Cannot Log in – Enable/Disable Num Lock

1280071_keyboardHave you ever tried to log in to your PC but couldn’t get the password right, even after several attempts? This happened to me the other day, when I tried to log onto my laptop. I know that CAPS Lock was not on, because no warning message appeared.

I thought maybe I forgot my password or someone hacked into my PC or something was seriously wrong, but then I noticed that the Num Lock light was on. Instead of letters, I was typing numbers! This is harder to spot on laptops, as the same keys are used for letters and numbers. On regular keyboards you have your additional number keypad on the right side and you know when it’s on or off. Laptops have less space, and so everything is squeezed in the same small keypad.

So I found out what happened, but I didn’t know why. Num Lock is usually disabled by default, and it’s like this in most PCs, but suddenly it was enabled after startup. I wanted to change this.

To enable/disable Num Lock on Startup, you have to go into the registry and change the value of the “InitialKeyboardIndicators” entry (0, 1 or 2). To do this, click on Start, then on Run and type regedit in the text field. After you click on OK, the Registry Editor will open. Next, navigate to the following entry:

  • Control Panel
  • Keyboard

With the Keyboard folder highlighted on the left side, you should see several entries on the right side, in the main window. Open InitialKeyboardIndicators and see if the value is 0, 1 or 2.

  • If it is 0, then the Num Lock key is OFF on startup and you don’t have to worry.
  • If it is 2, then the key is ON, which means you are typing numbers, not letters
  • 1 means the key is totally disabled and it’s not in use.

Change the value to 0, which should be the default entry. This way you can use the Num Lock key, but only when you turn it on (Fn+Num Lk in laptops). Once you change the value, simply click on OK and close the registry editor. You are now ready to restart and test your new login.

Sometimes, however, this registry edit doesn’t work. After you restart the PC/laptop, the num lock key is still on! In this case, you’ll have to go into BIOS and change the settings there. To access BIOS, restart the system and press DEL or F2 to get to System Utilities (if it is not DEL or F2, you’ll be shown some options at startup). Once there, go to Advanced Options and one of the entries should say Boot up Num Lock. Highlight this entry and disable it with the + (plus sign) key. If you don’t see Boot up Num Lock, then find any similar entries. For example, in my old LG laptop, I had to disable the Internal Keypad for Num Lock to finally stop interfering.

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