusion, the delete key is an essential component of any keyboard, including the MacBook. The methods discussed above, including resetting the keyboard configuration and cleaning the keyboard, are effective ways to address the issue. It’s crucial to maintain your MacBook’s keyboard to ensure its longevity and optimal performance.

Thank you for reading. Please take a moment to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Vikhyat has a bachelor's degree in Electronic and Communication Engineering and over five years of writing experience. His passion for technology and Apple products led him to the tech writing space, where he specializes in writing App features, How-to guides, and troubleshooting guides for fellow Apple users. When not typing away on his MacBook Pro, he loves exploring the real world.
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