What is a Laptop Keyboard?

Matthew F.

A laptop keyboard is an input device used with a laptop computer. Like a keyboard for a desktop computer or a typewriter, the keys are used to type individual symbols. A standard laptop keyboard takes on a flat layout attached to the bottom of the monitor, and can feature different arrangements of keys and symbols. Most laptop keyboards condense multiple symbols into fewer buttons to accommodate for less space.

Laptop keyboards do not feature a traditional computer mouse.
Laptop keyboards do not feature a traditional computer mouse.

Used to type text, a common laptop keyboard features a full alphanumeric set of symbols. These keyboards have letters A through Z and numbers 0 through 9 in the common QWERTY layout -- named for the first six letters in the top row of the alphabetic layout. These keyboards also come with the space bar, shift keys, and enter and delete keys common to typing keyboards. Escape keys and 10 to 12 specialized F keys are also commonplace.

A QWERTY laptop keyboard.
A QWERTY laptop keyboard.

Laptop keyboards differ from most desktop keyboards in that they will condense buttons to save space and make for a smaller product. Usually a second set of numbers, often found on the right side of the keyboard, are left off of a laptop keyboard. Other keys are often combined into sets with a letter or number symbol, and utilized through the shift command.

Many buttons are combined onto the laptop keyboard that can usually be found elsewhere on a desktop computer. Power buttons, volume control buttons, mute buttons, and controls for media programs can be found on the laptop keyboard. Other keys featured on many newer laptops are the Windows Start key, the Page Up and Page Down keys, the insert key, and the print key. These keys add extra utility onto a keyboard with space on a limited scale compared to the average PC.

Unlike desktop keyboards, laptop keyboards do not feature a traditional computer mouse. Many laptop keyboards feature a scrolling pad for control of the arrow on the screen. This pad, fingertip sensitive, will move the arrow along with slight finger movements on the pad. Along with the pad are the right- and left-click buttons commonly found on the mouse. A page-scrolling device, often found between the right- and left-click buttons on the mouse, can usually be found to either side of the fingertip pad.

Laptop keyboard accessories can be bought for most laptop keyboards. Among the most popular are a wireless mouse, which can be synced to the computer for those more comfortable with mouse scrolling. Mouse pads, disks, memory sticks, and USB cables can also be bought for laptop keyboards. These accessories can often access ports built into the sides of the keyboard.

A laptop keyboard is typically more compact, with the keys closer together, than a traditional keyboard.
A laptop keyboard is typically more compact, with the keys closer together, than a traditional keyboard.

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Discussion Comments


@MissDaphne - I'm glad you like your new laptop! But did you ever consider that most laptop keyboard problems can be solved by plugging in a "proper" keyboard to your laptop? You can unplug it when you want to take the laptop somewhere.

It is a bulky solution and not for everyone, but I have resorted to it. Laptop keyboards can be a little uncomfortable to type on and I sometimes prefer to use an ergonomic keyboard when I happen to be at my desk. But I do like the convenience and portability of the laptop.


Some larger laptop keyboard *do* have that ten-key pad that comes to the right on a full-size keyboard. If you do a lot of numerical data entry, it's worth its weight in gold!

I'm a teacher and I have to enter grades. With my old laptop, it took forever because of not having the number pad; once you get proficient at ten-key, it is much faster than using the numbers above the letters. Usually, in fact, I would boot up the antique student desktop computer just to enter grades more rapidly!

My new laptop has a larger screen and happens to have that ten-key pad. I really like being able to do the data entry more quickly.

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