Stuck in Windows 10, Alt button not working, USB keyboard doesn't fix problem

alexwells

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2019
4
0
After doing a search, i've seen this question asked quite a few times but none of the posts seem to fix my problem.

My Macbook keyboard isn't working at all at the moment . I went into boot camp last week to see if my keyboard would work from there in case it was a MacOS problem, but it still isn't working. I have connected a USB Windows keyboard that I'm using for now but I want to get back into MacOS to try and reinstall Mac altogether in an attempt to get my keyboard working again, but i can't as the Alt button to chose the Mac partition isn't working on my USB keyboard when booting up.

Here's what I've also tired with no luck

  • Restarting into Mac OSX from the system tray, but i get an error message saying it couldn't locate the OSX boot volume, I've now found out that this is because Windows 10 can’t natively read APFS-formatted partitions.

  • Holding CMD+R for recovery mode

  • Safe mode (hold shiftat boot)

  • Single user mode (hold CMD Sat boot)

  • Verbose mode (hold CMD Vat boot)

  • Looked into third party boot loaders, but the instructions for each of them seem really confusing and i have no idea what i'm doing. If there's any easy way to install a boot loader for Windows to get back to Mac, i don't know about it. But any recommendations of programs i could use would be appreciated.
There must be a reason why none of the keys on the USB keyboard are working when booting up, i just don't know what it is. I've tried a second USB keyboard and it still didn't work so it's not a keyboard problem. I was wondering if there's delayed power from the USB when booting up and maybe the power only turns on when i get to the Windows log in screen (the keyboard works fine then).

The only way my Mac can exit out of Windows right now is by throwing it out of one, and believe me I'm tempted.

Any help at all, if there's any other options i could try, would be much appreciated. Thanks.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,605
2,352
Delaware
If you could try the Windows USB wired keyboard that you have:
Alt key on a Windows keyboard is NOT the same as the Option key on an Apple keyboard during boot.
Try booting holding the Windows key instead. Also, try an NVRAM reset by holding Alt-Windows key-P-R
You should hear a boot chime. Keep holding the same 4 keys until you hear the boot chime 2 more times, then release the keys to allow a normal boot. After that reset, your Mac should boot to the Mac OS - assuming that you have a normal internal boot drive with the macOS as the boot system on that drive.
 

alexwells

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2019
4
0
If you could try the Windows USB wired keyboard that you have:
Alt key on a Windows keyboard is NOT the same as the Option key on an Apple keyboard during boot.
Try booting holding the Windows key instead. Also, try an NVRAM reset by holding Alt-Windows key-P-R
You should hear a boot chime. Keep holding the same 4 keys until you hear the boot chime 2 more times, then release the keys to allow a normal boot. After that reset, your Mac should boot to the Mac OS - assuming that you have a normal internal boot drive with the macOS as the boot system on that drive.
That doesn't work for me either. It seems no matter what keys i hold it does nothing, the windows logo just comes up and then the log in screen.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G3
Jul 30, 2003
9,605
2,352
Delaware
What happens if you shut off the Macbook? (Hold the power button for about 5 seconds, so power is off)
connect the USB keyboard, press and release the power button, and immediately hold the Windows key.

I have seen a few (usually cheap) windows keyboards that don't work properly with the boot key shortcuts.
If the Windows key still boots straight into Windows (and NOT the expected boot-picker screen) -- try a different USB keyboard.

Exactly which MacBook do you have?

You could also try disconnecting the internal keyboard (where it plugs in to the logic board), then try your external USB again. (You would need to remove the bottom cover to get at that connector.)
 

alexwells

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 23, 2019
4
0
What happens if you shut off the Macbook? (Hold the power button for about 5 seconds, so power is off)
connect the USB keyboard, press and release the power button, and immediately hold the Windows key.

I have seen a few (usually cheap) windows keyboards that don't work properly with the boot key shortcuts.
If the Windows key still boots straight into Windows (and NOT the expected boot-picker screen) -- try a different USB keyboard.

Exactly which MacBook do you have?

You could also try disconnecting the internal keyboard (where it plugs in to the logic board), then try your external USB again. (You would need to remove the bottom cover to get at that connector.)
I have tried with 2 USB keyboards and neither of them work with the boot key shortcuts, i also just tired what you suggested (holding power button etc.)

The MacBook i have is an A1398, 15 inch, Mid 2012. I'm not sure if I'd be able to get to the plug of the internal keyboard, i'm sure the model i have has everything soldered but I'm not sure, i'll have to open it up and see.
 

doynton

macrumors 6502
Oct 19, 2014
299
15
https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+15-Inch+Unibody+Mid+2012+Logic+Board+Replacement/10766
Steps 18, 19 & 20 will get you at the keyboard connector.

Remember: the normal boot keys (option and command) are reversed when using a windows keyboard for boot commands.
I had this problem and step 20 was sufficient to test - you just need to pry it out with your fingernail. Probably disconnecting the battery is wise but don't disconnect trackpad.

If you are still stuck in Windows take a look at the on screen keyboard and it will tell you if any key is appearing stuck. In my case (also A1398) the RHS shift was permanently held down so none of the action keys worked at boot as internal keyboard overrides external.

Replacing the internal keyboard fixed it for me but this is a bit of a pain to do so it is worth looking in Windows or just unplugging the internal to see.