How to fix: Keyboard types only numbers or nothing at all

How to fix: Keyboard types only numbers or nothing at all

You are typing on your laptop and suddenly some of the keys register as numbers and symbols instead of letters. What is going on here? The answer probably lies in your number padlock. Here’s why – and how to solve the keyboard problem.

What is Num Lock?

Num Lock, short for “number lock,” is a feature of PC keyboards that dates back to IBM’s very first PC in 1981. To save space on the keyboard, IBM decided to use the keys on the numeric keypad as both the number keys and the cursor keys. To switch between the two modes, IBM introduced the Num Lock key.

Here’s an example of a typical numeric keypad layout on a desktop keyboard.

numeric keypad

When Num Lock is on, the numeric keypad on a desktop PC works like a keyboard on an adding machine with numbers and symbols (such as *, /, and +) representing mathematical operations. When the Num Lock is disabled, the keyboard functions as a cursor key (such as up and down arrows) and some editing keys (such as “Home” and “Insert”).

What is the difference between a numeric key on a laptop?

Most laptops don’t have a dedicated number pad, so the number lock feature works differently on them. Instead of converting the cursor keys into numbers, some of the QWERTY letters on the keyboard are converted into a virtual pad of numbers.

Your laptop will probably look different, but many manufacturers use the option of having the keys on the right side of the keyboard serve as a Num Lock numeric keypad.

So if you accidentally press the “Num Lock” key on your laptop, you may run into a similar problem.

keyboard problem


In this case, you are typing numbers instead of letters because the Num Lock key is activated.

The keyboard does not type numbers

The main problem can be either system hardware or software-related. If the keyboard is integrated into the laptop, it will be difficult to isolate the problem. Either way, follow these troubleshooting suggestions by IR Cache:

  1. Activate the “Numbering” feature.
  2. Disable mouse keys
  3. Update the keyboard driver
  4. Perform hardware and device troubleshooting
  5. Try logging in as another user.

As you know, the number keys are in two places on the keyboard: one above the letters and one on the pad. Recently, some users have stated that they cannot enter numbers on their keyboards, while others have stated that their keyboards only enter numbers.

This problem can occur on both sets of numeric keys as well as on the numeric keypad. This is a rare situation that rarely happens to users. So, if you are one of the few who have the same problem, then you are in the right place because this post will show you what you can do to fix your keyboard problem.

The problem is most likely related to a disabled numeric keypad, outdated or corrupt keyboard drivers, enabled mouse buttons or may have something to do with the physical ports. Whatever the cause, here are a few options you can try to solve.

To disable the Num Lock feature

Disable the Num Lock on your laptop keyboard

The fastest way to disable Num Lock is to use your laptop keyboard.

Simply press the “Num Lock” key to turn it off. A light next to the key or on the top or sides of the laptop will illuminate to confirm this action.


Some keyboards require you to press and hold Fn or Shift + Num-Lock to disable the Num-Lock feature.

Disabling Num-Lock on the Windows on-screen keyboard

If the Num-Lock key does not work and the above solution is not enough, you need to go to the on-screen keyboard and deactivate the Num-Lock key using the on-screen keyboard.

  1. Press Window/Start + R to bring up the “Run” dialog box.
  2. Enter osk in the text box and press Enter.
  3. If the number lock is activated, it will be displayed in a different color (white). Disable the number lock.
  4. If the number lock is not displayed on the on-screen keyboard, press Options, and select Enable Number Lock. Press OK. Num Lock is now displayed; deactivate it.

Deactivating Num Lock with an external keyboard

You can use this function if your notebook keyboard is too complex or if the “Num Lock” key does not work.

  1. Connecting an external keyboard
  2. Wait until it is installed
  3. If your keyboard has the Num Lock feature enabled, the Num Lock indicator on the external keyboard will light up.
  4. Press the Num Lock button on the external keyboard to deactivate Num Lock.
  5. The Num Lock light on the Num Lock laptop key also turns off.
  6. Disconnect the external keyboard

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Restart your computer.
  2. Adjust the keyboard settings.
  3. Uninstall the keyboard driver.
  4. Update the keyboard driver.
  5. Try this if you are using a USB keyboard.
  6. Try this solution if you are using a wireless keyboard.

Try restarting your computer. It's not uncommon for a program or operating system to cause problems with your keyboard that cause some keys not to work. If your keyboard works in safe mode, the problem is probably caused by one of your installed programs or device drivers.

A delay in typing can be caused by many factors. The most common are memory problems, outdated keyboard drivers, and viruses called "keyloggers." Keyloggers are viruses that record your keystrokes, allowing third parties to steal passwords and other information.

  1. Unplug the keyboard.
  2. With the keyboard disconnected, press and hold the ESC key.
  3. Press the ESC key to reconnect the keyboard to your computer.
  4. Press and hold the ESC key until the keyboard flashes.
  5. Unplug the keyboard and plug it in again.