The Laptop Repair Workbook

Copyright 2012 by Morris Rosenthal

All Rights Reserved

Replacing a Laptop Keyboard and Mouse

How to replace a Notebook Keyboard and Mouse with USB Adapter
First, if you're just trying to replace a key that came off, I have a whole illustrated procedure. When your laptop keyboard fails, you can usually buy a replacement for somewhere between $60 and $120, but putting it in is a real bear, and given the current prices laptops have fallen to, it's tough to justify as well. When you own the same notebook computer for as long as I have, the pointing device, be it a pad or an intellipoint thing, is going to fail. Laptop keyboard life is also somewhat limited compared to regular keyboards, hair winding around the works is a big problem, but I'd hate to encourage folks with limited mechanical skills to go prying off their keys because it takes some skill to get them back on. So, most notebooks have a PS/2 port to allow for an external mouse or keyboard, but few have both. You can try a PS/2 splitter if you can find one, but the more elegant solution is a USB to PS/2 adapter, shown at right.

USB Keyboard and Mouse Adapter

Computer End of USB Cable

The USB to PS/2 adapter comes equipped with a standard USB input, the rectangular shaped connector (left). The other end sports two PS/2 ports, green and purple, green is for mouse, purple is for keyboard. You don't have to use them both at the same time, but for a notebook with a failing keyboard and pointer (Ahem) it's a good solution. Windows has had native support for USB mice and keyboards at least as far back as Windows 98, I wouldn't bet on '95 as all the USB support was sketchy. The point is, as long as you're using WIndows 98 or later, you don't need any special software with the USB to PS/2 adapter.
So, what's the big deal about installing a USB adapter that I did a whole page about it? Try it when the laptop CD drive has failed:-) The CD drive on my notebook went south over a year ago and I never got around to replacing it because I figured with a failing keyboard and mouse, I should be looking for a new notebook. The solution is to actually install the USB to PS/2 adapter on another PC with the same version of Windows. Then, install it on the notebook, and every time Windows looks for a driver on the CD that doesn't work, point it to the A: drive instead, go to the other PC and copy the required file onto a floppy, and do sneaker net. It may have taken 20 minutes, but it's a once in a lifetime job, so it was worth it.

Female Mouse and Keyboard Connectors

A large number of keyboard, mouse, and peripheral problems aren't what they appear at first blush. I discuss troubleshooting peripherals in detail in the eBook version of The Laptop Repair Workbook and include a detailed flowchart with expanded text for troubleshooting peripheral problems. In case you're wondering, if you want to install real software, as in programs that won't fit on a floppy, onto a notebook with a dead CD drive, you can buy an external USB CD for much cheaper than a replacement drive for the notebook. Installing the software from the USB CD can be just as much fun as above, unless they provide the drive on a floppy, you'll have to install the software on another PC with the same OS first and then bring the required files over one at a time as Windows asks for them. You can use a Jump Drive instead of a floppy, though it's the same amount of work. BTW, I know I use laptop and notebook interchangeably, it's habitual, not intentional:-)

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