Linux Gnome Numeric Keypad Disabled [ Mouse keys ]

Posted on in Categories , , , , , , , last updated December 28, 2008

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 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

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

31 comment

  1. 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!!!

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. (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

  9. 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.

  10. [email protected] says:


  11. 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…

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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!!!!!!

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

  16. 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.

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