How to Fix Arrow Keys Not Working in Excel? Try These Methods in 2023!

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arrow keys not working in excel

Although Microsoft Excel is an excellent spreadsheet program, it is not without issues. The inability to navigate across cells using the arrow keys is one prevalent problem.

Because of this, users are compelled to utilize the mouse in order to alter cell data. This leads to major time wasting as well as productivity problems. To help you resolve the arrow keys not working in Excel problem, we have developed 11 solutions.

1. Disable the Keyboard’s Scroll Lock.

The scroll lock is one of the primary causes of your arrow keys not moving across cells. If the Excel file has a Scroll Lock indicator in the lower left corner, your device has the scroll lock enabled.

For Windows Users:

Simply click the Scroll Lock (Scr Lk) key on your keyboard to disable the scroll lock on your Windows device.

What happens if you can’t find or don’t have the Scroll Lock key on your keyboard? Don’t worry, though. To achieve this, you can utilize the on-screen keyboard.

Simply use Windows Search (Windows key + S) to find the on-screen keyboard, then click on it to start using it.

The Excel scroll lock can then be disabled by clicking the ScrLk key.

For Mac Users:

In order to remove the scroll lock on a Mac, hit fn + Shift + F12. Alternatively, if you have a full-size magic keyboard, you can press the F14 Key or fn/Shift + F14 key.

You can try executing an AppleScript if your Mac’s keyboard shortcuts aren’t working. And don’t worry, it’s an easy process. Here is a detailed procedure:

  1. Locate and open the Script Editor app by clicking the Launchpad or by using Spotlight (Cmd + Space).
  2. Press the icon labeled “New Document.”
  3. Paste the following script into the text field:
  4. Next, click the Run (Play Icon) icon located on the top toolbar (be sure the Excel file is open in the background beforehand).

That is all. On a Mac, this should disable the scroll lock. You are welcome to store the script for further usage.

2. Verify Arrow Key Functionality

arrow keys not working in excel

Why don’t you try your arrow keys on other applications if there isn’t a problem with the scroll lock? If the arrow keys aren’t working in those programs either, there may be a keyboard driver issue or the arrow keys may have stopped working altogether.

However, if the arrow keys function as they should, you can fairly infer that your Excel software is the source of the issue.

3. Exit Edit Mode

Generally, you can move between cells when editing cell data by using the arrow keys. The arrow keys won’t work as intended, though, if you use F2 (Windows) or control + U (Mac) to enter edit mode. To exit edit mode in the event that this occurs, just hit the same keys once again. This will enable cell-to-cell movement using the arrow keys again.

4. Restart Your Device

One of the best methods to fix issues with a gadget is to restart it. There are a gazillion anecdotes online about how a straightforward restart resolved problems of all sizes. Therefore, if your arrow keys aren’t working, we strongly advise you to try restarting your Mac or Windows computer. Other Excel-related problems and glitches that may have developed during the device’s use may also be resolved with this step.

5. Disable Excel Add-Ins

You may improve the functionality of Microsoft Excel by using add-ins, which are useful tools. But occasionally, these add-ins may also be the cause of Excel’s arrow key malfunctions. To see if this resolves the problem, you should try turning off the Excel Add-ins. This is the entire procedure:

  1. Click the File tab after opening the Excel file.
  2. Choose Options from the sidebar on the left.
  3. Navigate to the Add-ins area in the subsequent window. Next, select the Excel Add-ins option from the drop-down menu by clicking on it, and click the Go button.
  4. Click OK after unchecking every single add-in.
  5. Return to your worksheet and check if this resolves the Excel arrow key problem.

To disable the remaining Excel Add-ins, follow the same instructions again and select a different option from the dropdown menu if the arrow keys are still not working.

6. Wait for the Excel File to Fully Load

arrow keys not working in excel

You might not be able to see the entire workbook if you’re using Excel Web. This could also be the cause of the arrow keys’ malfunction. Simply wait for Excel to fully load in your web browser before doing any editing to resolve this. Using the arrow keys should no longer be an issue after doing this.

7. Remove the Frozen Panes

What if your arrow keys are acting weirdly because Freeze Panes is activated on the Excel file you are editing? You should unfreeze the worksheet’s panes if that is the actual case.

If you’re unfamiliar with Freeze Panes, it’s a feature that lets you maintain visibility of specific rows and columns while the worksheet scrolls to reveal more information.

In Excel, all you have to do is click on the Freeze Panes tool under the View tab, then choose the Unfreeze Panes option.

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8. Repair the Office App

Occasionally, software bugs, missing data, or corrupt registry files might cause your Excel application to behave strangely, such as causing the arrow keys to stop working. If so, you may attempt fixing your Microsoft Office application:

  • Go to Settings > Applications > Installed programs by pressing the Windows key + I.
  • Select the Office/Microsoft 365 app from the app list, then click the Meatball icon (three dots) next to it.

As an alternative, you can use the Control Panel to fix the Office application.

  • A fresh window shall appear. You then have the option of selecting either Online Repair or Quick Repair. If Quick Repair isn’t successful, you can try Online Repair after that. However, we advise starting with Quick Repair first.
  • Click the Repair option to start the Quick Repair, which will fix your Office and Microsoft 365 applications.

You can access the Excel file after the repair is complete to see if the arrow keys problem has been resolved. Proceed to the next solution if not.

9. Upgrade the Keyboard Driver

arrow keys not working in excel

We’ve looked into a number of possibilities up to this point, but one that we missed is the keyboard driver. A driver that is out-of-date or corrupt might occasionally cause your keyboard to behave strangely, impacting keys like the arrow keys.

You may only need to update or reinstall the keyboard driver in order to resolve this. To do that, take the actions listed below:

  1. Use the Windows key + X shortcut or right-click the Start button to open the WinX menu, then select the Device Manager option.
  2. To update or uninstall a device, double-click the Keyboards folder, expand it, and then right-click on the desired device.

We are using the Update driver option in this case.

  1. The following window will give you the following two choices:
  • Look up drivers automatically
  • Look through my computer for drivers.

The first option is yours to choose. The optimal drivers for your device are already installed, if there is an update available, it will begin installing; if not, you will receive this warning.

10. Exit Formula Entry Mode

We’ve been talking about technical solutions up until now. But have you ever made sure you’re in the formula entry mode in Excel? Similar to this mode, instead of moving the pointer across the page, your arrow keys move within the calculation.

Simply hit the Enter key to end this mode, and your arrow keys will start to move between cells normally.

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11. Reinstall Microsoft Office

The only thing left to do is to think about reinstalling the Office application if none of the aforementioned fixes have been successful for you. Reinstalling software can occasionally address issues that other troubleshooting techniques are unable to solve. How to reinstall is as follows:

  • Go to Settings > Applications > Installed Apps by pressing the Windows key + I.
  • Next to the Office/Microsoft 365 software, click the Meatball icon (three dots) and choose Uninstall.
  • After that, follow the on-screen directions to uninstall the software from your computer.
  • After uninstalling, download and reinstall Office or Microsoft 365 on your computer to check if that resolves the arrow key problem.