How to Fix Escape Key Not Working on Mac

Having trouble with the Escape key not working on Mac?

Apple Macs have several keyboard shortcuts that aim to improve productivity. While most of them are set by default, you also get the freedom to customize your own set of shortcuts at your convenience. 

One default shortcut key is the Escape key. By pressing it, you may perform various functions like minimizing a window, closing or aborting the function of an application, and so on. However, this key may sometimes become unresponsive or lag in its performance. 

The problem may be related to hardware or software. If it’s the former, there’s nothing you can really do other than purchase a new keyboard. However, if it’s a software error causing the Escape key not working on Mac issue, there are several troubleshooting methods you may follow, as listed below.

So let’s get started right away!

1. Restart Your Mac.

To start with the most straightforward solution, we recommend you restart your device. This will give your computer a fresh start, eliminating most temporary errors causing the issue Escape key not working on Mac.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Simply click on the Apple menu at the top left corner.
  2. From the options, click on Restart.
Restart Mac
  1. Again, choose Restart from the confirmation box.
Restart Mac

2. Disconnect the External Keyboard.

If you use an external keyboard, chances are the Escape key may have broken or stopped working completely. In this case, disconnecting the external keyboard is the fastest way to deal with the situation, at least temporarily. Check if the Escape key on the default keyboard is working fine. If it’s not, the issue lies in the system software.

Escape Key Not Working on Mac

To fix that, continue reading this guide.

3. Force-Quit Siri.

Many users have reported that the Escape key becomes unresponsive due to interference of Siri, the virtual assistant getting stuck in the background, etc. To combat this situation, try to force-quit the feature from the Activity Monitor and see if this fix also works for you.

Follow the steps below to do so:

  1. Firstly, open Spotlight Search by pressing the Command key and Spacebar.
  2. Now, type Activity Monitor and hit the Return key.
Activity Monitor Mac
  1. When the window opens, type Siri in the Search bar.
  2. From the result, select Siri and click on the x icon.
Escape Key Not Working on Mac
  1. Lastly, click on Force Quit to close Siri.
Force Quit Siri Mac

After that, play a video in full-screen mode, then check if the Escape key is fixed.

4. Boot Into Safe Mode.

Several third-party applications occasionally interfere with the performance of your computer, resulting in all kinds of issues, including the Escape key not working on Mac.

In this situation, you need to enter Safe mode so that your Mac only boots with the necessary files. All additional programs, extensions, login items, and so on will be excluded.

Entering Safe mode in Mac is slightly different for Intel and M1 Mac. So follow the methods that are specified for your computer chip.

For Intel:

  1. First, click on the Apple menu and choose Restart.
  2. Just when your Mac restarts, long press the Shift key from your keyboard.
  3. Release when you see the login screen.
Enter Safe Mode in Mac

For M1:

  1. From the Apple menu, select Shut Down.
Shut Down Mac
  1. After that, long press the Power button until two disk options appear on the screen.
  2. Hold down the Shift key and click on Macintosh HD
  3. Then, click on Continue in Safe Mode.
Continue in Safe Mode Mac

5. Reset SMC on Intel-based Macs.

This method is specifically for users with Mac running on Intel chips. System Management Controller or SMC is a chip that stores and controls critical data related to the functioning of several hardware components, including the Escape key. Resetting it just might solve the issue of the Escape key not working on Mac. 

To do so, follow these steps carefully:

  1. From the Apple menu, choose to Shut Down your Mac.
  2. Then wait for a couple of minutes.
  3. After that, press and hold the Shift, left Option, and left Control key simultaneously. Then add the Power button in the combination as well.
Escape Key Not Working on Mac
  1. Don’t release them for around 10 seconds. Your Mac will then turn on, playing the default chime. This is your cue to let go of the keys.
  2. Finally, press the Power button to restart your computer.
Escape Key Not Working on Mac

6. Enable Accessibility Keyboard.

If you’re not sure whether the issue lies in Mac’s software or hardware, this method is for you. The accessibility keyboard is an on-screen keyboard that you can use with the click of your mouse. This can also be a temporary fix until you resolve the actual problem.

Here’s how to enable the Accessibility keyboard on your Mac:

  1. To start, press the Command key + Spacebar on your keyboard to open the Spotlight Search.
  2. Type Accessibility and hit the Return key.
Escape Key Not Working on Mac
  1. Now, scroll down to the Motor section and click on Keyboard on the left pane of the window.
Keyboard Accessibility Mac
  1. Then, go to the Viewer tab.
  2. Finally, check the box next to Enable Accessibility Keyboard.
Enable Accessibility Keyboard Mac

If the Escape key of the Accessibility keyboard works, it’s time for you to get a new keyboard to attach to your Mac. However, if it doesn’t, then the problem lies somewhere in the software.

7. Run Maintenance Scripts.

Since there is no direct fix that can solve the issue of the Escape key not working on Mac, you should consider opting for general fixes like running maintenance scripts. This method has been an effective solution for most Mac issues and will hopefully resolve this too.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Begin by downloading the CleanMyMacX utility on your computer.
  2. Once done, launch the program.
  3. Then, go to the Maintenance tab from the left pane of the window.
  4. Select Run Maintenance Scripts, then hit the Run button to start the task.
Run Maintenance Scripts Mac

8. Update the macOS.

Outdated software versions are another reason various bugs and glitches find their way into your Mac system. For this reason, you should always keep your macOS up-to-date.

To ensure this or install any pending version updates, follow the steps below:

  1. Firstly, click on the Apple menu and choose About This Mac.
About this Mac
  1. From there, click on Software Update.
Escape Key Not Working on Mac
  1. If an update is available, simply click on the Update Now button to install it instantly on your Mac.
Update macOS

9. Visit the Nearest Apple Store.

If nothing seems to work in your case to resolve the Escape key not working on Mac, it’s advisable to seek professional help. Head over to your nearest Apple store to either get your keyboard repaired or get the underlying software issue fixed.

On this note, we end our guide on how to fix the Escape key not working on Mac. For more queries, do not hesitate to communicate with us through the comment section below. We’ll be happy to provide further assistance.

If this guide helped you, please share it. 😊


  • Aimen Choudhry

    Aimen Choudhry is an architecture student who has always been fascinated by science. She now finds her therapy researching and writing about the latest technology and the issues that come alongside. Otherwise, you’ll find her playing video games, listening to music, or watching fantasy/sci-fi movies.

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