How to Disable Keyboard on Macbook

Nicholas Russell
By Nicholas Russell 15 Min Read
15 Min Read

Hey there, just like you, I’m always on the lookout for cool tech tips and tricks. Today, let’s chat about something that might have you scratching your head if you’re a Mac user – disabling your Mac’s keyboard. It used to be pretty straightforward, but with the latest macOS Big Sur, things have gotten a bit trickier.

You might have come across websites saying you can just press Control + F1 and poof – your keyboard’s disabled. But, guess what? After digging around a lot, I found out it’s not that simple.

If you’re searching for an easy-peasy way to turn off your keyboard, the smart move is to get a nifty keyboard utility app that does the heavy lifting for you.

So, why am I talking about this? Well, I’ve been tinkering with both hardware and software for years, and I’m still picking up new stuff every day. And when I learn something cool, I can’t wait to share it with you.

In this article, we’re going to unravel the mystery of why the old “disable the keyboard” tricks don’t work anymore. We’ll dive into what’s up with the Control+F1 combo and what I’ve discovered it actually does.

Next, we’ll explore how you can actually turn off your keyboard, and why you might want to do this in the first place.

I know this can be a bit of a headache for many of you, so stick with me, and let’s get to the bottom of this together

Past Methods

Alright, let’s take a little trip down memory lane and see how things used to be done with older macOS versions. Disabling your keyboard wasn’t as tough as it is now. The go-to method was using something called ‘Mouse Keys’. Let me break it down for you:

  • Mouse Keys Magic: You’d hop into your Mac’s ‘System Preferences’, find ‘Universal Access’, and click on the ‘Mouse and Trackpad’ tab. Here, you’d turn on the ‘Mouse Keys’ option. Easy, right?
  • Option Key Shortcut: Some folks had a neat trick where they set up the ‘Option’ key to turn on ‘Mouse Keys’ by pressing it five times quickly. And for an extra twist, they’d disable the trackpad too. Sounds a bit odd, but it worked like a charm.
  • How Did This Help?: When ‘Mouse Keys’ was on, certain keys on your keyboard got a new job – moving the mouse pointer around. The rest of the keys? They took a little break from typing. This meant no accidental keypresses and no random characters popping up on your screen.
  • No Mousey Side Effects: The only thing you could still do was move the pointer, which usually wasn’t a big deal. Plus, turning your keyboard back on was a breeze – just hit the option key.

But here’s the twist: With macOS Big Sur, ‘Mouse Keys’ is still around, but it doesn’t give your keyboard the full timeout anymore. Keys that aren’t part of the ‘Mouse Keys’ gang keep working as usual. So, this trick? Not so helpful anymore. Though, it’s still good for giving your Mouse Trackpad a break.

Techy Terminal Tries: There were also some tech-savvy methods involving the command line. You’d type a special command in the Terminal app to disable the keyboard. This worked on older macOS versions, but guess what? On my new Mac with Big Sur, it’s a no-go.

So, what’s the takeaway? The old ways of quieting down your keyboard aren’t playing nice with the latest macOS. But don’t worry, we’ll explore some new strategies next!

The Control+F1 Method

Now, let’s dive into the Control+F1 method. If you’ve ever Googled how to turn off your Mac’s keyboard, you’ve probably seen a lot of advice saying, “Just press Control and F1 together, and you’re all set.” But if you’ve tried it, like many others (and me!), you’ve likely found out it doesn’t do the trick.

What’s the Real Deal with Control+F1?

I spent a good chunk of time fiddling with my Mac settings to test this out. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work for me either. It seems that the way this setting is described is a bit misleading. It’s not actually meant to shut down your whole keyboard.

🔍 Where to Find This Setting? You can check this out yourself. Go to ‘User Preferences’, then ‘Keyboard’, and finally ‘Shortcuts’. With the setting as it is, smashing those Control+F1 keys doesn’t put my keyboard to sleep.

What Actually Happens When You Press Control+F1

What I did discover is this: Pressing Control+F1 actually puts a pause on all the other Function key (those F1, F2, F3… keys) settings. Check out the image below to see what I mean.

So, the bottom line? Using Control+F1 doesn’t give you the result of a full keyboard shutdown. It might have worked on older macOS versions, but on the latest one, it just affects the Function keys, not the entire keyboard.

Next up, we’re going to look into some effective ways to actually disable your keyboard, because clearly, the Control+F1 method isn’t the hero we thought it was.

How Can I Disable My Keyboard?

So, we’ve established that the old ways of turning off your Mac’s keyboard aren’t really cutting it anymore. What’s the next step? The answer lies in third-party applications. Yep, there are apps out there specifically designed to help you disable your keyboard, and some of them are even free!

  • Karabiner-Elements: The Customizer
    • One popular option you’ll find is Karabiner-Elements. It’s a free, open-source app that lets you customize your keyboard in many ways.
    • Here’s the catch though: I downloaded it, installed it, but I couldn’t quite crack how to use it to disable the keyboard. It might just need a bit more tinkering to figure out.
  • KeyboardLocker: The Simple Locker
    • Then there’s KeyboardLocker, an app specifically made to lock your keyboard. I tried this one, and it worked pretty smoothly for me.
    • But here’s something quirky: It locks the keyboard for the window you’re currently in. If you switch to a different window or app, the keyboard works there but stays locked in the original window. Just make sure you keep the window you want locked open.
  • Keyboard Clean and Others
    • There’s also an app called Keyboard Clean, and several others I haven’t had the chance to try out yet. They might be even better at this job.
    • I’m planning to revisit Karabiner and test some more apps to see which one really does the trick.

Finding the perfect app to disable your Mac’s keyboard might need a bit of trial and error. While some apps like Karabiner-Elements offer broad customization options, others like KeyboardLocker focus solely on locking the keyboard. It’s about finding the one that suits your needs and figuring out how to use it effectively.

In my upcoming explorations, I’ll dive deeper into these apps and share any new findings. Stay tuned for more insights on how to keep your keyboard under control! 🕵️‍♂️🔐🖥️

Why Would I Need to Disable My Keyboard?

You might be wondering, “Why on earth would someone want to disable their keyboard?” Well, there are actually a bunch of reasons why you might need to do this. Whether you stumbled upon this article by chance or you’re on a mission to turn off your keyboard, let’s explore some common scenarios:

1. Switching to an External Keyboard

  • Maybe you’ve got a fancy external keyboard you prefer to use. Sure, you can have both your Mac’s built-in keyboard and the external one active at the same time, but there’s a catch. You might accidentally hit keys on the built-in keyboard, and that can be annoying.

2. Keeping Kids and Pets from Causing Chaos

  • If you have little kids or curious pets around, they might see your keyboard as a fun toy. And before you know it, they’re pressing all sorts of keys, messing up your work, or even worse, causing data loss or corruption. Yikes!

3. Dealing with a Broken or Damaged Keyboard

  • Accidents happen. Maybe you spilled coffee on your keyboard (we’ve all been there), or it’s just worn out. A faulty keyboard can make your MacBook pretty much unusable. Disabling the built-in keyboard and hooking up an external one can be a great temporary fix until you sort things out.

There are plenty of valid reasons to disable your Mac’s keyboard. Whether it’s to avoid accidental keypresses with an external keyboard, keep curious hands or paws at bay, or work around a damaged keyboard, knowing how to disable it can be super handy. Now that you know the ‘why’, you’re all set to explore the ‘how’ with the right tools and apps!

Final Words

As we reach the end of our keyboard journey, let’s quickly recap what we’ve covered. Disabling your Mac’s keyboard isn’t as straightforward as it once was, especially with macOS Big Sur shaking things up. But with a bit of know-how and the right tools, it’s definitely manageable.

  • Old Tricks Don’t Work Anymore: The trusty old methods, like using ‘Mouse Keys’ or the Control+F1 shortcut, don’t really do the job on the latest macOS versions.
  • Third-Party Apps to the Rescue: Apps like Karabiner-Elements, KeyboardLocker, and others can help you disable your keyboard. Each has its quirks, so it might take some experimenting to find the one that fits your needs.
  • Why Disable Your Keyboard?: Whether it’s to avoid accidental inputs with an external keyboard, prevent pets or children from causing chaos, or work around a damaged keyboard, there are several good reasons to learn how to disable your Mac’s keyboard.

The world of Mac keyboard shortcuts and settings can be a maze, but I hope this guide has shed some light on the path. Remember, tech challenges like these aren’t just hurdles; they’re opportunities to learn and grow in our digital skills. So, whether you’re a seasoned Mac user or new to the game, keep exploring, experimenting, and sharing what you learn. Who knows what handy trick you might discover next?

Happy typing (or not typing, if that’s your goal)! 🌟👨‍💻🍏


Can I still use the ‘Mouse Keys’ method to disable my Mac’s keyboard on macOS Big Sur?

The ‘Mouse Keys’ method no longer fully disables the keyboard on macOS Big Sur. It only allows certain keys to control the mouse, while the rest of the keyboard remains functional.

Does pressing Control+F1 disable the keyboard on macOS Big Sur?

No, pressing Control+F1 on macOS Big Sur doesn’t disable the entire keyboard. It only affects the Function keys, not the full keyboard.

What are some third-party apps I can use to disable my Mac’s keyboard?

Apps like Karabiner-Elements and KeyboardLocker are popular options for disabling your Mac’s keyboard. Each app has its unique features and might require some experimentation to use effectively.

Why would someone want to disable their Mac’s keyboard?

Common reasons include preferring to use an external keyboard, preventing accidental keypresses by children or pets, and dealing with a broken or damaged keyboard.

Is it difficult to disable a Mac’s keyboard on newer macOS versions?

It can be more challenging compared to older macOS versions, as traditional methods like ‘Mouse Keys’ don’t fully work. However, with the right third-party app, it’s still achievable.

Can disabling the keyboard help if it’s broken or damaged?

Yes, disabling the built-in keyboard can be a temporary solution if it’s malfunctioning due to damage. This allows you to use an external keyboard until the built-in one is repaired or replaced.

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