One of the most excruciating things I have to do is to add or remove some keys from a key ring. I have to dig my way into the crack of the ring with my nails, which really hurts. What else can I do to save myself from the pain?

9 Answers 9


I have generally used two methods for removing keys from keychains:

Staple-Remover Method

Since staple removers have sharp, thin teeth, simply place the sharp points between the keychain rings and slowly press down. This should spread the keychain apart and make it easy to roll the new key on/take the old key off the chain.

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Coin Method

Since I often don't have a staple remover readily on-hand, I usually use a coin. This video and description are helpful:

  • Get a coin about the size of a quarter.

  • Press the edge of the coin against the key ring at a 45 degree angle, near where it opens; the coin will slide under part of the key ring, lifting the end up.

  • Apply pressure to the coin so that it lifts up the end of the key ring enough to slide the key on. Then slide the key on.
  • Remove the coin and slide the key on the rest of the way.
  • There are special tools that do the same as the staple remover, I bought mine in a beads shop, but the staple remover is around in many houses and offices. +1
    – Willeke
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 18:58

I end up using the key I want to put on the keyring.

I slide the cuts of the key into the groove, opening it. Then, I keep pushing until the entire blade is in the keyring. I then rotate the key until the hole is relatively near the start of the keychain. I slide it on, and done.


I usually use a staple remover to open a crack in the ring and then add or remove the key painlessly.

The smaller the staple remover, the better, because a bigger one might not fit or damage the ring.


If you carry a small pocketknife, like me, you can use that to slip into the crack, and pry open. Stick your key into the crack, from either side, remove the blade, and slide the key in/out of the ring. This is convenient for me, because I carry both my pocketknife and my keys in my pockets, so they are with me all the time.

Warning: Blades are often sharp. Use common sense and try not to cut yourself.

  • @cullub *knives. I added that because of how many people end to be careless with blades.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 14:54
  • haha sorry spelling error. Yeah, "use common sense".
    – Cullub
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 16:10
  • Even with care, this is one of those situations where I'd definitely cut myself eventually. Accidents happen and blades slip; common sense is not always enough. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 22:16
  • @DangerZone Haha! Ok then. Nut I do it regularly and have never cut myself. I find that blades don't slip if you know what you're doing. ;D
    – J. Musser
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 19:49

Rather than fighting the problems of the typical key ring, you may want to consider a different design. Here is a review that covers about two dozen ideas about ways to hold your keys:


The FreeKey is made of flat metal shaped into a ring, but the loops pop apart when you squeeze it. It seems like the most direct replacement that would solve your problem.

FreeKey pressed open

Another idea I've seen is an incomplete ring with "end stoppers". There's a round bar bent into a "U" shape with balls on each end to keep the keys from sliding off. One of the balls can be screwed off in order to add or remove keys.

Here is one example of such a horseshoe keyring:


I don't have personal experience with any of these. I just found them by searching online.


As a preventative measure, I keep a small carabiner on my main key ring, and attach peripheral keychains to the carabiner instead of the ring when I need them. It reduces the number of times I have to fiddle with key rings and lets me travel with fewer keys - for example, if I'm biking to school then I will take the car keys off the carabiner and leave them at home.

For the times when you do have to remove keys from the ring, JSW189's staple-remover method looks promising.


The 'non life hack' method:
Get split ring opening pliers (an image search will show many, but here is one from a commercial site.)

Till I bought that item, and still when it is home while I am elsewhere, I used to use the file on my small pocket knive. Or the file I keep in the bedroom.
Insert the tip, turn sideways and you have enough of an opening to get a small key in.


I agree these hard keyrings are incredibly annoying.

Please try to not use your nail, you are too likely to break it.

Here are the solutions that come to mind:

  • Use a knife (not one with a cheap blade, you certainly don't want to break it). Though, it still requires some practice to get the right gesture. And you are guaranteed to damage the blade edge.
  • Find a lighter keyring. Sorry no photo for now, but you can find "cheap" keyrings that are made of a much thinner wire. They perfectly do the job and are suuuuch a pleasure to manipulate.

Or, you can always carry a staple remover.


If you have one of those nail files with a point on the end, you can use that to add and remove keys.

  • I think a picture here would greatly improve the quality of this answer.
    – michaelpri
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 19:06

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