Making Sure Num Lock is On

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 21, 2015)

Bruce would like to make sure that the Num Lock key always defaults to ON when he starts or restarts his system. The solution with the best chance of success is to actually make a change in the BIOS for your system. This isn't something you do in Windows, but before Windows even starts.

When you start or restart your machine, there is a brief time at startup where you can press a function key (F2 on some systems, but may be something different on other systems) and you are presented with a way to change BIOS settings. The function key needs to be held down as the system is booting in order to get to the BIOS settings.

If F2 doesn't work on your system, watch the screen as booting takes place. You may see a screen flash by very quickly which tells you which function key to use to "enter setup" or some other similar wording. Use that function key when restarting.

Once in the BIOS setup, you'll need to do some poking around to find the setting for the Num Lock key. Just display the various setup screens until you find the appropriate setting. You should be able to change the setting to indicate that you always want Num Lock on when starting. Once the setting is changed, make sure you save the settings before exiting the setup program. Your system will then restart and go into Windows normally.

Some systems, unfortunately, don't offer a way to change BIOS settings. (It is typically very inexpensive consumer computers that don't offer this option.) In that case, you obviously need to find a different approach. In this case, you may be able to edit the Registry to force Windows to take action.

Just start the Registry Editor (as described elsewhere in WindowsTips) and look for the following element in the Registry:

HKEY_USERS\DEFAULT\Control Panel\Keyboard\InitialKeyboardIndicators

Note the value that is in the data value currently (in case you later want to change it back), and then change it to one of the following settings depending on how you want the keys to behave on startup:

Value Meaning
0 Turn all indicators Off (NumLock, CapsLock, ScrollLock)
1 Turn CapsLock On
2 Turn NumLock On
3 Turn CapsLock and NumLock On
4 Turn ScrollLock On
5 Turn CapsLock and ScrollLock On
6 Turn NumLock and ScrollLock On
7 Turn all indicators On (NumLock, CapsLock, ScrollLock)

Restart your system, and the setting should be in force.

Please note that you should be quite careful when changing BIOS settings or Windows Registry settings. Make sure that you change only what you need to, and that you understand exactly what you are changing. (If you mess up the BIOS settings or the Windows Registry, you may make your system unusable. Common sense, prudence, and double-checking everything should be your approach.)

 This tip (10015) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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