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How to fix the keyboard by typing numbers instead of letters

How to fix the keyboard by typing numbers instead of letters

You type on your laptop and suddenly some of the keys start to register as numbers and symbols instead of letters. What happens? The answer is most likely in the Num Lock key. Here’s why and how to fix it.

What is Num Lock?

Num Lock, short for «Num Lock», is a feature of PC keyboards dating back to the first IBM computer in 1981. To save space on the keyboard, IBM decided to make the keyboard keys numeric keypad performed a dual function, both as numeric and cursor keys. To switch modes between them, IBM introduced Num Lock key.

Below is an example of the typical placement of the numeric keypad on a desktop keyboard.

Numeric keypad on an IBM Model M keyboard.

With Num Lock enabled, the numeric keypad on a desktop computer works like the keyboard on an add-on machine with numbers and symbols (such as *, /, and +) representing mathematical operations. If Num Lock is off, the keyboard is registered as cursor keys (such as up and down arrows) and some edit keys (such as Home and Insert).

What’s different about Num Lock on a laptop?

Most laptops do not have dedicated digital pads, so Num Lock works differently on them. Instead of changing the cursor keys to numbers, convert a section of the QWERTY letters on the keyboard to a virtual number keyboard.

Below is an example of a keyboard made by Acer for a Windows 10 laptop. When you press the Num Lock key (shown here highlighted in a red rectangle), 15 of the keys change mode to a simulated numeric keypad. When you push them, they are registered as a symbol highlighted in the red circle.

Example of numeric lock keys on a laptop keyboard

Your laptop will most likely look different from this, but many manufacturers use some variants of using the keys on the right side of the keyboard, such as a numeric pad with Num Lock.

As a result, if you accidentally press the Num Lock key on a laptop, you may have a similar problem with the following.

Example of accidentally activated numeric lock with a laptop

In this case, type numbers instead of letters, because the Num Lock key is activated. Here’s how to stop it.

How to Disable Num Lock on a Laptop

The first step in disabling Num Lock is to find the Num Lock key on the laptop keyboard. Its location can vary greatly depending on the laptop manufacturer, but it is usually in the upper right corner of the keyboard.

Look for a small key that contains some variations of «Num Lock», «NumLk» or even a small padlock symbol with a number 1 inside.

For example, here is the location of the Num Lock key on an Acer laptop.

An example of a Num Lock key for your laptop

In this case, the Num Lock key works as the F12 key and by default is Num Lock.

Some laptops may ask you to hold down a function key (commonly referred to as «Fn») while pressing Num Lock to turn it on or off.

Some laptop keyboards may also have an indicator light that shows whether Num Lock is on or off. For example, this YouTube video shows the location of the Num Lock key and its light on the keyboard of a Sony VAIO laptop.

Your laptop will vary. If you’re having trouble locating the Num Lock key, try searching for a combination of the manufacturer’s name + «laptop» + «Num Lock key location» in Googleand you may find websites with specific laptop instructions. For example, Google «the location of the Lenovo laptop number lock key» and you will find information about the Num Lock key on different ThinkPad laptops.

Preventing future accidents with Num Lock

Now that you know the Num Lock key, you can easily turn it off if you ever accidentally find yourself typing numbers again. If you want to receive an audible alert when you press the Num Lock key, follow this guide to make your computer Beep when you enter the Num Lock key , to find out if he accidentally pressed it. There is also a way to see a notification in the taskbar if you activate Num Lock.

Good luck and happy writing!