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Linux Gnome Numeric Keypad Disabled [ Mouse keys ]

Q. I'm using Gnome under Ubuntu Linux and my numeric keypad is disabled. Pressing numlock key does not work any more. I'm not able to use numbers or special symbols from numeric keypad. Reboot does not help or using different keyboard does not help. However, numlock only works if I switch to text console by pressing CTRL+ALT+F1. Now, I'm dam sure this is related to X.org or Gnome. How do I fix this problem?

A. This can be easily fixed using Keyboard preference tool. It can modify the autorepeat preferences for your keyboard, and to configure typing break settings. This works as in MS Windows. With this option selected, using Shift with keys on the numerical pad when NumLock is off extends the current selection. With this option unselected, use Shift with keys on the numerical pad to obtain the reverse of the current behaviour for that key. For example, when NumLock is off, the 8 key acts as an up-arrow. Press Shift+8 to type an '8'. Basically, Shift+Numlock can turn on or off mouse keypad. To get rid of this problem simply press Shift+Numlock again.

You can also enable or disable this feature by visiting System > Preferences > Keyboard > Mouse key tab:

Gnome: Keyboard preference tool to control mouse key

Gnome: Keyboard preference tool to control mouse key

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{ 31 comments… add one }

  • Georgi January 20, 2009, 10:46 am

    That was so helpful:) I couldn’t figure out how I made my numpad keys control my mouse and how to make them type numbers again, till I read that article. The answer is Shift+NumLock. Thanks a lot!!!

  • Dennis Hogan May 2, 2009, 12:58 am

    Just a heads up; a bug with remote desktop — e.g. how Vino serves your X to tightVNC — can randomly turn on the mouse keys function. Again, Shift+NumLock will remedy the situation.

  • bilbo Baggins June 3, 2009, 12:50 am

    BEST POST EVER YOUR A GOD AMONG MORTALS!!! I was about to strangle a moose if I couldn’t get this sorted out “had to do an expense report really wanted my number pad back.” THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I thought my vm had buggered me up. THANKS AGAIN!!! post this in ubuntu forums as a tut too would ya?

  • Åsmund July 1, 2009, 8:47 am

    Is there a way to disable the Shift-NumLock shortcut? This feature is annoying. In WinXP I can disable the keyboard shortcuts for a11y features.

  • Connor July 19, 2009, 1:13 am

    Thank you so much! Whoever created a shortcut to enable this “feature” should pay for all of our wasted hours.

  • Ben November 11, 2009, 4:16 am

    Thanks a lot for this post. I had turned it on by accident a few days before this post and just googled “keypad as a mouse pad in Linux” and this was the first one. I’m glad I chose this one first. Thanks again!

  • Louis November 12, 2009, 8:31 pm

    Thank you so much for that post!

    Disabling that shortcut would be most useful indeed.

    Shift-NumLock is a pretty unlikely combination, but the last few days have proved that I accidentally press it quite often.

  • Lucas March 29, 2010, 5:11 pm

    Thanks, I press [Shift]+[Num Lock] by accident and lived without a numeric keypad for about a week before I googled the problem and found your post. Thanks for making the solution so easy to find.

  • Greg May 27, 2010, 1:13 pm

    I owe you many beers for this. *phew*

  • Renny June 28, 2010, 9:32 am

    (Linux Mint) Thanks a lot problem solved with number pad. 1st problem was number lock would not stay on. So I googled the problem. And installed the “numlockx” from the Synaptic package. 2nd problem still could not type numbers still found out my my keypad was checked and was only using my pad as a pointer. Unchecked it number pad working.

    SO HAPPY, SO HAPPY, THANK YOU 123456789 987654321

  • zsenya July 1, 2010, 4:42 pm

    Thank you so much, u made me so happy

  • Victor Lewis August 13, 2010, 9:10 pm

    Thanks for the fix, that was annoying.

  • Dodjie60 September 22, 2010, 9:54 pm

    Thanks for this solution, been struggling for a week to sort this problem.

  • samutopia November 3, 2010, 11:34 am

    Very helpful. The first comment was probably easier to follow than the answer itself..

  • Ronald November 30, 2010, 4:26 pm

    Awesome, thanks!

  • Ahmed January 7, 2011, 12:23 pm

    I’ve been struggling with this for a YEAR!!!! And I just ignored it… but finally got so exasperated and did a 2 second search and found such a simple solution here… THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can finally use “Home”, “End”, and so on from the number pad.

    Wow. Thank you.

  • doros February 28, 2011, 2:16 pm

    I wasted half a day trying to workaround this stupid ‘feature’. Thank you!

  • S@MY-H4CK3R March 2, 2011, 9:48 pm


  • Jonathan April 6, 2011, 7:16 pm

    Is there a bug reported for this “feature” – its really an monsteruserunfriendly feature, and should be regarded as a bug! Wasted an hour on this…

  • Eric August 24, 2011, 11:37 pm

    hey!, thanks for the help

  • mts September 15, 2011, 4:38 am

    I am using PinguyOS 11.04, and the shortcut Shift + NumLock doesn’t work.
    I have used Pinguy OS 10.04, it worked that time.
    How can I fix it?

  • mts September 15, 2011, 5:30 am
  • Jaims November 25, 2011, 8:25 pm

    Thanks a lot, this article saved my life :-)
    000111222333 :-D

    Many many thanks

  • Mario December 5, 2011, 7:48 pm

    I am the next one to THANK YOU! Three years later but as happy as all the others.

  • überRegenbogen December 25, 2011, 1:08 am

    Unfortunately, on my ThinkPads, NumLock is toggled with shift-ScrollLock—and the shift gets through. So i can’t toggle NumLock without toggling Mouse Keys. I can go to keyboard prefs and toggle Mouse Keys, so it is off when NumLock is on; but that’s an annoying hoop to jump through every session that i use NumLock. So, i want to change or disable the hotkey for Mouse Keys—or disable Mouse Keys altogether, as i never need it.

  • Tonyc February 14, 2012, 2:10 pm

    We are stuck with linux workstations at work. Thanks for this. :)

  • adf March 24, 2012, 6:23 am

    Thanks!!! a ton.

  • Jenny October 16, 2012, 8:42 am

    As so many people above, I also thank you so much for this! I was wondering why my number pad just wasn’t working. Not a huge issue but it was sure irritating me. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

  • sena November 18, 2013, 4:06 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was suffering from this for two weeks and didn’t bothered to debug and was avoiding numkeys. Thanks again.

  • Marco November 23, 2013, 8:02 am

    I am afraid I am the only one for which this does not work… :( I do have mouse keys disabled in preferences, but the point is, even if I enable it, they DO NOT MOVE the mouse pointer!!!
    They simply only work as arrows, and pressing numlock or shift-numlock does nothing.
    This is on GNOME. When I am on the console (eg via putty for example) every works as expected, numlock toggles numeric keypad between arrows and typing numbers.
    To top it off, it’s only NUMBER keys that do not work. Operation keys, small return, dot key work just right.

  • Edwin Toms February 11, 2015, 9:40 am

    Thanx for the sugestion. I search for a solution, last two days.

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