Some keyboards are designed in such a way that you type letters at one point, then numbers at another when you press the FN or ALT key, along with the button that has a letter and a number either on top or to the side. For reasons that some users may not be aware of, it might suddenly stop typing letters and only produce numbers. In this article, we will explain why this happens and provide steps to restore your keyboard to proper functioning. However, we first need to understand how the keyboard operates.
Most keyboards have a numeric side (numbers only) and an alphanumeric side (numbers, letters, and symbols). However, to minimize space usage, some companies create keyboards that only have the alphanumeric side. This is quite common in laptops that aim to minimize space for the sake of portability, as seen in mini-laptops and notebooks. Usually, the alphanumeric side is divided into function keys (F1-F12), followed by numeric keys (0-9), and then alphabetic keys (A-Z). There are also a few symbols keys, e.g., brackets, question marks, plus symbols. Cursor keys change the cursor position – these include the arrow keys, the backspace key, insert, home, end, page up, page down, delete, and the tab key are standard. We also have special keys like shift, control, alt, the caps lock, scroll lock, fn, and num lock. The special keys activate extra features of the other keys.
Reason for the Keyboard typing numbers instead of letters
There are other types of keyboards that have merged numeric keys and numbers together to minimize space and size. A prime example of this is the Lenovo Thinkpad keyboard. To type a number, you must hold down the Alt or the Fn key, otherwise, you will be typing letters only. When the keyboard begins typing numbers exclusively instead of letters, it’s likely that the num lock is on. This indicates to your computer that you have dedicated the keys, those with both letters and numbers on them, to typing numbers only. Issues arise when the user does not know how to switch off the num lock. The situation worsens if the num lock key is no longer functional. Alternatively, one might have activated the num lock while using an external keyboard, and the laptop keyboard might have a complex method of turning it off.
This is in fact a normal functioning of the keyboard. It is not a malfunction in any way.
Here are methods that are likely to fix your keyboard without a sweat. The end result that we are aiming for is to turn the num lock off, but it is advisable to also turn the scroll lock and caps lock off just in case they become an issue too.
Method 1: Turn off Num lock from your laptop keyboard
The fastest way to do this is to turn off num lock using your laptop keyboard.
Simply hit the num lock key and it will turn off. A light beside the key or on the top or sides of the laptop will go off to confirm this action.
On certain keyboards, you may need to hold down the ‘fn‘ key or the combination of ‘shift‘ key and ‘num lock‘ in order to turn off the num lock.
Method 2: Turn off Num lock using the windows on-screen keyboard
If the Num Lock key is not working and the above solution doesn’t resolve the issue, then we will need to bring up the on-screen keyboard and turn off Num Lock using this keyboard.
- Press the Windows or Start key + R to bring up the Run dialog box.
- Type ‘osk‘ in the textbox and hit ‘Enter‘.
- If num lock is on, it will be shown in a different color (white). Turn num lock off.
- If you don’t see the ‘Num Lock’ on the on-screen keyboard, click on ‘Options‘ and then check the ‘Turn on numeric keypad’ option. Click ‘OK‘. Now, ‘Num Lock’ should appear; turn it off.
Method 3: Turn off Num lock using an external keyboard
This can be used if your laptop keyboard is too complicated or the num lock key doesn’t work.
- Plug in an external keyboard.
- Wait for it to install.
- If num lock is activated on your keyboard, the external keyboard num lock light will be on.
- Hit num lock on the external keyboard to turn num lock off.
- The light on your num lock laptop key will also go off.
- Unplug the external keyboard.