12 Simple ways to fix Arrow keys not working for both Windows & iOS

  • Keycaps 101
  • Posted by: carson-rutz
  • Sep 23, 2022

Arrow keys are surely one of the most used keypresses ever. That’s why when arrow keys are not working on the keyboard or behave abnormally, you may want to tackle the problems asap.

In this article, we will go through 9 effective ways to fix the arrow keys not working so you don’t need to buy a new keyboard. After that, we hope that your keyboard arrows will work like before so your character in-game can move up and down, or you can program as usual.

Arrow keys on keyboard
Arrow keys on keyboard

Common reasons for arrow keys not working

Arrow keys
Arrow keys

In fact, there are some differing reasons why arrow keys stopped working. 

  • Physical Damage: Check if there is any physical damage to the arrow keys or the keyboard itself, such as debris or spilled liquids. If there is, you may need to clean or replace the affected keys or the entire keyboard.
  • Driver Issues: Outdated or corrupt keyboard drivers can cause issues with the arrow keys. To resolve this, you can update the keyboard drivers through the Device Manager in Windows or the System Preferences on macOS.
  • Num Lock: On some keyboards, the arrow keys share functionality with the number pad. Make sure Num Lock is turned off if you want to use the arrow keys.
  • Hardware Connection: If you are using an external keyboard, ensure that it is connected correctly to your computer. Reconnecting the keyboard or trying a different USB port may help.
  • In Excel: The arrow keys might become non-responsive when the worksheet is safeguarded or when the freeze panes function is activated.
  • In different applications: The arrow keys may cease to operate due to the activation of specific features or shortcuts. For instance, the arrow keys may lose their functionality when the insert mode is turned on.

How to fix ‘Arrow keys not working’ on keyboard?

Run Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter 

Firstly, the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter is a useful built-in tool in Windows that can help identify and resolve common hardware-related problems. If the issue with your arrow keys not working was due to a hardware problem that the troubleshooter detected and fixed, it should now be resolved. 

To run this process in Windows, follow these steps:

  • Open Settings by pressing the Win + I keys together or click on the Windows Start menu and select the gear-shaped "Settings" icon.
  • Go to Update & Security in the Settings window, click on "Update & Security."
  • Run Troubleshooter: In the left-hand sidebar, click on "Troubleshoot." Scroll down the Troubleshoot settings until you find "Hardware and Devices" in the list. Click on "Hardware and Devices," and then click the "Run the troubleshooter" button.
Run hardware and devices troubleshoot
Run hardware and devices troubleshoot
  • Follow On-Screen Instructions to detect and diagnose any hardware related issues.
  • Restart Your Computer to ensure that the changes take effect if the troubleshooter made any changes or repairs

However, in Mac, you can check out these steps:

  • Restart your Mac and hold down the "D" key until the Apple Hardware Test or Apple Diagnostics screen appears.
  • As you continue to hold the power button, your Mac turns on and loads startup options. When you see Options, release the power button.
  • Press and hold Command (⌘)-D on your keyboard.

Run Keyboard Troubleshooter 

If the previous ways can’t fix arrow keys, Keyboard Troubleshooter can be helpful:

Here are some steps for Windows:

  • Press Win+I to open Settings tools
  • Click Update and Security from the available options
  • From the left-side bar, select Troubleshoot
Troubleshoot panel
Troubleshoot panel
  • Scroll down and select Additional troubleshooters.
  • Find and run Keyboard Troubleshooter.

Check your BIOS settings

BIOS stands for Basic Input/ Output System. Its main jobs are to recognize, set up, test, and connect hardware to the output system right at the moment your computer starting. Therefore, there is a high chance your arrow keys are not working caused by outdated BIOS settings.

One of the ways is to update BIOS settings. The thing is installing a new BIOS setting is risky, especially if you are computer literate. So, check out this video to know when and how to update BIOS.

Use another USB port

Change to another usb port
Change to another usb port

When a USB port encounters issues, it can disrupt the communication between the keyboard and the computer, leading to non-responsive arrow keys.

Sometimes, a USB port can become temporarily unresponsive or have issues, and switching to a different port can help resolve the problem. If the arrow keys work when connected to a different USB port, it suggests that the original port may have been the issue.

You should unplug the Keyboard first, then choose and plug in a different USB Port. After plugging it in, test your keyboard to see if the arrow keys are now working properly.

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Restart PC

Another a-few-second method is restarting your computer. Well, you may encounter this method several times for almost any computer problem.

Here is how to restart your PC.

  1. Click the restart button.
  2. Window/ Power button/ Restart.

Update or Reinstall Keyboard Driver

1 - Update Keyboard Driver 

For Windows:

  • Open Device Manager: Press Win + X and select "Device Manager" from the context menu that appears.
  • Locate Keyboards: In Device Manager, expand the "Keyboards" category to display your keyboard(s).
  • Update Driver: Right-click on your keyboard device and select "Update driver."
Update driver method
Update driver method
  • Search Automatically for Updated Driver Software: Choose the option to search for driver software automatically. Windows will connect to the internet (if needed) and search for the latest driver updates for your keyboard.
Search automatically for drivers
Search automatically for drivers
  • Follow On-Screen Instructions: If Windows finds an updated driver, it will prompt you to install it. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the update.
  • Restart Your Computer: After updating the driver, it's a good practice to restart your computer to ensure that the changes take effect.

For Mac:  

  • Access Settings: Begin by accessing the settings menu by clicking on the Apple icon located in the upper-left corner.
  • Navigate to System Preferences: Choose the "System Preferences" option from the menu.
System preferences
System preferences
  • Double-Click the Keyboard Icon: Within the list of icons, give the keyboard icon a double-click.
  • Access Modifier Keys: Locate the checkbox labeled "Modifier Keys" and select it.
Modifier keys
Modifier keys
  • Perform Driver Updates: If any updates are available in this section, you'll find an option to install the appropriate driver software.

2 - Reinstall Keyboard Driver 

For Windows:

  • Open Device Manager: Follow steps 1 and 2 as mentioned above to open Device Manager.
  • Uninstall the Keyboard Driver: Right-click on your keyboard device and select "Uninstall device."
Uninstall keyboard driver
Uninstall keyboard driver
  • Confirm Uninstall: Confirm the uninstallation when prompted.
  • Restart Your Computer: After uninstalling the driver, restart your computer. Windows will automatically reinstall the keyboard driver during the startup process.
  • Test Your Keyboard: Once your computer has restarted, test your keyboard to see if the arrow keys are now working properly.

Cleaning the Arrow Keys

Clean your keyboard (source: hp)
Clean your keyboard (source: hp)

When things above are not effective or when you feel typing on keyboard arrows is stiff and unusual, it’s time to check the sanity issue of arrow keys.

The easiest way is t.o open the keycaps and clean them with a computer dustpan. Or, you can use a vacuum, an air-compressed bottle, or a sticky slime to take out the dust and debris.

The arrow keys may not function well if there’s some dirt or debris lodged beneath them. Try cleaning your keyboard and make sure there’s no dirt blocking keys or sensors.

You can check some simple steps to clean the keycaps and keyboards via this article.

Disable Scroll Lock

There are two main ways for Windows.

Using the Scroll Lock Key:

Scroll lock on keyboard
Scroll lock on keyboard
  • Locate the Scroll Lock key on your keyboard. It's usually labeled as "Scroll Lock," "ScrLk," or something similar.
  • Press the Scroll Lock key to toggle Scroll Lock on or off.
  • Check if the Scroll Lock indicator light (if your keyboard has one) turns off when you press the key.
  • Using the On-Screen Keyboard (Windows): If your physical keyboard lacks the Scroll Lock key, you can use the On-Screen Keyboard in Windows to control it.
  • Search for "On-Screen Keyboard" in the Windows Start menu and open it.
  • On the On-Screen Keyboard, you should see the "ScrLk" key. Click on it to toggle Scroll Lock on or off.

For Mac, there are also two main ways:

With Mac Short Keyboards

To activate or deactivate Scroll Lock on an Apple computer, use the key combination fn + Shift + F12. To deactivate Scroll Lock, press the same key combination once more.

With Mac Full-sized Keyboards

Turn on/off Scroll Lock by pressing F14. You may also require the combination of Shift + F14 to toggle Scroll Lock on and off using the Mac keyboard. These methods should be effective for the majority of Mac users. If you encounter issues, you can also attempt Command (CMD) + F14 as an alternative.

If your keyboard doesn't have the Scroll Lock key:

Turn off the cursor lock

Cursor lock, also known as mouse lock or pointer lock, is a feature in computer software that confines the mouse cursor to the boundaries of a specific window or screen area.

How to find the cursor lock on keyboard (source: tech advisor)
How to find the cursor lock on keyboard (source: tech advisor)

This lock can disrupt arrow key functionality by prioritizing mouse or controller input over the keyboard, aggressively capturing mouse input, occasionally neglecting keyboard commands, and interfering with the operating system's input mechanisms.

To resolve this, pressing "Alt + Tab" can temporarily exit full-screen mode, allowing interaction with other windows or apps.

Disable the Num lock

Num Lock is a keyboard function that allows you to toggle the functionality of the numeric keypad on a standard computer keyboard. The numeric keypad is the set of keys on the right side of most full-sized keyboards.

Num lock on keyboard (source: asap guide)
Num lock on keyboard (source: asap guide)

When Num Lock is turned on, these keys act as a numeric keypad, allowing you to input numbers and perform calculations more easily. When Num Lock is turned off, these keys typically function as navigation and editing keys, including the arrow keys.

To turn off Num Lock for Windows you can typically do one of the following:

  • Use the Num Lock key: Most keyboards have a Num Lock key, often labeled "Num Lock" or "NumLk." Pressing this key will toggle the Num Lock state on or off. 
  • Use a keyboard shortcut: Some keyboards also allow you to toggle Num Lock using a keyboard shortcut. This shortcut often involves pressing the "Fn" (Function) key in combination with a key that has a Num Lock icon or is labeled with "NumLk." 

Besides, for Mac, follow these steps:

  • Click the Apple logo and choose "System Preferences."
  • Within the System category, click on "Universal Access."
  • Navigate to the "Mouse" tab, and activate "Mouse Keys" by selecting "On." This allows you to control the mouse using the number pad: 8 moves it up, 2 down, 4 left, and 6 right.
  • To enable the shortcut for toggling Num Lock on and off, click on "Press the Option key five times." Then, close "System Preferences."
  • Simply press the "Option" key five times, and Mouse Keys will be enabled. Now, you can control the mouse using the number pad.

Remap your keyboard

Do all the above things. Troubleshoot many times. But, the worst-case scenario has still happened to you - arrow keys continue to refuse to work. Hold-off. You don’t need to go look for a new keyboard so fast.

Read this article on how to remap your keyboard easily if you want to reassign some unused keys to keyboard arrows.

Replace your keyboard

However, you may not prefer the arrow keys in other positions after remapping. Besides, your keyboard encounter problems like double typing. Then, this is time to replace your keyboard.

A good keyboard can go with you for a long time with minimum issues. Therefore, we recommend you do the homework before going to the keyboard store.

How to fix ‘Arrow keys not working’ in Excel? 

Disable Scroll Lock

Some keyboards have a Scroll Lock key, often labeled "Scroll Lock" or "ScrLk." If Scroll Lock is turned on, it can affect the behavior of arrow keys. Try pressing the Scroll Lock key to toggle it off. You can reread the previous part to find out the way to turn off Scroll Lock.

Turn off Sticky Keys

Sticky keys on windows 10
Sticky keys on windows 10

Occasionally, malfunctions related to the Sticky Keys functionality in Windows may lead Excel to perceive the Scroll Lock key as active, even when it's not. Deactivating Sticky Keys typically resolves this problem.

After you've disabled Sticky Keys, revisit the steps outlined in the first instruction to confirm that Scroll Lock is indeed turned off.

Exit Formula Mode and Edit Cell Mode

  • To exit Formula Entry mode in Excel, just press the Enter key. This mode activates when you choose a cell, input "=", and begin entering a formula. While in this state, using the arrow keys won't move through the worksheet; instead, they will modify the formula within the selected cell.
Formula entering mode in excel
Formula entering mode in excel
  • To restore the arrow keys' normal navigation function, hit Enter to exit the formula input mode. If any unintended modifications have been made, you can undo them by pressing Ctrl-Z. It's crucial to understand this behavior to ensure accurate data entry in Excel cells and prevent any misunderstandings.

Unprotect the Excel workbook

Unprotect sheet in excel
Unprotect sheet in excel

Upon accessing a safeguarded workbook or worksheet, cell selection and scrolling functionalities become restricted. To re-enable these features, you must first remove the protection from the sheet, allowing the arrow keys to function as intended. Once you've completed your tasks, you can reinstate the protection as needed.

Unfreeze Panes

Freezing panes in Excel alters arrow key behavior by locking specific rows or columns. Arrow keys then navigate within the visible area, excluding the frozen rows or columns. This can create the perception that arrow keys are malfunctioning, but they function within the frozen area.

To unfreeze panes in Excel, go to the "View" tab on the ribbon and click on the "Freeze Panes" dropdown. Then, select "Unfreeze Panes."

Unfreeze panes
Unfreeze panes

Disabling Third-Party Add-ins

Third-party add-ins in Excel can interfere with arrow keys and other keyboard shortcuts because they may override or conflict with Excel's default keybindings, causing unexpected behavior. 

To disable third-party add-ins in Excel:

  • Go to the "File" tab and click on "Options." from the left.
Backstage view
Backstage view
  • In the Excel Options window, select "Add-Ins."
  • In the Manage box, choose "COM Add-Ins" or "Excel Add-Ins" (depending on the type of add-ins). Click "Go."
Select excel add-ins
Select excel add-ins
  • Uncheck the boxes next to the third-party add-ins you want to disable.
  • Click "OK" or "OK" again to save your changes and disable the selected add-ins.
Disable selected add-ins
Disable selected add-ins

Wait for Complex Calculation to Finish

Sometimes the calculation would take time to finish. Therefore, at that time, arrow keys would not work. To solve this problem, be patient and wait for this process.


Arrow keys on apple keyboard
Arrow keys on apple keyboard

So far so good? Have you solved the arrow keys not working issue? We hope you are so you can save some bucks from buying a brand new keyboard.

But, if you are in need of buying a new one, here we have these Best keyboard lists for you to check out:

That arrow keys are not working can cause you a lot of trouble. So, learning some ways to fix it will be in handy for you. Or, you can help a coworker and see her surprise at how good you are.


Why are my arrow keys stopped working in Excel? 

The arrow keys in Excel may stop working due to various issues and these reasons below are of the most common ones:

  • Scroll lock being enabled. You can disable it using the Scroll Lock key on your keyboard or the on-screen keyboard.
  • Deactivating Sticky Keys typically resolves this problem. After that reconfirm Scroll Lock is indeed turned off.
  • Formula Entry mode being active. You can exit it by pressing Enter.
  • Remove the protection from the sheet, allowing the arrow keys to function as intended. 
  • Frozen rows or columns inside the current view. You can unfreeze them by selecting View > Freeze Panes > Unfreeze Panes.
  • Suspicious add-ins interfering with Excel. You can disable them by selecting File > Options > Add-ins > Excel Add-ins > Go and unchecking the add-ins you don’t need.
  • Wait for the calculation to complete.

What are the common reasons for arrow keys not working on a Mac? 

Here are the common reasons for arrow keys not working on a Mac:

  • Scroll lock being enabled. You can disable it using the Scroll Lock key on your keyboard or the on-screen keyboard.
  • Sticky Keys glitch is keeping scroll lock enabled.
  • Reinstall Keyboard Driver
  • Run Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter
  • Clean Your Keyboard

How to troubleshoot unresponsive arrow keys on a wireless keyboard?  

Here are some possible ways to troubleshoot unresponsive arrow keys on a wireless keyboard which can be both applied to Mac and Windows:

  • Check if the batteries are low or dead.
  • Check if there is any interference from other wireless devices.
  • Check if there is any physical damage to the keyboard.
  • Try resetting the keyboard by turning it off and then back on again.
  • Restart Your Computer
  • Check Bluetooth Settings: remove the keyboard from the paired devices list. Then, pair it again.
  • Check Accessibility Settings: Some accessibility features can affect keyboard behavior. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility and review any enabled settings that might affect your keyboard.
  • Try Another Keyboard: To rule out a hardware problem with your specific keyboard, try using another wireless keyboard on the same computer. If the new keyboard works, your original keyboard might be faulty.
  • Try connecting your wireless keyboard to another computer to see if the issue persists. 
  • Seek Manufacturer Support

How to fix arrow keys stop functioning without Scroll Lock?

There is only one most popular tip to fix arrow keys not working that is use On-Screen Keyboard, which is available on your computer.