Why are my arrow keys not working? What to do

Arrow keys on a keyboard.

The best part about using a computer is when it works seamlessly and without unnecessary breaks. It allows your workflow to be more productive, whether you are typing for work or using it for play. 

Because the computer is made up of many parts, it’s easy for something to go wrong. In some cases, it could be your keyboard that goes faulty. Some keys may simply decide not to function and mess up your entire work process which can be really annoying. 

If you’re having issues with your keyboard and your arrow keys are refusing to work, (refusing to move up, down, or sideways) this may impede your day-to-day use. Not to worry, there are solutions that can get you back on track in no time. 

Here’s what you need to do if you find out that your arrow keys are no longer working. Don’t lose hope yet. 

Test Your Keyboard to Make Sure It Doesn’t Work

Sometimes, your computer may need a little bit of a push to do the job it has so seamlessly done in the past. This does not mean that it is faulty. So, before you fiddle around trying to fix your keyboard, first ensure that it is actually not working. 

If you mess around and tamper with things you shouldn’t touch, you may end up causing more damage to your keyboard. This is why it is first necessary to run a test to ensure that your keyboard is truly non-functional.

Test Different USB Ports

One of the easiest tests is using a different USB port. Simply unplug the keyboard’s USB and plug it into another port. If it works, the previous USB port it was plugged into may be defective and you have other issues.

Test with a Different Computer

Another way to test the keyboard is to plug it into another computer. Sometimes it’s the computer that has trouble recognizing the keyboard.

Test By Booting into BIOS

If you don’t have another computer to test the arrow keys or the USB port test isn’t successful, try booting into the BIOS. Keep in mind this is specifically for a PC, not Mac computers.

  • First, you need to access the computer’s utility setup screen.
  • Start by identifying the F10 key on your keyboard. 
  • Next, power down your computer and turn it back on while simultaneously pressing the F10 key.
  • Don’t remove your hand from this key until a new screen appears. This is the BIOS utility screen that you will use to test whether your arrow keys are still functional. 

The utility screen will help you test your arrow keys functionality because to navigate this screen, you use the arrow keys. Try to navigate through the options on the screen using the arrow keys. 

If after all this, they do not function, then it is possible that your arrow keys are bad and you can now look for further help.

Check if Scroll Lock is Enabled

Sometimes, you may unconsciously turn on your scroll lock button. The scroll lock button, also known as ‘ScrlLk,’ is not commonly used on the keyboard, but is so easy to press unconsciously. 

So, if you mistakenly pressed on the button, it would lock your arrow keys which would prevent them from navigating as they should. 

Turning off this lock is as easy as pressing the scroll lock button to deactivate its function.  

Check if Number Lock is Enabled

Just like the Scroll Lock button, the Num Lock key is another easy-to-press, rarely-used key that can stop your arrow keys from working. If you accidentally turn the Num Lock key on, you may find that a small light on the top right of your keyboard has been turned on. 

Pressing the Num Lock key will disable the lock function and turn off the light. Not all keyboards will have this light, but pressing may release your arrow keys. 

Look for Any Debris in the Keyboard

One of the problems keyboard users face is having their keyboard keys jammed with debris and other small pieces of items. This is a result of poor keyboard maintenance.

When you don’t clean your keyboard regularly, it allows debris, dust, grime, etc., to build up beneath the keys causing it to get jammed or sticky. Cleaning out your keyboard may take some effort, but the final result will be worthwhile. 

If you have a mechanical keyboard, use a keycap puller to emove the keycaps and clean out the inside. Take your time to thoroughly wipe out whatever debris may have been lodged inside using a cleaning solution, Q-tip, and cloth. Compressed air is helpful in clearing debris out of your keyboard as well.

If you’re not sure how to clean out the keycaps, there are many YouTube tutorials that will show you how. 

Once the keys are cleaned up and you fix them back in, try out the arrow keys again to see how they respond. If debris and dirt was the issue, they should function perfectly again. 

Try Reinstalling the Keyboard Driver

Sometimes, the arrow keys may be unresponsive because something is wrong with the driver. It may be a case of a faulty driver that needs an update. A device driver is a set of files that instructs the piece of hardware, such as your keyboard, how to work by interacting with your computer’s operating system (OS).

If your computer installed the wrong keyboard driver then you may need to take some steps to rectify the issue. Sometimes, faulty drivers can fix themselves if you restart your computer, so go ahead and try that option first. If this doesn’t work, you may need to uninstall the keyboard driver.

On a PC, type in Device Manager in your start menu, then look for your keyboard. Once you find it, right-click on it to uninstall the driver. Restart your computer again to help you download and install the appropriate driver for your computer. 

If this doesn’t happen automatically, find out how to do it manually by going to your keyboard manufacturer’s website. Learn how to manually install the keyboard driver and do it on your own. 

Still having issues with installing it? Call the manufacturing company’s customer support and ask for assistance.

Buy a New Keyboard

This is the last and final option if all else has failed to work. It is only wise to go for this if you cannot get your keyboard in good shape after trying out our tips and hacks. Perhaps, it is time for you to get a keyboard upgrade or at least, something more functional than your faulty keyboard. 

If you’ve been hoping to buy a mechanical keyboard with high-end functions and features, now is your time to do so. Mechanical keyboards are more versatile than membrane keyboards and give you the opportunity to customize your typing experience.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your keyboard in top shape can help you avoid jammed keys that may not allow your arrow keys to work properly. Other times, your arrow keys may be non-functional because you accidentally pressed a lock key or downloaded the wrong driver. 

Once you are able to rectify these issues, you may be able to revive your arrow keys and get back into your game or work mode. If unfortunately you can’t fix the arrow keys, perhaps you may consider changing your keyboard.

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