How to Unlock a Number Lock on a Mac Keyboard


Macs do not feature dedicated number lock keys like traditional keyboards do, but provide similar functionality via their numeric keypad.

Simply, this conversion converts number keys into arrow keys. But how exactly does it work? We will find out! It may surprise you, so stay tuned as this article covers everything about how to use Num Lock On A Mac Keyboard.

How to Turn It On

Many desktop and laptop computers feature an additional row of number keys known as the numeric keypad above their main keyboards; laptops often also contain them. These numbers keys are commonly used for calculations and navigation; most Windows keyboards feature a key in the top-left corner to enable or disable its numbers function; when this Num Lock button is active you can use these number pad buttons normally, while pressing them when its function has been deactivated will reactivate other functions like the arrow keys.

Mac computers don’t feature an assigned Num Lock key and there’s no direct way of activating this feature from their keyboards, limiting users. Luckily, F1-F14 keys on most Mac keyboards perform different functions; thus the same approach that works on PC extended keyboards may also apply here; in particular, F14 (FN + F14 on some models) toggles Num Lock on and off.

Problematic with this solution is its temporary nature: If you forget to switch Num Lock off, your arrow keys may stop functioning correctly and will need resetting for this issue to be rectified. To address it properly, reset keyboard settings.

Pressing the clear key or going into System Preferences > User Accessibility and selecting Mouse Keys can return your numpad number keys to their original functionality.

If the issue persists, try resetting your keypad’s configuration in the Control Panel. To do so, navigate to Apple Keyboard > Advanced tab and then Reset Keyboard button – these should provide enough options to reset its configuration.

One reason your arrow keys might not work properly could be Mouse Keys being enabled on an external Mac keyboard with numeric keypad or MacBook; Mouse Keys allows users to move their mouse cursor using number keys on your keypad instead of their hands to control their mouse cursor, intended as an accessibility option for people who may find using their hands more challenging than expected. It’s best practice to disable Mouse Keys so your arrow keys will work as intended.

How to Turn It Off

Many keyboards feature a key that allows users to temporarily mute input from the number keys, providing additional focus when working on something requiring great concentration and no accidental keystrokes should disturb your work. This key is commonly known as Num Lock or Scroll Lock depending on computer model.

Most keyboards feature a key for turning off Num Lock; however, laptops do not. If this is the case with you, use Windows’ On-Screen Keyboard feature to turn off the number pad instead. To open it either click Start or press Windows Key. In the window that appears click Options key. In this new window click Show Num Lock so you can toggle the feature before closing it again.

In general, the key for disabling Num Lock can be found on a separate keypad located to the right of letter keys. It usually features a blue label to identify it as such; if multiple functions exist on any particular key, its alternate function might be marked differently to avoid confusion.

Some keyboards feature an LED indicator to show when the Num Lock feature has been enabled, often either above or below the number pad. Most standard keyboards also include a key that toggles the function between numbers and arrows for convenient switching between tasks. Some computer systems automatically activate this feature upon startup which could prove annoying should you forget to switch it off prior to beginning work.

Macs don’t feature dedicated Num Keylock and scroll lock keys; however, they do come equipped with an accessibility feature which can temporarily lock the number pad to control mouse pointer movement using keypad. If you are having problems with your number pad on Mac OS, try activating this feature in System Preferences > Universal Access in order to secure its use.

How to Reset It

Mac computers differ from their Windows counterparts in that they do not include a predefined key combination to lock or unlock keyboard input, instead offering users several third-party applications they can use to this purpose. This provides more flexibility, customization and integration between keyboard functionality and computer features – some third-party apps even feature password protection options that let them restrict access to certain commands.

Although Mac wired keyboards and most third-party USB keyboards do not feature dedicated Num Lock keys, many computers can activate an equivalent mode using the F6 key – this feature, known as Mouse Keys, converts number pad numbers to act as arrow keys for mouse cursor movement and should be enabled if users find it easier to move their cursor using direction indicators on number pad numbers as an accessibility option.

However, this may not always be the case on your specific computer. Apple’s accessibility options may alter how your computer behaves; therefore it’s advisable to visit System Preferences and open up its ‘Accessibility’ side menu before checking whether ‘Mouse Keys’ has been enabled; if it has, simply unchecking its box to switch it back off and return your number pad to normal functionality.

If neither of the suggestions listed above resolve your keyboard’s problem, it could be accidentally configured to use another type of software. This is a fairly common occurrence on older keyboards and can usually be resolved by resetting its software; however, this may lead to other software being affected and even rebooting itself, creating further disruption in workflow. Therefore, having a backup plan such as manually resetting the keyboard in case a disaster arises is wise; this simple process should cause minimal interruption for you workflow and should also regularly test all hardware.

How to Unlock It

If your keyboard gets locked accidentally, unlocking it may seem daunting at first. But there are various methods available on Macs to unlock it easily; some involve pressing a combination of keys while others may require special software applications – but no matter the method chosen, it should be fairly simple and take no time at all to complete.

First step to unlocking your keyboard is identifying its activating key – usually an “Fn” or “Function” button that should be located above number 6 and 7. When you find this button, press it together with another key until a padlock icon appears in your menu bar indicating your keyboard has been unlocked.

You may also be able to unlock your keyboard by clicking on the padlock icon in the menu bar and entering a password when prompted – an effective way of keeping others from typing on your computer.

Your keyboard might come equipped with specific ways of unlocking it; some laptop keyboards feature a dedicated key that allows users to disable numeric keypad input; however, others might feature a switch that toggles either way between allowing or disallowing input from keypad.

On the other hand, some desktop keyboards do not feature an on-screen keyboard with its own dedicated lock key, yet you can still use the On-Screen Keyboard app in search to unlock it – either through searching or opening from Applications folder.

Some computers from Lenovo come equipped with an inbuilt switch that enables users to lock the keyboard. If this feature doesn’t exist on your system, an alternative solution can be Karabiner Elements which uses key combinations to lock and unlock it.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.