Arrow keys help to move through the cells quickly in an Excel spreadsheet. But if they suddenly stop working, relying on the mouse for every move can be frustrating. If you’re unsure why this is happening, refer to our step-by-step guide to resolve the issue of arrow keys not working in Excel on Windows.
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First, try these simple fixes to see whether the problem can be solved without digging into more advanced settings.
- Wait it out – the arrow keys may have stopped working due to a temporary glitch in the Excel app. Wait a few seconds to see whether the problem resolves on its own.
- Close and reopen Excel – if the arrow keys still don’t work, close the Excel app, then reopen it to see if that solves the issue.
- Restart the PC – restarting your Windows computer takes less than a minute and will refresh all your processes, giving Excel a chance to start anew.
Many keyboards have a scroll key that is typically located near the function keys. If the scroll lock feature is enabled, and you see a green light above it, the arrow keys won’t work. To disable the feature, press on Scroll Lock and ensure that the green light is turned off.
Alternatively, use the on-screen keyboard to disable the scroll lock. Press Win + Ctrl + O to open the on-screen keyboard. If enabled, the ScrLk key will appear blue. Click it to disable its functionality.
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The Excel app has a scroll lock feature; ensure that you haven’t accidentally enabled it.
In the Excel app, right-click the status bar at the bottom. In the pop-up menu, check whether there is a tick next to Scroll Lock. If not, click on it to disable the feature.
3. Disable Add-ins in Excel
Though add-ins can be very useful, they can sometimes interfere with the functionality of Excel. To avoid any arrow key issues, disable all the add-ins you have installed on Excel.
Launch Excel on your computer, and click the File menu at the top. Click Options at the bottom of the menu on the left.
Click Add-ins in the left pane.
Check whether there are any add-ins listed under Active Application Add-ins. If that’s the case, click Excel Add-ins in the Manage drop-down box, and click Go.
Note: if there are no active add-ins, you can skip this section.
This will list all the active add-ins for Excel. Deselect all add-ins, then click OK.
All Excel add-ins have been disabled. Check to see whether the arrow keys are working. If they are, you can start re-adding your add-ins one by one to zero in on the add-in that was causing the issue in the first place.
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4. Unfreeze Panes
When working with large data sets in an Excel spreadsheet, users can freeze panes to keep specific areas visible while scrolling through other parts of the sheet.
In such a scenario, it may seem that the arrow keys are not working. In actuality, they are – you just have to follow the steps below to unfreeze the panes to use them throughout the entire spreadsheet.
Click View in Excel’s ribbon menu, then select Freeze panes -> Unfreeze Panes.
If you don’t wish to unfreeze panes, zoom out and use the arrow keys in the unlocked areas.
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5. Exit Formula Entry Mode
If you’ve accessed the formula entry mode, pressing the arrow keys won’t work as expected.
To exit the formula mode and bring back the functionality of arrows, hit the Enter key. Alternatively, press Ctrl + Z to undo the formula.
6. Turn On Sticky Keys
While Sticky Keys are not directly related to the functionality of the arrow keys, enabling them may help resolve your issue in Excel.
Though you can enable them from the Control Panel, the easiest way to turn on Sticky Keys is by pressing the Shift key 5 times.
Then, click Yes in the pop-up menu to enable stick keys on your Windows computer.
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If you are still facing issues with the arrow keys on Excel, consider that the arrow keys may be damaged. Verify this by testing another app. If they still don’t work, it may be time to invest in a new keyboard, such as a mechanical keyboard, or use the on-screen keyboard.
If more keys fail to respond to your input In addition to the arrow keys, you may want to check whether the keyboard is locked. Read on to learn how to unlock the keyboard.
Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Meenatchi Nagasubramanian.
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