Why Is My Escape Key Not Working in Mac?

Why Is My Mac’s Escape Key Not Working

If the escape key is not working on your Mac device it is always a significant hassle. The escape key is used to close, cancel, or terminate any operation. Fortunately, even if your escape key is not working you can fix it without having to visit the service center.

Most of the time, malfunctioning of the escape key is caused by some issue with your Mac’s hardware. Hence, you can fix the issue either by replacing the key itself, or the entire keyboard. Sometimes, the failure can be attributed to a software problem. In these cases, you can follow any of the four methods we’ll be listing in this article. 

So, if you want to learn how to easily fix your Mac’s escape key, read on!

Key Takeaways

  • Malfunctioning of the escape key on your Mac can be caused either by hardware or software issues.
  • If the hardware is to blame, then you can fix the problem by replacing either the lone key, or the whole keyboard.
  • If it’s a software problem, you can try updating your Mac, using the accessibility keyboard, using safe mode, or quitting Siri.
  • Before attempting any of the above solutions, the first and easiest step you should always follow is to simply restart your device.

Why Is My Mac’s Escape Key Not Working?

As mentioned above, any malfunctioning of your Mac’s escape key can be attributed either to a hardware or a software issue. From a hardware perspective, it can be that dirt, dust, hair etc. have fallen on and around the key over time, till they interfere with its movement or jam its circuitry. If so, removing the key and cleaning the area below and under it, should go a long way towards fixing the problem. You can also try using a can of compressed air to get rid of any dirt in the spaces between the keys, without having to remove the key.

Why Is My Mac’s Escape Key Not Working

Another possibility is that the circuit board under the keyboard has become damaged. If cleaning the keys spaces doesn’t work, then this is possibly the problem. If this is the case, then replacing the singular key won’t work. You’ll have to take your device to the service center to get the entire keyboard changed.

Alternatively, it can be a problem with your laptop’s software; it’s not unheard of for a particular program or device driver to interfere with the working of some keys. We’ll discuss what to do in that case later on in this article.

How Do I Know If My Escape Key Is Working On Mac?

If pressing the escape key doesn’t close or terminate the current operation, then it’s not working. To check definitively, try closing any dialog box that opens with “Esc”; if the box remains open, then your key isn’t working.

How Do I Know If My Escape Key Is Working On Mac

Before attempting to fix the problem, you must initially distinguish if it is a hardware or software problem. To do so, first check if the escape key on your Mac’s accessibility keyboard is working; if it is, then the problem lies with your physical keyboard. Then, try cleaning the key spaces. If that works, well and good; if it doesn’t, you need to get your keyboard changed. If it’s a software issue, you can attempt any of the fixes described in the next section.

How Can I Fix My Mac’s Malfunctioning Escape Key?

Before embarking on any of the solutions described here, the simplest thing you can do is restart your device; often, this will solve the problem without requiring any more intensive fixes. If this doesn’t work, try out the following solutions one by one.

If it is a hardware issue, you already know what the long-term solution is. But as a stop-gap, you can use your Mac’s accessibility keyboard or on-screen keyboard. To open the accessibility keyboard, follow these steps:

  • Go to system preferences.
  • Click on accessibility.
  • Click on keyboard.
  • Click on viewer.
  • Select the “Enable Accessibility Keyboard” option. An on-screen keyboard will appear, where you can “type” by clicking on the respective keys.

If even the accessibility keyboard is not working, then it’s a problem with your device’s software. Now, you can try any of these three fixes:

Updating your device:

  • If you don’t have the latest version of MacOS installed, then your escape key might not work. To update your Mac:
  • Go to system preferences.
  • Click on software update.
  • If an update or upgrade is available, click on “Update Now” or “Upgrade Now” as the case may be. Then, follow the instructions displayed on-screen to complete the update.

Restarting your Mac in Safe Mode:

  • If you start your Mac in safe mode, it’ll load only those files and apps absolutely essential to its operation; any additional apps and extensions won’t run. To restart your Mac in safe mode:
  • If you are using an Intel Mac, turn off your Mac, turn it on again and immediately press and hold the shift key, until the login screen appears.
  • If you are using an Apple Silicon Mac, turn off your Mac, then press and hold the power button until you see the start-up options screen. Choose your start-up disk, then press and hold the shift key while clicking on “Continue in safe mode.”

Quitting Siri:

  • It’s been seen that if Siri freezes, then your escape key will stop working. To fix:
  • Open applications.
  • Click on utilities.
  • Click the activity monitor.
  • Find Siri, click the “Stop” or “X” button and choose “Force Quit.”


Any malfunctioning of your Mac’s escape key can be caused by either a hardware or software problem. First determine the exact cause of the issue, then act accordingly. If the hardware’s to blame, clean or remove the components in question. If the software’s the issue, then you can restart in safe mode, quit Siri, or update your MacOS. As a stop-gap, the accessibility keyboard is always an option.

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