Fix: Arrow Keys Not Working In Excel

Are the arrow key shortcuts not working in Excel? Don't worry. In this guide, we'll go through each tried-and-tested way to solve this issue.

Being efficient while working in Excel is important, especially if your work relies on it. To achieve that, it’s crucial to learn all tricks and shortcuts for the program, as doing so greatly improves the workflow.

If you use Excel, you’re likely familiar with the arrow keys shortcuts, as they make navigating through the worksheet much easier and are a go-to command for many.

Regrettably, this shortcut doesn’t always function, and if you’re presently encountering that issue, continue reading to discover how to resolve it.

Let’s get into it.

Table of ContentsShow

The Problem Explained

Problem

This problem is really easy to identify, as the navigation control in Excel stops responding when the user tries accessing it using the arrow keys on their keyboard, i.e., the focus doesn’t transfer to a different row or column.

To someone with the habit of using this command regularly, the problem will become obvious shortly after launching Excel.

Fortunately, it’s not something that requires too much troubleshooting to diagnose and fix.

Clicking on each field manually with your mouse to focus on it it can significantly slow things down, so this problem requires immediate attention, and you can find the solutions in the sections below.

Fix 1: Ensure The Arrow Keys Work Outside Of Excel

Arrow Keys

Before trying to tweak the settings within Excel, it’s important to eliminate the chances of your keyboard not working, or specifically the arrow commands on your keyboard.

The easiest way to do this is to open a different program on your computer that has any functionality linked with the arrow keys. It can be anything as simple as Notepad. Test your arrow keys there and see if anything happens. If the program doesn’t respond to your commands, then it could be an issue with your keyboard or with Windows.

If the arrow keys function in the program you opened, take a look at the next section for more information on what you could do to resolve this potentially Excel-only problem.

Fix 2: Disable The Scroll-Lock Command (Mode) On Your Keyboard

Disable

It can easily happen for a user to accidentally activate the scroll-lock command on their keyboard by pressing a button, and if your keyboard doesn’t have a light indicator helping you realize that the mode is enabled, it can be easy to miss.

Even worse, if your keyboard doesn’t have a scroll-lock button, you (or someone else you share the PC with) could have enabled it through the virtual Windows keyboard, and now you don’t know how to switch it off.

For those who don’t know, the scroll-lock mode causes the arrow keys in Excel to have a wholly different function, like moving the entire page instead of navigating from one cell to another.

To deactivate scroll-lock, press the button on your keyboard, or if you don’t have one, follow the steps below to accomplish it through the virtual Windows on-screen keyboard feature:

  1. Right-click the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen (on the taskbar), then click on Settings.
    Windows icon Settings
  2. Click on Ease of Access.
    Windows Ease of Access
  3. Scroll down the left sidebar menu and click on Keyboard. Enable the “Use the On-Screen Keyboard” setting by “toggling” the switch button, as shown in the image below.
    Windows Keyboard

Now you can use your mouse to click the ScrLk button and enable/disable the scroll-lock mode, as shown in the image below.

Windows Keyboard ScrLk

Now, if you go back to Excel with the ScrLk button disabled, you should be able to use the arrow keys function as intended.

If your arrow keys are missing or don’t work on your keyboard, use this same method to virtually click them, although this would take the same effort as manually clicking each cell within Excel, which the arrow keys feature should simplify.

Fix 3: Disable Scroll Lock Mode Within Excel

Excel

A few people said that even though they pressed the scroll-lock button on their keyboard, Excel still showed that it was in scroll-lock mode. Maybe this is a problem, so we advise turning scroll-lock mode on or off in Excel by doing these steps:

  1. Launch Excel on your PC.
  2. Create an empty sheet and wait for it to fully load.
  3. Right-click an empty area anywhere on the Excel status bar, then click on the Scroll Lock function. You’ll see a “tick” show left of it.
    Excel Scroll Lock function

Now, whenever you enable scroll lock in Excel using one of the methods taught in this guide, you’ll see its status in the bar, as shown in the image below.

Excel Scroll Lock Status

That will help you know whether pressing the pointer buttons on your keyboard makes the focus move to a different cell or move the sheet entirely.

That’s all there’s to it!

Conclusion

That’s everything you should know about reactivating the arrow keys in Excel. This could be a simple feature that you’ve accidentally toggled or a glitch that’s easily fixed by manually enabling the feature through the status bar, as shown in one of the methods above.

Hopefully, this will resolve your issue and get you back on track with your work.

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Bojan Veselinovikj
LinkedIn

Bojan is a video-game developer and a tech enthusiast. Combining these two passions allow him to keep you informed on everything that's new in this fast-paced digital world.