Keyboard Typing Symbols Instead of Numbers? Easy Fix!

Do you own a laptop or a personal computer? Then you must know how frustrating it is to suddenly discover that your keyboard isn’t typing what it is supposed to type.

Keyboard misprinting is a common issue with most laptops and there can be several reasons that are causing this. And so, there will be multiple ways of fixing these causes. Below I have listed some very easy tricks to fix your keyboard if it is typing symbols instead of numbers.

The Quick Answer

Here’s a quick rundown of the possible solutions. If you need more information, it will be available in this article.

  • Check that the shift key isn’t stuck
  • Check that the “NUM” light is off
  • Use the on-screen keyboard or an external keyboard to disable “Num LK”
  • Turn off sticky keys
  • Update keyboard drivers
  • Try pressing Alt+Spacebar together
  • Call the troubleshooter
  • Virus scan

In a hurry? If it turns out you need a new keyboard, there are so many options available at Amazon (affiliate link). If you are unsure of what you want, check out some of my guides and reviews!

Check the Shift Key

Typing hands, keyboard typing symbols instead of letters.

The Shift key is an important key on the keyboard. It performs a variety of tasks toggling between various functions. However, it can also be the reason your keyboard is misbehaving. A stuck Shift key could be causing the issue.

You can try repeatedly pressing the shift key and see if that loosens up whatever is holding it down, or you may need to get under the key and do some cleaning.

If the shift key is really stuck, you may need to use some tool to pry it up and consider replacing it.

Number Lockdown

Typing hands, keyboard typing symbols instead of letters.

Just like the Shift key, the NumLock key is an important toggle. It enables the number keys to assume multiple roles and perform multiple functions.

When the NumLock is in use, users cannot type numbers. Instead, an alternate character that is assigned on the number key will be typed.

When the Num Lock is disabled, it will allow the typing of numbers.

In case the number lock is the culprit, pressing the NumLock key once can solve the problem in a jiffy.

Solution if NumLock Won’t Turn Off

On-screen Keyboard

If the NumLock key is on but you cannot resolve this issue using your hardware keyboard, you can use the OSK (On-Screen Keyboard) provided by the Windows OS.

To open the on-screen keyboard, press and hold the Windows+R key and type “osk” in the Run dialog box.

If the NumLock has been accidentally left open, it will be highlighted in a different color. Using the on-screen keyboard, turn off the NumLock key. In case the NumLock is not visible on the OSK, click on the options key, and activate the NumLock for the keyboard. This should solve your problem.

If you need help enabling your on-screen keyboard, refer to the following video.

Use an External Keyboard

Typing hands, keyboard typing symbols instead of letters.

Yet another solution to solve the non-responsive NumLock button. If you tried disabling the NumLock from the keyboard and also tried turning the NumLock off from the on-screen keyboard and neither of those worked, don’t lose heart. We have a third way of turning the NumLock off. We can do this using an external keyboard. Don’t let this sound complicated to you. This method is very simple. You need an extra keyboard for this. You can borrow it from a friend or a colleague.

Plug the external keyboard into your laptop. Once it is plugged in, any drivers needed should automatically install. After that, check to see if the NumLock key is on, the same will be highlighted on the external keyboard. Press the NumLock key on the external keyboard to turn off the NumLock. This will disable the NumLock key on your laptop’s keyboard as well.

Problem solved! You can now safely unplug the external keyboard. Don’t forget to return it with a thank you!

Sticky Issue

Sticky keys are a great function for those unable to press and hold several keys at once. It allows a key to be pressed and retain its role in memory until the other combination keys are pressed. The task is complete only when all keys of the combination have been pressed.

Sticky keys can accidentally be enabled if the Shift key is pressed 5 consecutive times. Ensure that the sticky keys are not the problem. If sticky keys are enabled by mistake, press the Shift key 5 consecutive times. If this does not work, try pressing Ctrl+Alt+Shift key. You can press the shift key with this combination as many times as needed.

Update the Keyboard Drivers

The driving force behind processing the input from the keyboard and interpreting the commands from the operating system is the keyboard drivers.

If the drivers are outdated or have developed a glitch, it will render the keyboard unstable and can trigger flawed data to be sent by the keyboard. In that case, you can try reinstalling your keyboard drivers. To do so follow these steps:

  • Press Win+R in the start box to bring up the Device Manager.
  • Locate your keyboard drivers.
  • Right-click on it, and select to uninstall it.
  • After uninstalling the drivers, restart the computer.

This will automatically reinstall the keyboard drivers and hopefully fix the issue.

If you need a visual reference updating device drivers, refer to the following video.

Alt + Space

The ubiquitous spacebar that helps identify words and meaning in a text through its potential presence can come in handy to rescue you from the faulty keyboard issue. You can use the spacebar with the Alt key to resolve the issue. To do so, press and hold the Alt key and spacebar together. This will stop the characters from appearing.

Call the Troubleshooter

Instead of trying to figure out and fix the problem by yourself, you can leave the troubleshooting to the Windows troubleshooter. Windows provides an option to conduct keyboard troubleshooting using its built-in keyboard troubleshooter.

To run the keyboard troubleshooter, type troubleshoot in the search box and choose to troubleshoot and then select keyboard. Start executing the troubleshooter and follow the instructions that appear on the screen.

Virus Scan

Viruses have been developed to attack and hack every single aspect of a computer, including software and hardware. And keyboards are no different. Viruses designed to infect keyboards for keystroke logging and other malicious activities can cause your keyboard to perform in an unstable manner. The issue may be more severe than just the mistyping. In such circumstances, it is advisable to conduct a full threat scan of your computer to eliminate the risk of a virus or malware attack.

This is the last resort and is most likely not the issue. As long as you have virus protection, and use the internet wisely you should be safe. Try the other methods first.


I truly hope one of these solutions can be the answer to your problems. I think the main solution that may be the answer for most people is that your “NumLock” key is on.

I’ve actually made that mistake before and didn’t even realize. Many people press these buttons on accident, and they are very rarely used, so when you happen to press it, you don’t even know.

The same could be said about the “insert” button as well. When INS is pressed, if you go to edit a word it will delete letters as you go, rather than simply add them. However, that is a topic for another day!

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