How to Fix Arrow Keys if they Stopped Working: 5 Unexpected Causes

There’s nothing worse than a malfunctioning keyboard. Trying to find what’s causing these issues can be very headache-inducing. Especially when you don’t even know what to look for.

So what should you look for?

There are a few things that could cause arrow keys to stop working. These include a faulty driver, a jammed key, the cursor is turned off, num lock is activated, scroll lock is activated, or the obvious answer, the keyboard needs to be replaced.

In this article, I will be going over all of these issues. I will explain how to test if they are the root of the problem. Hopefully, after reading this quick little guide, you will know exactly how to fix arrow keys if they stopped working on your computer keyboard.

How to Fix Arrow Keys if they Stopped Working
How to Fix Arrow Keys if they Stopped Working

Run a Test

Before you go fiddling around with your keyboard, it’s important to make sure that it’s actually broken. Nothing worse than trying to “fix something that ain’t broke” as the saying goes.

An easy way to test your arrow keys is to access your computers setup utility screen. Most average computer users have never accessed the screen but don’t be too intimidated as it’s very easy to do.

The reason the screen will be useful for testing your arrow keys is that in this menu those keys are the only ones that function. There’s no other way to navigate the menu.

Here are the steps to access your computer’s utility setup screen.

  • First, make sure you know where your function wrote is and find the f10 key. This will be important for the next steps.
  • Next power down your computer.
  • With your hand ready to go, reboot the computer and continually press the f10 key.
  • Continue to do so until you’re brought to a new screen which you may have never seen before. This is the utility screen.

If you’re having trouble getting to this point consider contacting computer tech support.

If you’ve successfully made it to this point, you can now try navigating the menus. Try moving up and down and see what happens. Try tapping quickly and slowly. Then try unplugging the keyboard and plugging it into a different USB port. If nothing seems to work then it’s time to look at some solutions.

To get out of this menu, you can simply press f9 to setup defaults and then press f10 to save and exit. This should take you back to your desktop home screen.

Faulty Driver Might Need an Update

I’m assuming when you say your arrow key is not working, you mean the computer is not receiving the inputs when you press it. If you mean the key physically won’t work then that’s a different issue I’ll be going over next.

If it is indeed an input issue then the problem may be a faulty driver. You can try giving your computer a restart and see if it fixes itself. However, if it doesn’t then you may need to uninstall keyboard driver.

Simply go to the start menu and type in “device manager”. Once in the menu find your keyboard and right-click to uninstall the driver.

Now, when you restart the computer, it should automatically start downloading the correct driver. If it doesn’t, you may need to go to the keyboard manufacturer’s website to find and install its driver.

If you need more help with this then you will need to call customer support. You should be able to find their phone number on the manufacturers’ website.

Key/Switch May be Jammed

A common problem with older keyboards is the keys tend to jam. If it’s a mechanical keyboard the physical switch may also stick. There are many reasons for this.

One reason this happens is the failure to maintain your keyboard. it’s important to clean your computer keyboard on a regular basis. If you don’t, dust, dirt, and grime starts to build up. This causes keys to jam and switches to stick.

With a keycap puller, you should be able to remove the keycaps to take a look inside. If it looks pretty gross inside you should take the time to clean it. Just a cleaning solution, j cloth, and Q-Tip are all you really need. You could try compressed air but some advice against it as you may push the dirt deeper inside.

I have a full guide on how to clean a gaming keyboard, which should work for most keyboards. Check it out if you are interested.

Is the Cursor Disabled?

You may not be aware of this but there is a feature on most keyboards to disable the cursor. If this is activated then using your arrow keys for certain functions may not work. There are a couple of ways to activate this feature.

How to get the cursor back on your computer

The first way is a dedicated button specific to this task. If your keyboard comes with this it should look like a touchpad with a line through it. Press this button and your cursor should be back to normal.

The other way is through the function keys. This is the top layer of keys on a standard keyboard. You will need to press FN with the appropriate F key. Usually, this is F5 but may be different for other keyboards. If pressing FN and F5 doesn’t bring back the cursor, then try pressing FN and F1, F2, F3, etc until it works.

Is Num Lock Activated?

Another issue that may be causing your arrow keys to stop working is if your Num Lk key is activated. It’s easy to check this if the light in the top right of your keyboard is on.

In a previous article titled: typing symbols instead of numbers: Easy Fix!, I explained how this button is very rarely used and could be accidentally pressed.

This will cause some unexpected problems while trying to use the keyboard that can easily be fixed by pressing the button again.

Is Scroll Lock Activated?

Similar to the previous tip, there is also a scroll lock button. It is often labeled as “ScrlLk” and is also rarely used and easy to accidentally press. This could possibly prevent your arrow keys from doing certain functions.

Again, this is easily correctable by simply pressing the scroll lock key a second time. The light on the top right of the keyboard should turn off when you do so letting you know that it’s been deactivated.

Get a new keyboard

If all else fails, the final solution is to simply get another keyboard. there are plenty of inexpensive membrane keyboards on the market. However, if money is not an issue you may want to try out a mechanical keyboard.

There are many benefits that come with using a higher quality keyboard. They feel great to type on, offer plenty of customization, and perhaps most importantly mechanical keyboards last a long time.

Check out my Guides and Reviews section for more tips on choosing a keyboard!


As you can see there are a few things that may cause arrow keys to stop working. I’ve gone over a few solutions that should hopefully solve the problem. if for some reason you’re unsuccessful at repairing your keyboard then it may be a good indicator that it’s time to replace it.

If this is the case, it’s a good thing they are pretty cheap nowadays. But if you’re looking to invest a little bit of money on something really nice that you love, I have plenty of information on keyboards as well as many guides and reviews for you to check out.

Hope this short little guide helps, good luck with your keyboard!

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