Arrow keys don't work: You can do that

Arrow keys don't work: You can do that

Oops, why didn't the arrow keys suddenly work anymore? The problem is often resolved quickly. In the best case, you only have to press one button.

By Sven Wernicke

In everyday work on the computer you probably do not need the arrow keys continuously. They are most commonly used in Microsoft's Excel and other spreadsheet programs. If they then suddenly don't work, it can get annoying. In most cases, the solution is found quickly: The cause is usually the scroll button.

Arrow keys not working properly: Turn off scrolling


If roles are activated, this can lead to problems. Image: © Screenshot 2022

The so-called scroll key dates back to the dawn of PCs and has hardly any meaning these days. But if you accidentally click them, you can no longer switch between cells and columns in Excel as usual. As strange as it may sound, this is a feature, not a bug. This is how you restore the original state:

  1. Tap the Scroll Lock or SCRLK key on your keyboard. It is located between the Print and Pause buttons.
  2. If you have a keyboard without a scroll key, type in the Windows search or under "Start > On- Screen Keyboard" and confirm your entry. Left-click the virtual reel button to turn it off.

Tip: In Excel you can see in the bottom left of a table whether the scroll key is active or not. If the word "Scroll" is there, this is an indication that the arrow keys are not working as usual. If "Scrolling" is deactivated, there is nothing at this point either.  

Note: An activated Num Lock can also prevent you from using the arrow keys correctly. Switch this off as a test.

Fix Excel-typical problems with the arrow keys

If you don't want the arrow keys to work the way you do, especially in Excel, it could be due to installed add-ins. You can switch off these extensions as a test:

  1. In Excel, go to "File > Options > Add-Ins".
  2. Under "Active Application Add-ins," select each add-in one at a time and click "Go…".
  3. Uncheck any add-in to disable it.
  4. Repeat for all active add-ins.

Then restart Excel. If it folds with the arrow keys, gradually activate the add-ins again. This is how you track down the culprit.

Check hardware and software defects

Windows-11-Apps für Studenten

A restart can already help with problems. Image: © Microsoft 2022

If this did not lead to the desired success, there could be technical problems with the keyboard or even the computer. Sometimes there are also problems with the software. So try the following:  

  1. Restart the computer to fix possible problems.
  2. Connect your wired keyboard to a different USB port on your computer and check if the error no longer occurs.
  3. Research whether new drivers are available for your keyboard. You can find them on the manufacturer's website.
  4. Press Windows key + R, type "Control", select "Ease of Access" "Change how the keyboard works" and turn on "Enable sticky keys" and then turn it off again. This may solve problems.
  5. Hold down the Windows key and use the arrow keys to move left or right. If the positions of the active windows change here, a hardware defect should be ruled out.
  6. If dirt could be the problem: Gently pry the arrow keys out of the keyboard and use a slightly damp cotton swab or a small vacuum nozzle to remove dirt and crumbs. After cleaning, press the keys back into their designated places and try again. Note: This is easier or more difficult depending on the keyboard you are using. If in doubt, consult a more experienced user or find out from the manufacturer whether you can easily remove and insert the keys.
  7. If you have a special keyboard, for example with many special keys and the option of programming keys individually, take a look at the associated software to configure the arrow keys if necessary.

If the arrow keys still don't work, you should test the keyboard on another computer. If you have the same problems there, you need a new keyboard.


  • In most cases, the scroll key is responsible for the arrow keys not working anymore. A simple press of the scroll button can be enough.
  • In Excel, it makes sense to disable the add-ins (temporarily) if you have problems with the arrow keys.
  • Difficulties with software and hardware cannot be ruled out. You should definitely clean the arrow keys, update drivers, use a different USB port and restart the computer.
  • Test the keyboard on another computer.
  • If nothing helps, there is a defect. Then you need a new keyboard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.