Excel Arrow Keys Not Moving Cells? Learn About Scroll Lock

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Written By Chris

Just a simple "data guy". Changing the world one formula at a time.

Have you ever been working in Excel and found that your arrow keys aren’t moving between cells like they normally do? This can be frustrating, especially if you rely on these keys for quick navigation, and instead of cruising through your work, you’re panicked fingers are searching for answers across the internet. The most common cause is that Scroll Lock is enabled, which makes the arrow keys scroll the entire worksheet instead of moving from cell to cell. Fortunately, this issue is usually easy to fix.

What Is Scroll Lock in Excel?

Scroll Lock is a feature of your keyboard that, when activated, changes how arrow keys behave. In Excel, instead of moving from one cell to another, the whole spreadsheet moves up, down, left, or right. The Scroll Lock key is often labeled as ScrLk or Scroll.

In Microsoft Excel, you won’t always see an indicator for Scroll Lock. This is especially true for some versions like Excel for Mac, where the status isn’t shown. But you’ll know it’s on if the worksheet moves when you press arrow keys but the active cell doesn’t change.

How Do I Know If Scroll Lock is Enabled and How Do I Turn it Off?

Besides the visual cues of your arrow keys behaving oddly, there are other ways to determine if Scroll Lock is the issue at hand. For Windows, adding Scroll Lock to the status bar in Excel helps. Right-click the status bar at the bottom of the Excel window and select “Scroll Lock” from the list. This will show a Scroll Lock indicator in the status bar when it is enabled.

If this option is already selected, you will see ‘Scroll Lock’ listed on your status bar already.

scroll lock indicator

A visible light on the keyboard is another common indicator. If your keyboard has a dedicated Scroll Lock key, it often has a small light that turns on or off when you press the key.

scroll lock light on keyboard

Using the on-screen keyboard is another method. Open the on-screen keyboard through Ease of Access settings by pressing Windows key + Ctrl + O. If Scroll Lock is on, the “ScrLk” key on this virtual keyboard will be highlighted. Clicking this key will toggle the status.

On a Mac keyboard, the F14 key acts as a Scroll Lock key. Simply press SHIFT or Fn and the F14 key to turn off Scroll Lock. Without knowing these shortcuts, you might struggle with navigation, slowing down your work in Excel.

When Arrow Keys Are Not Working in Excel

If the arrow keys still don’t move cells after turning off Scroll Lock, there may be other reasons for this issue. First, ensure you are not in formula entry mode — indicated by a blinking cursor inside a cell. Press Enter or Esc to exit this mode.

Other potential issues could include Add-ins in Excel. Go to the File tab, select Options, then Add-ins. Choose COM Add-ins and click Go. Disable all checkboxes and click OK. Close and reopen your workbook to see if the arrow keys work now.

For laptops, check if the Fn key modifies the arrow keys. Some laptops have function keys that change the behavior of the arrow keys when combined with Fn. Ensure Fn isn’t altering their function unintentionally. This check can save you a lot of troubleshooting time.

Use these tips to get your arrow keys back to navigating cells smoothly in Excel!

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