Why are the numbers not working on your keyboard?

numbers not working
Doesn't add up: find out why your number keys are on strike

Got one of those numeric keypads on the side of your keyboard? Can’t work out why the numbers are not working? Y’know, the ones PRINTED ON THE DAMNED KEYS!

It’s one of those problems where you’ll want to slap yourself with a wet haddock when you find out how easy it is to solve. So let’s not waste any more time and put you out of your misery.

The most likely reason that your numeric keypad isn’t working is because you’ve got the NUM LOCK switched off. NUM LOCK works in much the same way as CAPS LOCK, but instead ensures that the numbers appear instead of capital letters.

With NUM LOCK switched off, the keys will revert to their secondary functions, which is normally as a set of arrow keys, with Home, Page Up, Page Down and End in the four corners of the numberpad. If you never actually use the numeric keypad, these can actually be quite useful when navigating documents.

On some fancy keyboards, such as the Logitech Craft keyboard I’m typing on currently, you might struggle to work out what the NUM LOCK key is, because they don’t print the words on the key itself.

If you can’t find it, look for a number encased in a padlock or something similar. It’s a bit like the toilets in fancy pubs, where they replace the words GENTS and LADIES with pictures of Bruce Forsyth and Cilla Black (insert your own contemporary stars here). You do wish people would just grow up sometimes.

Num Lock key

If the NUM LOCK doesn’t breathe the life back into your keys, then you may need to look for other causes, such as a spillage or dirt under the keys. Our guide to cleaning your keyboard should help.

NOW READ THIS: What does the AltGr key actually do?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.


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  • I purchased a Logitech MX KEYS keyboard, it is fully charged, the num lock is off and the numeric keys still won’t work. This is a brand new keyboard. When the num lock is off, I don’t see any light indicating that. How do I get the use of the numeric keypad?

  • I have a newer MX KEYS blue tooth keyboard. I’ve read all the instructions to activate the numeric keypad–no matter what I do, turn num loc off, or on, or press other keys, the numerica keypad does not work. The arrow keys, pg up or pg dn do not work either. They are a group of keys that do nothing. What to do?