[Fixed!] Keyboard Arrow Keys Not Working in Excel (7 Fixes)

Solution 1 – Turn Off the Scroll Lock

One of the most common reasons for arrow keys not working properly is that the Scroll Lock is turned on. You can check the Scroll Lock status from the left side of the status bar in the Excel window. To turn off Scroll Lock:

  • Go to the Windows Search Bar and type “On-Screen Keyboard”.
  • Click on the On-Screen Keyboard application.
    The on-screen keyboard will appear.
  • Click on the ScrLK button.
    Applying On-Screen Keyboard to Turn Off Scroll Lock

This will turn off the Scroll Lock and unlock the arrow keys.

Solution 2 – Turn On/Off Sticky Keys

Sticky Keys are not directly related to arrow keys not working, but if the Sticky Keys are enabled, it might affect the arrow keys’ functionality. Toggling the Sticky Keys sometimes fixes the problem.

To enable or disable the Sticky Keys:

  • Open the Control Panel on your computer.
  • Click on Ease of Access.
    Turn on Sticky Keys If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  • Click on Change how your keyboard works.
    Turn on Sticky Keys If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  • Tick/untick the Turn on Sticky Keys option from the Make it easier to type section.
  • Click on OK.

This will solve any problems with the arrow keys caused by Sticky Keys.

Solution 3 – Exit Cell Selection Mode

If you have selected a particular cell for editing or inserting formulas, you might be in editing mode. You cannot use the arrow keys to navigate cells in this mode.

Press the Esc button to exit cell selection mode. If you are entering a formula, press Enter after completing the formula. This will get you out of the cell selection mode.

Escape Formula Entry Mode If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel

Solution 4 – Disable Add-ins

Sometimes enabled add-ins might modify or interrupt the normal arrow key action. Disabling them might return normal functionality of the arrow keys.

To disable add-ins in Excel:

  • Click on File beside the Home tab.
    Deactivate Add-Ins If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  • Click Options.
    Deactivate Add-Ins If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  • Click on Add-Ins > Go.
    Deactivate Add-Ins If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  • Unmark all the Add-ins and click OK.

This will solve any arrow key problems caused by add-ins.

Solution 5 – Disable Worksheet Protection

If the Excel worksheet or workbook is protected with a password then you might not be able to perform any actions on your sheet, including using the arrow keys properly.

To disable worksheet protection:

  • Go to the Home tab > Cells group > Format > Unprotect Sheet.
    Unprotect Your Sheet If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  • Enter the password and click OK.

This will unlock the worksheet, and arrow keys will function as expected again.

Read More: How to Unlock Arrow Keys in Excel

Solution 6 – Allow Time to Finish Complex Operations

For large and complex operations, Excel might temporarily disable the worksheet navigation and editing to reduce stress on the processor. During this time, the arrow keys might not work properly.

In such situations, give Excel the required time to finish the complex processes and then try to use the arrow keys again.

Solution 7 – Check the Keys on the Keyboard

If the above-mentioned methods do not work, the problem might not be related to Excel.

Consider checking your keyboard hardware. Sometimes, the keys get stuck due to repetitive use. Driver failure is another potential reason for arrow keys not working.

To fix such issues, try these solutions:

  • Check the arrow keys in other applications. If they are not performing correctly, then try other keyboards and/or update the keyboard driver.
  • If the keys are working in other applications but not in Excel, try reinstalling Excel.
  • There might be other software that is causing the problem. Try stopping other applications, including those running in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can corrupted Excel files cause arrow key issues?

While it’s uncommon, corrupted Excel files can potentially cause issues. Try opening a new, blank workbook and see if the arrow keys work. If they do, the problem may be with the specific file. In this case, you may need to repair or recreate the file.

Are there any third-party Excel add-ins or macros that might interfere with arrow keys?

Yes, third-party add-ins or macros can sometimes conflict with Excel functionality. Disable any recently installed add-ins or macros and see if the arrow keys start working. You can do this through Excel’s “Options” menu under the “Add-Ins” or “Macros” section.

How do I toggle the “Scroll Lock” key on Mac?

For extended keyboards: Press the F14 key or Fn+F14. For shorter keyboards without a numeric pad, press Fn+F12, Shift+F12, or Fn+Shift+F12 depending on your system.

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Md. Sourov Hossain Mithun
Md. Sourov Hossain Mithun

Md. Sourov Hossain Mithun, an Excel and VBA Content Developer at Softeko's ExcelDemy project, joined in October 2021. Holding a Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering degree from BUET, Mithun showcases expertise during his two-year tenure. With over 200 published articles on Excel topics, he earned a promotion to Team Leader, excelling in leading diverse teams. Mithun's passion extends to Advanced Excel, Excel VBA, Data Analysis, and Python programming, contributing significantly to the innovative and dynamic environment of ExcelDemy... Read Full Bio

  1. Thanks so helpful

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