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

Arrow keys in Excel help in navigation, cell selection, and scrolling through the worksheet. The arrow keys’ functionality might get interrupted while working due to add-ins, worksheet protection, Scroll Lock turned on, etc.

In this Excel tutorial, you will learn 7 possible reasons and fixes for keyboard arrow keys not working in Excel.

To fix keyboard arrow keys not working in Excel, here are the 7 solutions:

Turn Off the Scroll Lock

One of the most common reasons for arrow keys not working properly is 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, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Windows Search Bar and type “On-Screen Keyboard”.
  2. Click on the On-Screen Keyboard application.
    The on-screen keyboard will appear.
  3. 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.

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 buttons function. Toggling the Sticky Keys sometimes fixes the problem.

To enable or disable the Sticky Keys, follow these steps:

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

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

Exit Cell Selection Mode

If you have selected a particular cell for editing or inserting formulas, you might be in editing mode. In this mode, you can not 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

Disable Add-ins

Sometimes the enabled add-ins might modify or interrupt the normal arrow keys action. Disabling them might help to regain normal functionality of the arrow keys.

To disable add-ins in Excel, follow the steps below:

  1. Click on File beside the Home tab.
    Deactivate Add-Ins If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  2. Click Options.
    Deactivate Add-Ins If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  3. Click as follows: Add-Ins > Go.
    Deactivate Add-Ins If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  4. Unmark all the Add-ins and press OK.

This will solve any arrow key problem regarding add-ins.

Disable Worksheet Protection

If the Excel worksheet or workbook is protected with a password then you might not be able to perform anything on your sheet. To use the arrow keys properly, you must disable the worksheet protection.

TO disable worksheet protection, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Home tab > Cells group > Format > Unprotect Sheet.
    Unprotect Your Sheet If Keyboard Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel
  2. Give the password and press OK.

This will unlock the worksheet and arrow keys will perform accordingly.

Read More: How to Unlock Arrow Keys in Excel

Give Time to Finish the 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.

Check Other Keys in the Keyboard

If the above-mentioned methods do not work, you might consider checking your keyboard hardware. Sometimes, the keys get stuck due to repetitive use. Also, driver failure might also be a 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 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 them from running in the background as well.


There are several possible reasons why the arrow keys may not be working properly in Excel, such as the Scroll Lock being turned on, Sticky Keys being enabled, being in cell selection mode, enabled add-ins, worksheet protection, frozen or grouped data, complex operations, or keyboard hardware issues. Try these fixes provided and feel free to ask any questions regarding this topic in the comment section. Thank you!

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 based on the system preference.

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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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