What good is the Num Lock key?

By | January 7, 2014
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Carrie wants to know what the “NUM LOCK” key is for
One thing I’ve always wanted to know is what the key called “Num Lock” key is for. I press it and nothing happens. Can you tell me and other dummies like me what this key is useful for? Thanks, Carrie.

Our Answer
Hi Carrie, you’re not a dummy. The Num Lock is seldom used, in fact, most of us never use the Num Lock key. Some of us don’t even know where it is or even care where it is. But, can show you a couple little tricks using the Num Lock key that are really useful. So, in case you don’t know where the Num Lock key is, it’s at the top of the Numeric Keypad on your keyboard, usually on the far left. Take a look. See it? Good!

Did you know if you hold that key down for 5 seconds you can turn on Accessibility Options that will cause your computer to beep whenever you accidentally hit the Caps Lock key Scroll Lock key or the Num Lock key? Well it does, try it! Hold down the Num Lock key for five seconds (a light will come on indicating the Num Lock key is depressed – no it’s not depressed because your pressing on it – or maybe it is!) When the light goes out (in about 5 seconds) a dialog window will appear and tell you that you’ve turned your Accessibility Options and if you want to keep them on to click OK.

Also, toggling the Num Lock key on and off switches between using the number keys to type numbers like 789456123 and using the number keys as function keys. The function each key performs in function mode (Num Lock key toggled off) are shown on the keys themselves. For instance, pressing certain keys, like “7” for instance, will cause your cursor to jump to the beginning of a line of text. And “4” will backspace one space, and “8” will cause your cursor to move up one line. Other numerical keypads have different functions; look at the keypad to find out what each key’s function is when Num Lock is toggled off.


To all those who can’t find the NUM LOCK key — it’s only on computers with a numerical keypad. This means that most laptops will not have a NUM LOCK key. There are alternatives for laptops, but we were discussing keyboards with a keypad. Sorry we caused so much concern for those of you with laptops. Thanks, TC.



12 thoughts on “What good is the Num Lock key?

  1. Barbara

    Thank you for telling us all aout the numbers lock, can you now please tell us what we do tobe able to type a quater and half and threequarters etc?


    1. Judi

      Hold alt key +0188 to type 1/4
      Alt key + 0189 to get 1/2 and
      Alt key + 190 to get 3/4

  2. Janice M

    I’m sure glad Carrie asked this question! Now I also learned something new. TC & EB you’re the greatest!

  3. Jim

    Thanks for that information. Many a time I have cursed and sworn because I have accidentally hit the confounded CapsLock and when I look up at the screen everything is in upper case and I have had to type it again or use the Aa key.

  4. Ken D.

    Many thanks for the information. I’ve wondered many times, just what does that Numbers lock key do? Now I am very much wiser.

  5. Jean

    I have Win 7 on my laptop and can’t find the Num Lock key? Is it hidden somewhere?

  6. Harold

    Thank you for all your good info but can you post a picture of the numb lock .

  7. Deanna Baugh

    The Num lock key is on your key broad! It is located at the top left of your number pad at the right!
    As was specified in the article! Read people, read!

  8. Deanna Baugh

    Should clarify, the numbers pad is on the right of your keyboard.

  9. Ramona Perry

    Deanna Baugh you were a bit rude in your remarks re: the num lock on keyboards that com with windows 7 all do not show a num lock key per say, what does appear as you described is top left and then to the right is Clear / * – of course my system is a Dell. I read everything even the fine print on everything..please, if you must say or write anything, please do not be so rude to others.
    Have a great day.

  10. mary billman

    alt plus 155 = ¢
    alt plus 3 = ♥
    alt plus 13 = ♪
    alt plus 14 = ♫
    alt plus 1 = ☺


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