What To Do If Your Ctrl+ Alt+ Delete Keys Aren’t Working

By: Editorial Team

Do you want some help fixing your Ctrl + Alt+ Delete shortcut? Worry not because we have something for you. The Ctrl+ Alt+ Del keys combination is one of the most used shortcuts, given its handiness. It ends non-responsive processes, which can be annoying and inconvenient. It also closes applications that take up lots of your device’s memory. Other uses include opening the task manager, logging out of windows, and restarting the computer. We hope that you now understand why this is an important combination.

Our article will look at some ways you can fix this issue and enjoy using your laptop without interruptions. However, before we get into that, let’s find out what causes this key combination to fail.

Reasons Why Your Ctrl+ Alt+ Del Keys Combination Isn’t Working

Two main reasons can make your Ctrl+ alt+ del key combinations fail to work. The primary cause is a malfunctioning keyboard, which can be quickly fixed by connecting an external keyboard. This Windows shortcut may also fail when you update your laptop or install a malicious third-party program. However, please do not freak out because we have what you need. Here are some of the ways you can fix such an issue:

1. Restart Your Device

Restarting your device can fix several issues. It is recommended that you do that whenever you experience a problem with your laptop or computer. Even though it sounds like something obvious, it offers a quick and easy way to deal with your laptop’s issues. Therefore, save whatever you have been doing, restart your laptop and wait for it to boot and you will be good to go.

2. Use Clean Boot To Fix Your Device

Another great alternative is to troubleshoot your laptop using Clean Boot. However, you should only resort if the first method we discussed fails. Clean Boot is a background process or service that allows you to disable startup services and programs manually. It lets you identify what’s causing this combination not to work. Let’s take you through how you can use this service:

Step-By-Step Guide To Fixing Your Ctrl+ Alt+ Delete Keys Combination Using Clean Boot

  • Click the start button, choose Run from the list of options, or press Win + R to open this tool directly.
  • Click on the dialog box, key in MSConfig, and then press Enter to open your device’s system configuration, which will bring you to the general tab.
  • Next to Selective startup is a box you should check
  • Find the box that states load startup items and remove the check mark found in it
  • Visit the Services tab and hide all Microsoft services before clicking on the Disable all option.
  • Click Apply to save all changes
  • Find the Open Task Manager feature under the startup tab and click on it
  • Right-click every startup service and disable it in the task manager
  • Once you are through with it, click OK and save the changes

Once you have followed all the steps mentioned above, reboot your computer to see if it is functioning well.

3. Run The System File Checker Tool

Running a system file checker scan can help you fix our subject of discussion. It identifies and fixes the corrupted files on your system, helping you fix this shortcut key on your windows laptop. Here are the steps to follow:

Step-By-Step Guide To Running A System File Checker Scan

  • Click on the star icon to reveal a list of options.
  • On the start menu, type in cmd and then choose the Run as an administrator option to reveal a UAC window
  • When the Window shows up, click Yes and proceed.
  • Type in SFC/scannow once in the command prompt and press Enter.

These four steps should quickly scan your system files and identify all the corrupted ones. It even goes ahead and tries to fix them. However, note that you must restart your computer afterward so that the changes you have made can work. Once your computer boots up, the Ctrl+ Alt+ Delete shortcut will work perfectly.

4. Conduct A System Restore

This option normally works on devices with Microsoft’s Windows 11, the latest OS version. This is because you get many features that allow you to keep your laptop running smoothly by making it more efficient. The system restores option allows you to revert the changes made on your OS in case anything goes wrong. This can be one of the best options to resort to if everything else doesn’t work.

5. Look Out For Windows Updates

Looking out for a Windows update may fix this shortcut issue. However, first, ensure that your keyboard has the best driver. Here is what to do to check if your computer has not missed any update that needs to be installed for your laptop to work well:

Step-By-Step Guide To Checking For Your Windows Update

  • Open the settings menu by pressing Win+ 1
  • Once the app opens, look at the left plane and click on Windows update
  • Click the check for updates button on the right plane and wait for Windows to check for and install updates in the background.

Your keyboard shortcut should work perfectly once you have downloaded the last updates. If it doesn’t, try other solutions that we will discuss in our article.

6. Fix Your Keyboard

You may have to fix your keyboard if all the options we discussed fail to work. However, before you take it to a technician, perform a few personal fixes. Check if your keyboard is properly plugged in, which is a common reason why the Ctrl+ Alt+ Delete key combination may fail to work.

You can also hold down the FN key and then try the Ctrl+ Alt+ Delete combination again. Some keyboards also require you to hold these keys simultaneously. If the keys don’t work, then the best option is to update the driver. Let’s help you do this through the following guide:

Step-To-Step Guide To Updating Your Laptop’s Keyboard Driver

Here are the steps to follow if you want to update your keyboard driver:

  • Navigate to the Device Manager and click on it. You can discover how to open the device manager on Windows by googling the right keywords.
  • Your laptop will reveal a detailed list of devices. Go to keyboards and expand on it.
  • After expanding on it, right-click the keyboard device and choose Properties. Double-clicking it will also open the Properties window.
  • Navigate to the Driver tab and click on the update option.
  • Click on the search automatically for the drivers’ feature, and you will be good to go.

When you get these steps right, your Windows operating system will locate the best available drivers and automatically install them on your computer. Note that this process depends on your laptop’s specifications. Check to see if the shortcut has been restored once the drivers are updated.

You can also do this manually using software and applications such as Driver Easy. This application will automatically recognize your system and find the right drivers to be installed. The good thing about such tools is that they save you from the risk of downloading and installing the wrong driver. You won’t also make a mistake that can hinder your normal laptop’s operation during installation. Note that these tools have their free and paid versions.


We hope that this article will come in handy when you run into such a problem. Feel free to pick an option that will work for you.


1. What Are The Uses Of Ctrl+ Alt+ Del Shortcut?

The Ctrl+ Alt+ Delete function has several uses that you will find helpful. It gives you access to the system task manager, allows you to sign off Windows, and even change your password. It is, therefore, important to fix it quickly when it stops working.

2. Which Apps Can I Use To Update My Keyboard Drivers?

One of the widely used applications for updating laptop drivers is Driver Easy. Once you download and install it on your PC or laptop, run it and click on the Scan Now button so the application can scan your computer and detect problems with the drivers. Next, you can click on the update button to automatically download the right drivers for your PC and manually install them or click on the update all button found at the bottom right. The latter option will update all your outdated or missing drivers automatically. Lastly, restart your PC and then confirm whether the keys are working. However, note that you will need the paid version for this.

3. Can Modify My Registry Fix My Computer’s Ctrl+ Alt+ Del Shortcut?

Yes. Some third-party software can make changes to your registry and modify its default value, causing some of your PC’s keys to malfunction. To fix this, you must set this value back to default in the registry. Simultaneously press the key with the Windows logo and R to open the Run Dialog feature. Afterward, type Regedit and then the enter key. You can then navigate the different panels to fix this issue.