Solving Multimedia Keyboard problems
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Every hardware component is different. Each one requires a specific operating system or a range of operating systems. Each one requires different resources. You can encounter problems with each one if you miss something. But what do all hardware components have in common? The answer is simple: DRIVERS! All hardware components have drivers and need drivers to function correctly.
In this short tutorial, we will see why some of our multimedia keyboard's media control keys don't work and we will try (and hopefully succeed) to fix the problems. Although you might have a different multimedia keyboard type or another manufacturer, these steps apply to all of them.
The typical error
You have just bought a multimedia keyboard to help you when navigating on the Internet or when playing media. This is a very good choice and these keyboards are extremely helpful. You install it and connect it to your computer. You start the computer and try to use the media control keys. And here is where your problems begin! You find out that none of your media control keys work! How can this be possible? You have just connected the keyboard and the other controls work just fine.
This kind of error does not announce itself. It just…persists. You will not see any error messages. How do you know that there is a problem and where it is located?
Finding the problem
The Device Manager is a very useful tool. It shows all hardware components connected to your computer. So this is a good place to start looking for an error or any kind of warning. Go to Start and click Control Panel. Go to System (sometimes it can be found under the Performance and Maintenance tab) and click on the Hardware tab. Now click on Device Manager and you can see all of your components.
Now, go to Keyboards and click the small "+". And here is the problem with your multimedia keyboard: you don't have one!
As you can see, I have a "Standard 101.102-Key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard". I actually have a Microsoft Multimedia keyboard, so the Device Manager can't be right. Unfortunately, it is right! Windows does not see what keyboard you have and definitely can't use its advanced media control keys. It simply does not see them and is not aware of their presence.
What to do to get past this problem? You need to install the proper hardware drivers for your multimedia keyboard.
Installing proper hardware drivers
The easiest way to get rid of all problems and take full advantage of your multimedia keyboard is to install the correct and the latest hardware drivers for it. But what can you do if you don't have the original CD (the one that came with your multimedia keyboard and contains the original drivers) and the documentation? There is a simple way past this and it is called the World Wide Web.
All you have to do is find the drivers on the Internet. Every manufacturer has its own website. The website URL is usually the same as the manufacturer's name. For example, I have a Microsoft Multimedia keyboard. I will need to go to Microsoft's webpage. I type www.microsoft.com as the URL and I'm there. However, sometimes the name of the manufacturer might not be the exact URL. In this case, simply google the name of the manufacturer (in example, Microsoft) and the first website is usually the one you need.
Let's begin by downloading the drivers. All drivers are usually in the Downloads section of the website. Here is how Microsoft's website looks like:
Place the mouse above the Downloads and Trials link and you will see a scroll down menu appear. It is something like the one below:
Notice the link Download Center? Click on it and you will reach the Download Center. All their downloads are located there. Here is how the page looks like:
Notice the Drivers section? Although Microsoft's webpage is too crowded, it has some kind of organization. In a way, we understand them – they have so many products (both hardware and software) available. Go to the Drivers section. Here is how this looks like:
Again we stumble upon a very crowded webpage. It looks like Microsoft should really work on their webpages! You don't have many chances of finding what you need here without spending some time. So what we are going to do next is search for the driver we need. We have a multimedia keyboard right? So what will we search for? For "multimedia" of course. Go ahead and type multimedia in the search box (you can see it in the above screenshot) and click on Go.
The search engine will return some results. The results are like the ones below:
As you can see, we have already found a suitable driver. It is called IntelliType Pro 5.2 Keyboard Software for Windows XP and 2000. This one is suitable for me because I am running Windows XP operating system. However, if you are running a different version of Windows, search for drivers that work for it. Now, click the link and you will be redirected to the main download page. Here is how this page looks like:
Some parts of the webpage are missing, but the important part is there: the Download button. This is why we came here for right? So go ahead and click Download. Save the file anywhere on your hard drive. Before we continue with our installation, here is an useful advice:
Burn the file on a CD or DVD so you can use it later in case the driver gets corrupted or you reinstall Windows! Never skip this step as it will surely save you some time in the future!
After you have stored the file safely on a CD or DVD, you can proceed with the actual installation of the driver. Double click on the file. The system will ask you if you want to run the file. We know where the file came from (it even says at the Publisher section) so we know it is safe.
Click Run so that the installation can begin. You will be asked where you want to install the drivers. I suggest you leave the path as it is. You might change it, but always remember what you change it to. Here is the path:
Click Next > and the installer will start extracting some temporary files. After it finishes, it will check if your system meets the minimum requirements. It will surely meet them. Now the actual install begins:
You must click Install obviously. The next window will ask you to accept some terms and conditions. It is best practice to read these terms and conditions. You might stumble upon some very hard to accept conditions. You might not accept them, it is a free country! However, if you do not agree with them, the installation will not start. So you are forced to accept them.
Go ahead and click "I accept this agreement". After this, click Next. Now comes a hard part – choosing your keyboard model. Basically, this installer is built for quite a few multimedia keyboard models. To find your model, go to the bottom of the Microsoft multimedia keyboard. Find it in the list:
I just found mine after checking the box. Find your model (by using whatever means possible) and select it from the list. After you select it, the Next button will be available. Click it! The installer will begin installing the multimedia keyboard driver and will finish in under a minute. Here is how the installation looks like:
Once the installer finishes, you might or might not be prompted to restart your computer. I was not. Your multimedia keyboard should work just fine now (or after the reboot if required). To check this in a professional manner, we go to the Device Manager (Start – Control Panel – System – Hardware). Go to the Keyboards tab and click on the small "+". You should now be able to see your multimedia keyboard model there. I see it now!
If you still don't believe the Device Manager, try using your media control keys while on a webpage or on a media player. All of them should work just fine. However, you must configure each of them and allocate a specific function. This can be easily done from Microsoft's software. You will find a new link on your desktop called Microsoft Keyboard. Double click it and begin configuring your media control keys and functions:
Thank you for reading this tutorial! I hope you have had a pleasant reading and that your new (or old) multimedia keyboard is working just fine now. As you have seen, some errors do not show up at first glance and you must dig after them. After the errors are found, fixing them is a different, easier part of the battle. Enjoy your fully functional multimedia keyboard!