Number Keypad Not Working on a Mac Keyboard? It’s a Simple Fix

Dec 1, 2014 - 38 Comments

Fix for Mac keyboard keypad not working

Many Mac users go with the full sized Apple wired keyboard rather than a wireless keyboard so that they can have a dedicated number keypad on their keyboard. Sometimes that numeric pad seems to randomly stop working though, and suddenly numbers don’t type at all, which can be frustrating to say the least. To further complicate the matter, the Apple Wired Keyboard does not include a traditional “Num Lock” key like you’d find on most PC keyboards, so it can be difficult for switchers to easily identify if that’s related to the issue or not. Fortunately, for almost every occurrence where the number keypad has stopped working with a Mac keyboard, the resolution is easy.

You’ll likely want to open a text editor app or be somewhere that you can enter numbers and text freely while you troubleshoot this issue, chances are that you’ll have it resolved momentarily but you’ll still want to double-check by typing on the number keyboard to insure things function as intended. It can also be helpful to summon the onscreen virtual keyboard on the Mac to make sure the key presses are registering as intended, though this is mostly for visual affirmation and not necessary for troubleshooting.

Where is the “Num Lock” Key on a Mac Keyboard?

There isn’t a dedicated Num Lock key on the Apple Wired Keyboards, and that applies to many of the third party USB keyboards built for Macs too. However, you can achieve the same function by hitting the CLEAR button on the numeric keyboard. You may need to hit Shift+CLEAR instead, depending on your individual keyboard and settings.

The Num Lock key on a Mac Keyboard

Try both of those separately, and then try to type numbers using the numeric keypad again, this should resolve the issue in most cases.

Numbers Still Not Typing? Check for Mouse Keys

If you tried Clear and Shift+Clear to no avail, you probably have a setting enabled in the accessibility options of OS X that is preventing the numeric keypad from acting exclusively as a means of typing numbers. This setting is called Mouse Keys, which allows a user to control the onscreen cursor using the number pad on an extended keyboard.

  1. Open  Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”, then go to “Accessibility”
  2. Select “Mouse & Trackpad” and look for an option called “Enable Mouse Keys” – uncheck this if it is checked to regain usage of the number pad

Uncheck Mouse Keys if the number pad is not working on keyboard

The most obvious indicator that Mouse Keys is the reason the numeric keypad is not working is that when you type a number, the mouse cursor moves very slightly, thus if you try to type a bunch of numbers the mouse cursor on screen may seem to jiggle around a bit in a small area. This is not always very obvious though because the Mouse Keys feature is intended to be precise and allow for fine manipulation of onscreen elements, thus you should always check for the setting when troubleshooting the matter.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

38 Comments

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  1. RJ (RON JAY) says:

    Funny, I experienced this exact problem very recently. I bet it’s common because the Clear (secret Num Lock) button doesn’t have a light to indicate whether it’s on or not. So you can only tell by mashing a bunch of things and figuring out if something starts working.

    • RJ (RON JAY) says:

      And speaking of keyboards, this reminds me of the other weird keyboard decision but in the iOS world – the weirdo Caps Lock and Shift key! Also totally unclear whether it’s on or off, nobody can tell you, the button resembles nothing, so you just touch it a bunch and start typing to see if it works.

      • Barbara Krueger says:

        On an iOS device when the shift key arrow is white and the key is grey you will be typing lower case alpha characters.

        Single tap on the shift key to have a single upper case letter. The arrow is black and the key white it is single letter Upper Case.

        Double-tap on the shift key for CAPS LOCK. The arrow will be black with an underscore and the key is white.

  2. Carolyn Brooks says:

    I just upgraded to IOS8 on my iPad and now my Lodgitech Bluetooth wireless keyboard no longer seems to work with the upgrae. Can anyone help me? Also, when I turn off the Bluetooth keyboard to type on the on-sreen keyboard, the iPad doesn’t seem to recognize my keystrokes. This is soooo frustrating so much so that I’m ready to downgrade back to IOS7. Please Help Me People!!! Thanks.

  3. Amigalander says:

    Hmm, I’ve never experienced the numpad not working on OS X. Are you talking about in Windows (Bootcamp)?

    I’ve used the clear button many times, it doesn’t seem to function as a numlock key. I tried shift-clear also and nothing happens. My numpad keys always work no matter what.

    I even tried fn-clear, fn-shift-clear, alt-clear, etc. Nothing happens.

    They work, see? 123456789!!! :)

  4. Macscottcu says:

    Carolyn, “Always call the one you paid!” Call Logitech. Check their site or support forum and see what TF is up? Updates?

  5. Squanto4318 says:

    Is there a keyboard combination in Mac OS that will DISABLE Mouse Keys? (other than going through System Preferences)

    (Seems there should be, since clicking Option 5 times enables that feature.)

  6. fahirsch says:

    My wife had several times this problem in Word ( only in Word). It always ocurred after opening files that came from a client’s Win Word. Everytime it happened I tried the Clear trick and it didn’t work. What did work was deleting the Word preference

  7. LaDeaux says:

    Thank you so much! Been using the stupid number keys over the top of the keyboard forever, but I love this Logitech keyboard I have. Now I can enjoy doing my bills at home again…kind of…they are bills after all.

  8. leah says:

    Thank you very much! It worked! :)

  9. Elena says:

    Yes!! The work computer I’m at had Mouse Keys turned on in Accessibility, all I had to do was get that turned off, but I never would have found it on my own. Thanks so much!

  10. Grahame says:

    I have an iMac and use an old ‘black key’ (Model M7803) Apple Pro keyboard.

    When it was set up, the number pad worked OK. When I set up a second logon, the number pad stopped working. I turned the Mouse Keys OFF as above and no change … what else can I try?

    I

    • Austin says:

      My new keyboard on my imac, the number keys stopped, I tried many , eventually I had other silly problems and shut down to reboot, on startup a suggestion came on the screen regards this and it said to press option key 5 times and it worked.

  11. Grahame says:

    All solutions offered pointed to the ‘clear’ key at the centre of the solution … I cleaned the keys and persisted with clear/shift …. HEY presto success.
    Thank you Apple community.
    Grahame

  12. Douglas says:

    Keyboard keypad works fine everywhere but the terminal app. Cannot get it to do anything but weird text (like mouse keys — but those are turned off). Very frustrating!

  13. James Nielsen says:

    Enable Mouse Keys – worked for me… thanks a lot. Your awesome!

  14. BB says:

    THANK YOU!!! Got my numeric pad back!

  15. Richard says:

    I tried all of the suggestions. The numeric keypad works for all applications except MS Excel, which is where I need it most. The problem started after I used CleanMyMac. I suspect that I deleted a file that was used by Excel. Any suggestions? I am using a Dell keypad and/or a Targus 9-key pad.

  16. Carla says:

    Thank you for this tip, it worked for me, i only had to work around it because i have MagicMouse2, so I went to Accessibility and when i checked off “enable mouse keys” IT WORKED! thanks again.

  17. Jay says:

    Bought a Targus wired numeric keypad(AKP10AP) to plug in to my MacBookPro on El Capitan. Some problem here.
    – press any number key, it deletes by itself as soon as I release it
    – need to hold any number key in order to insert more digits, as soon as I release the held key, then the very last entered digit deletes by itself
    Please help!

  18. James says:

    Okay, I don’t have a ‘clear’ button.

  19. Ruby Mitchell says:

    Thank you!

    • john says:

      hitting the option key 5 times brought the num pad back. weird fix and thanks.

      • David says:

        Please I need help with my Macbook Pro. My keyboard is working perfect except for the numeric no but 0 is working except for the other numbers

      • Cheryl says:

        I can’t believe that hitting the option key 5 times worked for me also…weird thats for sure but a huge thanks for your help…

  20. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for the odd tip of pressing alt (or option) 5 times. Why I do not know, but it unblocked my keyboard.

  21. Thomas Mitchell says:

    Thanks , Macs are good but are sometimes difficult .

  22. Aj says:

    This article is great, I enjoyed reading it and it taught me what I needed to know about finding the num lock and clear button on a Mac keyboard.

    “The clear button on a Mac keyboard functions like a num lock button ”

  23. Glade Roberts says:

    Not sure what caused my number keypad to stop working but when i went to the apple-system preferences-Accessibility-Mouse & Trackpad- and Unchecked “enable Mouse Keys……. IT WORKED. I now have my number keypad back working again. Thanks for the help here

  24. Hugues Talbot says:

    Thanks !

  25. Camille says:

    I have spent two days trying to figure out why the keypad wouldn’t work – on three different mac keyboards. And you helped me fix the problem (mouse settings). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  26. Peter says:

    Thank you. not only I was able to unlock the numberpad I was able to apply the same solution to fix another wireless keyboard. I was unable to use the right side of my wireless keyboard (7 8 9 u i o j k l m , .) by enable the mouse keys they started to work again.

  27. Peter MacProf says:

    Thank you so much. Having none of the number keys working has been driving me mad for weeks. Using the pad would sometimes freeze everything so I would have to re-launch the Finder. Making it really puzzling was the fact that it only affected my Admin account, not my or my wife’s personal accounts.
    Thankfully an expert in our club AUSOM sent me a link to your site. Now thanks to you, turning Mouse keys OFF has given me back my numeric keypad. Thank you very very much again.

  28. Nikolay Lavrov says:

    It not working.
    I have two keyboards. One is Apple big keyboard A1243 with crossed out rectangle in ‘clean’ key place. Second one is good mechanic ANSI keyboard with real numlock.
    Both of them are not working. Numbers are locked on numpad and cannot changes by ‘clean’, ‘numlock’, ‘shift-F6’ and other combinations.
    The worst thing is Karabiner not works on Sierra.

    I’m not accountant, and in that rare case when I need a numbers I can find them in the top line.

  29. Garrett Stack says:

    Thank you, Paul Horowitz. Simply out of nowhere the numeric pad stopped working. “Fix #3” did the trick. Settings in the Accessibility mouse area mysteriously got changed and “enable” was checked. I unchecked it and all is well. Gremlins live in our computers just to challenge us. Thank you again.

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