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How to Fix Arrow Keys Not Working in Excel – 7 Methods

Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for data analysis, but like any software, it can sometimes experience... read more

John Michaloudis
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Arrow Keys not working

Overview

Arrow Keys not working

Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for data analysis, but like any software, it can sometimes experience glitches or unexpected behavior. One common issue users encounter is problems with arrow keys not working as expected. Arrow keys are useful when navigating through Excel spreadsheets, allowing users to move from one cell to another. This functionality is handy when dealing with extensive datasets or complex worksheets.

However, users may encounter occasional hinderance when these arrow keys fail to function as expected, creating temporary obstacles for users. When Excel is actively processing a complex formula, the arrow keys may become unresponsive.

To restore the normal functionality of arrow keys, you have to wait for Excel to complete its calculation. Once the processing is finalized, the arrow keys usually resume their normal functionality, allowing users to seamlessly move through their data.

If this resolution does not apply, you can explore the 7 methods on How to Fix Arrow Keys Not Working in Excel –

Let us look at each of these methods in detail.

 

Method 1 – Turn Off Scroll Lock

If your arrow keys are not functioning, it might be because the scroll lock has been accidentally turned on. Resolving this issue may be as simple as turning off the scroll lock. To resolve this issue, follow these steps –

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STEP 1: Look for Screen Lock (often labeled as ScrLk) on your keyboard, positioned between the Print Screen and Pause/Break keys.

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 2: Press the Screen Lock button to disable the lock.

Modern keyboards typically lack this key. In such instances, you need to follow the steps below –

STEP 1: Click Search and type Settings.

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 2: Click Accessibility > Keyboard.

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 3: Click the On-Screen keyboard button.

Arrow Keys not working

 

STEP 4: On the virtual keyboard, click the ScrLk button.

Arrow Keys not working

You can also press the Windows logo key + Ctrl + O to turn the on-screen keyboard on or off.

 

Method 2 – Turn On Sticky Keys

Sticky Keys is an accessibility feature that assists users who may have difficulty holding down multiple keys simultaneously. You can use the sticky keys options to fix the issue with the arrow keys. Follow the steps below to troubleshoot it –

STEP 1: In the Search section, type Control Panel.

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 2: Click on Ease of Access.

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Arrow Keys not working

STEP 3: Click Change how your keyboard works.

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 4: Check the Turn on Sticky Keys box.

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 5: Click Apply and then OK.

Arrow Keys not working

To turn on sticky keys, press Ctrl + Alt + Del one key at a time.

 

Method 3 – Turn Off Scroll Lock in Excel

If your arrow keys are working in other applications but only in Excel, the Scroll Lock within Excel might be turned on. You can quickly turn it off –

STEP 1: Right-clicking on the status bar (bottom of the worksheet).

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 2: Clicking on Scroll Lock from the list.

Arrow Keys not working

 

Method 4 – Disable Add-Ins

Add-ins are supplemental programs or tools that extend the capabilities of Microsoft Excel. But sometimes these programs can cause hindrance in the normal functioning of the keyboard. To troubleshoot this issue, follow the steps below –

STEP 1: Click on the File tab and then select Options.

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 2: In the Excel Options dialog box, go to the Add-ins tab.

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 3: Go to the Manage box at the bottom, select Excel Add-ins, and click Go.

Arrow Keys not working

STEP 4: Uncheck all the add-ins, and then click OK.

Arrow Keys not working

Now, restart the Excel application and check the arrow keys. It should be working fine.

 

Method 5 – Exit Formula Mode

Excel has two main modes – Enter mode and Edit mode. When you enter data into a cell, you are in Enter mode. When you want to modify or create a formula, you enter Formula Mode, also known as Edit Mode.

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If you are editing a formula, Excel might prioritize the formula bar over arrow key navigation.

Arrow Keys not working

Press Enter to exit formula mode. This will reactivate the arrow keys again and you will be able to use them again.

 

Method 6 – Unfreeze Columns

Freezing and unfreezing panes in Excel is especially beneficial when dealing with large datasets where you want to keep certain rows or columns visible for reference. But if you have a frozen pane in your worksheet and you are navigating through the worksheet, you may think the arrow keys have stopped working.

To unfreeze columns, go to View > Freeze Panes > Unfreeze Panes.

Arrow Keys not working

 

Method 7 – Unprotect Worksheet

Worksheet protection is a valuable feature in Excel, especially in collaborative environments or when dealing with sensitive information. But protecting your worksheet can restrict certain actions, including arrow key navigation. To unprotect the worksheet, go to the Review tab and select Unprotect Sheet in the Protection Group.

Arrow Keys not working

If a password was set during protection, you will be prompted to enter the password. Enter the correct password and click OK.

Arrow Keys not working

 

Conclusion

By following these comprehensive steps, users can effectively troubleshoot and resolve arrow key issues in Excel. Each method is designed to address specific scenarios, ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted experience when navigating through Excel spreadsheets.

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You can either fix the arrow not working issue by utilizing simple solutions like turning on the scroll lock, activating sticky keys, or exiting edit mode. If the issue persists, you can either disable add-ins, unfreeze columns, or unprotect your worksheet.

You need to take time to investigate the root cause of the key malfunction and then troubleshoot the issue to be able to smoothly work on Microsoft Excel.

Learn more about Formulas with our 101 Advanced Excel Formulas & Functions Examples.

 

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Founder & Chief Inspirational Officer at MyExcelOnline.com

John Michaloudis is a former accountant and finance analyst at General Electric, a Microsoft MVP since 2020, an Amazon #1 bestselling author of 4 Microsoft Excel books and teacher of Microsoft Excel & Office over at his flagship Academy Online Course.

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