Thank you for being a valued part of the CNET community. As of December 1, 2020, the forums are in read-only format. In early 2021, CNET Forums will no longer be available. We are grateful for the participation and advice you have provided to one another over the years.


CNET Support

Resolved Question

Arrow keys on Dell laptop sometimes not working.

Jun 9, 2014 7:30AM PDT

I see a lot of questions regarding arrow keys on both laptops and desktops. My problem is on a laptop, and only happens when the arrow keys alone are pressed. When I use the arrow keys in conjunction with the Shift or Control keys, they work fine. So... I can press Shift+Arrow and I can highlight text, like it should do. Or I can press Control+Arrow key and jump around a document, like it should do. But when used alone, the arrow keys do not work, to move the cursor in any direction, up, down, or left or right.

I've tried pressing the f7 as some have suggested in other posts, and this does not work. My problem happens whether I'm in a browser, in MS Word, text document, or any program.

I do not have any games on my computer so it's unlikely that a game has changed the function of my keys. I don't use many programs outside of MS office and Firefox.

I haven't installed any programs lately that might have changed things. I thought about using the "restore" feature, and went back a couple of months. Still not working. This problem only started about a month ago. So not sure if going back further would help.

If I reboot, it works fine. If I go into the bios screen it works fine. I'm not sure what triggers the keys not working. If I reboot, and use the computer as normally as possible, I may notice the arrow keys not working anywhere from a few hours to a few days after rebooting. I try to keep track of what I'm using but nothing seems to trigger it.

I could be using MS Word, typing away and moving the cursor around with no problems, then suddenly the arrow keys don't work. Or I could be using Firefox and I try to correct a typing error and notice my arrow key doesn't work. It seems to be randomly triggered.

I thought maybe a driver might need to be updated, but I'm not sure which driver would be involved.

Any suggestions??

I have windows 7, on a Dell Vostro 1520, with 4 GB of ram and 750MB HDD. . Other than this issue, everything is fine.

The workaround for me is to just press the control button when I want to jump the cursor around, and just use the mouse/touch pad when I want to be more specific. A fix would be ideal.

Thanks in advance for any help.


Discussion is locked

brismith has chosen the best answer to their question. View answer

Best Answer

- Collapse -
Don't panic.
Jun 9, 2014 9:00AM PDT
- Collapse -
Results of checks...
Jun 9, 2014 10:35AM PDT

I use NoScript for Firefox
I have the free version of Avast always running.
All windows security updates are installed.
(Last updated 6/6/2014)

As your link suggested...
Ad-Aware found no issues.
Rkill terminated one process ( and found no issues.
Malwarebytes found no threats.
SUPERAntiSpyware found no threats.

On the plus side of things, my computer appears to be clean as a whistle.
On the negative side, I still have this issue.

- Collapse -
Ad-Aware wasn't on that list.
Jun 9, 2014 10:44AM PDT

You could try the old boot to safe mode and head to device manager and remove all the keyboards there method. Remember we're assuming the hardware is fine. It usually isn't after a few years. To confuse folk, stuff like this will come back on a reboot.

- Collapse -
removing Keyboard from device manager
Jun 9, 2014 11:36AM PDT

I'm thinking the hardware is not the issue since the arrow keys do work, albeit only when the shift, control, or both are used with them. I'd think if if was a hardware issue, the arrow keys would not work regardless of what other keys are used at the same time. But who knows?

I checked the device manager. There are three device drivers listed under "keyboards". There are 2 "HID Keyboard Device", and 1 "Standard PS/2 Keyboard". Each driver has the same date (21/06/2006) and same version (6.1.7601.17514). I'm not sure why there are three. Can someone confirm if this is normal? Maybe at some point since I've owed this laptop I plugged in a usb keyboard? I don't recall.

I did a driver update search on each of the drivers and windows says they are all the most current.

I checked for any new windows updates and there were some. So I'm installing the new updates now. Once it finishes updating and rebooting, I'll reboot it manually and start in safe-mode and remove the device drivers. That is what you were talking about, right? And when you say this will come back on a reboot, you are meaning that the device driver(s) will be reloaded, correct? Assuming windows auto-detects the hardware and loads the correct drivers.

- Collapse -
Then I think it's time you call Dell.
Jun 9, 2014 12:03PM PDT

I know folk want a lot of assurances but it's a common thing I did to avoid reloading the OS, and more. It's an old tech procedure and it seems you need a lot more support. Make the call?

- Collapse -
Calling Dell is one option
Jun 9, 2014 12:37PM PDT

Calling Dell is one option. At least you didn't say "reinstall the operating system". I always worry about people that use that as a serious option right away.

I deleted all the keyboard drivers listed in Device Manager. Rebooted. All three drivers reinstalled automatically and the computer rebooted again.

As usual after a reboot, everything works as it should. I won't know for a few days if anything was "fixed". If after a few days I still have use of my arrow keys, then I guess deleting the drivers may have worked. I'll update in a few days, unless the problem comes back sooner.

If no one else has any suggestions I'll just call Dell and see what they have to say.

Thanks for your help so far Bob.

- Collapse -
Glad it got done.
Jun 9, 2014 3:28PM PDT

While I can't write it's a sure fire cure, it's one of those procedures we do to avoid a wipe and fresh install.

- Collapse -
So far so good
Jun 11, 2014 3:07AM PDT

Well Bob, things are still good. It's been two days now and I still have use of my arrow keys. The most it has gone is three day. So in a couple more days I'll feel more confident that the issue was resolved.

Simply reloading the keyboard drivers may have been the fix, and I hope so.

Thanks for your assistance. If I don't post again it means the problem is resolved.

- Collapse -
I guess you didn't run Windows 95 or 98.
Jun 11, 2014 4:39AM PDT

Windows 95 we'd reboot 2 or more times a day. Windows 98 we'd reboot after lunch.

- Collapse -
Didn't work.
Jun 13, 2014 12:45AM PDT

Well, I don't know how to un-chose a solution, but updating drivers didn't work. It took 4 days this time, but eventually the arrow keys stopped working again.

I guess I'll just call Dell and see what they say.

As for versions of windows used... I remember updating Windows 3.1 from 3.0 and using about 20 "floppy" disks. Windows 3.0 would crash about 10 times a day, easily.

- Collapse -
But does a reboot solve it?
Jun 13, 2014 12:51AM PDT

I may be wrong but it sounds like you don't reboot for days. We know that there are many bugs in drivers and this OS and some may take days for them to appear.

It's not anything new but today's owners have grown tired of such issues.

- Collapse -
Something else I just thought of trying
Jun 13, 2014 12:49AM PDT

I was just watching a movie using VLC, and it just dawned on me that I use the arrow keys to advance the frames forward and backwards a few seconds. You can use Alt or Shift plus the arrows to advance more frames. But using just the arrow keys jumps the frames by a few seconds. And they work with just the arrow keys.

So why is this the only program I know of where the arrow keys work by themselves?

I'm going to uninstall the VLC program and see if this changes anything. Again, I'll probably have to reboot and that will fix the problem as always, for a few days. So if I still have use of the arrow key after 3 or 4 days, then maybe this program was the problem.

This is a long way to troubleshoot!

- Collapse -
Something I bumped into, faster than a reboot.
Jun 13, 2014 12:57AM PDT

Log out and log back in.