How to Remove Mechanical Keyboard Keys (With or Without a Tool)

August 31, 2022 • Devin Partida

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If you’re wondering how to remove mechanical keyboard keys, this guide will cover everything you need to know. Removing the keys on your mechanical keyboard is easy and usually only takes a few minutes. It will go much more smoothly when you’re using the right tools and tricks, though. 

Why Remove Mechanical Keyboard Keys?

Mechanical keyboards have become extremely popular in recent years – they’re great for typing and gaming and offer endless customization options. If you want to get the most out of your mechanical keyboard, at some point you will need to remove the keys. 

The first reason to do this is for cleaning. Mechanical keyboards can cost hundreds of dollars, so it’s important to make sure you take good care of them. Over time, all kinds of dust and debris will get under your keyboard keys. Your hands will also naturally leave oil from your skin on the keycaps. It’s a good idea to remove mechanical keyboard keys once in a while to give them a good cleaning. Learning how to clean a mechanical keyboard will keep it in good condition for far longer.

In addition to maintenance, half the fun of owning a mechanical keyboard is customizing it! You can pick out keycaps that match your personal style and interests to make a totally unique keyboard. You’ll need to remove your old keycaps first to do this. Luckily, it’s super easy. 

How to Remove Mechanical Keyboard Keys Without a Tool

If you’re new to mechanical keyboards, you may not know that there are special tools for removing the keys from mechanical keyboards.

The basic steps to removing mechanical keyboard keys are simple:

  1. Use a plastic keycap puller to take off the keycaps.
  2. Use a metal switch puller to take out the key switches beneath. 

However, most people don’t have these tools on hand. Luckily, you can still pop the keycaps off your keyboard with a few items easily found around the house. 

An Old Gift Card or Credit Card

Most of us have at least one old gift card or expired credit card sitting around. These are the perfect improvised tool for taking off your keycaps. Here’s how to remove mechanical keyboard keys with an old gift card:

Before getting started, make sure to use a gift card you don’t need or care about anymore. There’s a chance it will get cracked or broken, but it shouldn’t hurt your mechanical keyboard. Simply slide one corner or edge of the gift card under the corner of one of your keycaps. Grip the gift card firmly and use it to lever the keycap upwards until it pops off the keyboard. Remember, larger keys like the spacebar are connected with multiple switches and stabilizers so you may need to pop the keycap off at both ends for these keys. 

A Spoon

If you’re wondering how to remove mechanical keyboard keys with something everyone has, try a spoon. Any normal metal spoon from the kitchen can help get your keycaps off in a pinch. It’s not the ideal solution, but it will work if you don’t have a gift card or keycap puller tool around. 

The general idea when removing keycaps on a mechanical keyboard is to somehow lever the keycap off with upward force from below. Keycap pullers simplify this by allowing you to grip the keycap and just pull straight up. With a spoon, however, you’ll need a bit more maneuvering. 

Tuck the edge of the spoon under the edge of the keycap and push down on the spoon. It should push up on the keycap and pop it off. Just be careful not to be too rough when using a metal spoon – you don’t want to damage your mechanical switches on accident. 

DIY Wire Keycap Puller

If you don’t mind getting a little crafty, you can also try to make your own wire keycap puller using paper clips. There are two types of keycap pullers, one of which consists of two hard metal wires bent into little loops, one to hook under either side of a keycap. 

You can try making your own by bending two paper clips into the right shape then connecting them at the ends, such as with tape or a rubber band. Then you can slide one square metal loop under two parallel edges of the keycap and remove it by simply pulling straight up. This strategy may not work perfectly, but it can be extra convenient in the office, where you might not have a spoon lying around. 

Removing Keys With a Keycap Puller

The easiest solution to how to remove mechanical keyboard keys is “with a keycap puller”. These tools will make it way easier to take keys off a keyboard. They can usually be found online for under $10, but also frequently come for free with mechanical keyboards and keycap sets. So, check the packaging for your keyboard and keycap set to see if you already have one before buying one. 

Keycap pullers are usually small plastic rings with two little arms attached. There are wire keycap pullers, as well. Either will work fine for any mechanical keyboard. Simply pop the arms under the edges of the keycap and pull straight up while holding down your keyboard with your other hand. The keycap will come right off. This is the easiest way to take off your mechanical keyboard’s keycaps. 

How to Remove Mechanical Keyboard Key Switches

If you’re wondering how to remove mechanical keyboard keys, you may want to know how to remove the key switches as well as the keycaps. It’s good to know how to remove your switches so you can repair and customize your keyboard however you want. 

Mechanical keyboard switches are more fragile than keycaps, though. The best course of action here truly is to invest in a purpose-built mechanical switch puller tool. Mechanical switches have little buttons on them that need to be carefully pressed to release the switch from the keyboard PCB. Switch puller tools are designed to remove switches correctly without damaging them. Trying to use other objects to take out a mechanical switch can easily damage the switch housing, the delicate parts inside, or the pins on the underside of the switch. 

The mechanical switches are what makes mechanical keyboards so special, and they are often the most expensive part of the keyboard. So, make sure to handle these pieces with care and use the right tool to remove them. 

Switch pullers are easy to use. To remove mechanical keyboard key switches, gently squeeze the two prongs of the switch puller around the switch on the north and south edges of the switch. These edges are where the little release buttons should be located on the edge of the switch housing. Grip the switch puller firmly and pull straight up while holding down the rest of the keyboard with your other hand. The switch should come out without too much force. 

Remove Mechanical Keyboard Keys the Easy Way

Removing mechanical keyboard keys can be a little intimidating the first time because you don’t want to damage your keyboard. It’s super easy with the right tools on hand, though. By learning how to remove your mechanical keyboard’s keys, you can fully customize your keyboard and build the custom mechanical keyboard of your dreams! Just use a clear workspace and take it one key at a time and you’ll be customizing and cleaning your keyboard in no time.