Removing key caps

I read somewhere that the thumb key caps are all the same. Anyone have advice on a good and safe way to remove them?

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OK, pulling hard works.


Yeah, I think pulling hard is the approved way (I seem to recall them discussing calibrating the amount of force it takes to remove the caps in one of the backer updates), although @jesse mentioned a key puller may be used (in this thread Repositioning Thumb Keys).

Just be sure to pull straight up, or you could damage a keyswitch.


As someone who will want to replace all of the keys, the prospect of pulling them straight up by hand does not seem all that appealing, so I was thinking I’d use a keycap puller. Would one like this work?

Yes. That ought to work.


I used my Kinesis puller a bit but it was only kinda effective.

So what level should I have selected to get the “after you’ve used it for a few months we’ll send you custom lasered keycaps for the layout you ended up with” reward?


That’s something we’ve…not promised to anybody past “we want to offer it and we’ll try to figure out how to do it.” We’re pretty sure we’re going to have to do them here in California to get the quality we want for one-off or two-off sets.

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Unless it’s different for ALPS, don’t you want to wiggle it a bit as you lift? I know that’s how you want to remove Cherry keycaps, but that’s not a universal thing. (For instance, wiggling keycaps on an ancient beamspring can ruin your day.)

I would not try to intentionally wiggle keycaps on an ALPS or MX style switch.

At least with MX, simply pulling straight out risks ripping out the slider along with the keycap. It’s happened to me before.

EDIT: By “wiggle”, I mean to do it very slowly, applying slightly more pressure on one side, then alternating to the other.

Huh. That’s different than my experience. I’ve found wiggling to be more likely to damage either stem or legs than not wiggling)

Interesting. I’ve had the exact opposite!

As a side note, I appreciate that the keycaps on the Model 01 aren’t crazy tight, like they are on Matias keyboards. I felt certain I would break my Tactile Mini when I swapped some stuff out.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way, I’ve changed many sets of key caps and never broken a switch. I think the puller probably makes the most difference, use a wire one not the plastic ones that often come with a key cap set.

I place the puller diagonally across the switch and pull up while very gently rocking. As long as you are not yanking or using excessive force you should be fine.

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I have one of these, but unfortunately the caps are too high for this one.

You don’t want to use one of those, anyway. That style runs the risk of scratching the keycaps. Wire pullers are much better.