What is the Num Lock Key?

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Have you ever heard of a Num Lock key? If you have, chances are you this is probably a key you use all the time because it offers practical functions which you likely find helpful. If not, perhaps you may have noticed it on your keyboard and wondered exactly what the purpose of this button is.

Where is the Num Lock Key?

These days not all keyboards have a Num Lock key since they have been redesigned to separate the functions, but there are still some keyboards out there that have one. If you are looking to find the Num Lock key, you can locate it by navigating to the upper right hand side of your keyboard. In that corner you’ll see the Num Lock key. This key is what’s known as a toggle button. A toggle button is a key that can be switched back and forth into different modes. This is practical because it allows a singular key to serve with dual functions of capabilities.

The Num Lock key can placed in either locked or unlocked mode by simply pressing the button. On most, if not all, keyboards you will see a green indicator light above the key illuminated when it is in the locked position. This is an indication to show whether or not your Num Lock button is in the locked or unlocked position.

If you are going to want to access the functions, it will be important to understand the differences in locked and unlocked mode because this will directly impact whether or not you can perform the functions you want to do. Here’s how you tell the difference:

Uses in Locked Position

When the Num Lock key is in the locked position it enables the numbers on the key pad to function as a number pad. This can be a very useful function. When you put the Num Lock key in the locked position it allows a more efficient and faster way to type in numeric based passwords and/or other tasks that require typing in several numbers since it is designed to resemble a calculator.

Uses in Unlocked Mode

The Num Lock key also has an alternate function that allows for cursor control. Under the numbers “2”, “4”, “8”, and “6” you will notice four directional arrow keys. This function is enabled if you unlock the Num Lock key. It is handy in the unlocked mode because the arrow keys can perform many of the functions that the mouse does in some software applications. The cursor control mode is also where the “Home”, “End”, “Page Up” and “Page Down” are located; optional secondary “Delete” and “Insert” functions can be found there as well.

The Num Lock key in unlocked mode is a great time saver if you are working in long documents or it may be useful for movement in several kinds of computer games. To access this function all you need to do is unlock the Num Lock key. You can do this by simply pressing the key and you’ll see the green light will go off.

The Num Lock key is a nifty little feature that enhances the user experience. Once you are familiarized with it and understand the convenience and value it serves, it can be both useful and a great time-saver. 


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