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How to Fix the Arrow Keys Not Working in Excel

If you are trying to navigate an Excel spreadsheet with the arrow keys but nothing happens, these tips should assist!

Excel logo

Arrow keys are not functioning properly in Microsoft Excel.

Working with Excel can be frustrating when it stops functioning properly, especially if you rely on it for work or school. One of the most effective ways to navigate around Excel is by using the arrow keys. However, there may be instances where the arrow keys suddenly stop working. There could be other reasons for this problem as well, which we will explain in greater detail on our website.


Simple Steps to Troubleshoot Arrow Keys Not Working in Microsoft Excel

If you are experiencing an issue where the arrow keys are not functioning in Excel, there could be a few potential explanations for this. Firstly, you should check that the arrow keys on your computer are working properly. If they aren’t, then it’s likely there is a problem with Windows. 

However, if the arrow keys are working outside of Excel, then it’s time to start debugging within the application itself. Below are a number of potential solutions you can try to help resolve the issue.


Method 1: How to Disable Scroll Lock on Your Keyboard.

When working with Excel, make sure Scroll Lock (ScrLk) is not enabled. 

This setting converts the arrow keys into scrolling buttons rather than moving ones. Find an on/off key on your keyboard and press it again to remove this feature.

on screen keyboard

You can disable Scroll Lock on your keyboard by utilizing the on-screen keyboard, which is an accessibility feature. For both Windows and macOS, use the search feature to locate the visual keyboard and the Scroll Lock button. Disable it, and then see if Excel can be navigated using arrow keys!


Method 2: Disabling Scroll Lock in Excel

You can also turn off the Scroll Lock feature in Excel itself. This can be accomplished by navigating to the Status bar and then deselecting the option.

  1. Start Microsoft Excel and then start a spreadsheet. You can alternatively start a new blank spreadsheet if you like.

      2. After the spreadsheet loads, right-click the Status bar. This appears at the very bottom of your workbook. You may identify it by looking for features like the Zoom slider and Page Layout.

excel selecting scroll lock

      3. Locate Scroll Lock in the Status bar’s context menu. If the function is displayed as “On,” click on it once to disable it.

Method 3: Enabling Sticky Keys in Windows.

If the arrow keys are not working in Excel, try enabling Windows’ Sticky Keys feature. While the Sticky Keys function may not directly address the issue, many users have reported it to be a solution.

  1. To open the search bar in your taskbar, click the magnifying glass symbol. You can also open it using the Windows + S keyboard shortcut.

      2. Type “Control Panel” in the search box and click to open.

searching control panel

       3. Click the Ease of Access header. If you can not see it, change the view mode to Category from the dropdown option in the top right corner.

Control panel

        4. Go to Ease of Access Center and click on “Change How Your Keyboard Works” to access keyboard settings.

Control panel to Ease Access Center

        5. Scroll down to the Make it Easy to type category. Turn on Sticky Keys by checking the empty box next to it.

Turn on Sticky Keys

        6. Click the Apply button, then exit the Control Panel. Now, see if you can browse Excel with the arrow keys.


Method 4: Disable your Excel add-ins.


Add-ins in Excel might cause issues when using the application. This occurs because add-ins typically introduce additional code to the application, which may conflict with the original features. To fix the arrow keys in Excel, you may need to disable any prior add-ins that were installed on your software.


  1. Launch Excel. Click Options in the left-hand window or select File > Options if you have a workbook open.

In excel select options

      2.From the left sidebar panel, select the Add-ins tab. You will get a list of all your Excel Add-in options. Click Go after selecting Excel Add-ins from the bottom dropdown menu.

Excel Add ins option

      3. To disable all of your Excel add-ins, first, uncheck the boxes next to each option in the Add-Ins dropdown menu. Then click OK and repeat the process for each item in the Manage context menu.

Add-ins in Excel

     4. After uninstalling add-ins, you may want to check if the arrow keys in Excel are functioning correctly. To do this, you can either create a new worksheet or open an existing one. If the problem is fixed, it is likely that one of the add-ins was causing a conflict with Excel.


Method 5: Use an AppleScript on macOS.


If you use a Mac, here’s how to make Excel more accessible. For some reason, arrow keys do not work by default on Mac systems while using Microsoft Excel. However, by running an AppleScript created expressly for this purpose, we can resolve the issue in seconds! The procedures to enable your arrow keys within Excel are as follows.


  1. To open the Launchpad, click on its icon in your dock. To launch the application, type “TextEdit” in the search window and press Enter.

New Text

      2. With TextEdit active, enter the File menu and select New from the context menu. This will create a new text document.

Select new

      3. Click the link below to open the script in your browser. Highlight the text and copy it by right-clicking and selecting “Copy” or using the shortcut ⌘ + C.

Text copy

      4. Return to the empty TextEdit document. Right-click anywhere in your document and select Paste from the context menu. Alternatively, press the ⌘ + V keyboard shortcut.

Paste text

     5. Navigate to File > Save. Alternatively, press the ⌘ + S keyboard shortcut. In the Save as area, enter “FixExcelKeys.applescript” without quotation marks and save the document to your desktop.


     6. To resolve the issue of being unable to navigate using the arrow keys in Excel on your Mac, please follow these steps:


  • Open Excel for Mac.
  • Navigate to your desktop and locate the FixExcelKeys.applescript file you saved there.
  • Double-click the file to run the AppleScript.


     This should resolve the issue and allow you to navigate using the arrow keys in Excel.


Final thoughts.

If you find it difficult to use the arrow keys in Microsoft Excel and it seems like you cannot navigate through the spreadsheet, don’t worry! We have some tips that can help you solve this issue if it happens again. First, make sure that your keyboard is set up correctly, and then try these strategies to start accessing your Excel files with ease.

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