Can’t Type in Excel? Here are ALL Fixes (2024)

This article talks about situations when you are working on an Excel spreadsheet. And as soon as you start typing in any cell – Excel doesn’t let you type in.

Duhh 😣

There are several reasons why you might face such a situation.

In the tutorial below, we are going to troubleshoot the ‘can’t type in Excel’ problem. We will look into each possible reason why this might happen along with the fix to it.

So let’s not waste any more time and dive straight in.

Cause # 1: Editing Not Enabled

As soon as you launch an Excel file, you’ll see a yellow pop-up on the top of your sheet.

Enable editing pop up

This pop-up asks if you want to enable editing in the subject Excel file. This usually happens when you open an Excel file from an unknown source.

With this yellow pop-up on your Excel sheet, you won’t be able to type in the spreadsheet. You can only scroll across the sheet and view it 🧐


Click on the Enable Editing button from the yellow pop-up. The file would go into Editing mode, and you can easily go typing in it.

Cause # 2: Data Validation Rules Applied

Data Validation rules are used to restrict the input to any cell 😎

If you are creating a survey form in Excel to seek the input of many users, you can restrict the input values users can enter in it using the Data Validation tool.

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

For example, you might want users to enter their height in this sheet.

Height of people

And they can choose from the values specified by you only.

For example, in the column of heights, we have applied the following data validation rules:

Data validation rules for an Excel cell

With these rules, a user can only enter a whole number between 0-100 in these cells. If you attempt to type any other value in it, Excel won’t let you do that.

Instead, you will be presented with the following error 🚩

Data validation error


There are two ways how you can fix this:

  • Follow the data validation restrictions. As for the case above, only enter whole numbers between 1 to 100 and no other value. Excel won’t stop you from typing.
  • Remove the data validations restrictions by following these steps:
    1. Select the relevant cells (where data validation restrictions are applied).
    2. Go to the Data tab > Data tools > Data Validation.
Data validation
    1. This will launch the Data Validation box as under.
Data validation/ format cells dialog box
    1. Click on Clear All.
    2. Click Okay.

And the data validation rules will be removed.

You can now type in any value in those cells, and Excel won’t throw any errors your way ✌

No more errors

Cause # 3: Cells are locked/protected

If you try to write on a protected sheet, Excel will not let you do so, and you’d get the following error:

Protected workbook error in Microsoft Office files

This is another reason why you might not be able to type in an Excel sheet.

To check if the sheet is protected, go to the Review tab > Protect. See if the Protect Workbook button is enabled or if there is any Unprotect Sheet button.

Protect sheet/workbook

If any of them is enabled, your worksheet (or the whole workbook) is locked for editing.


Click on the enabled button (Protect Workbook) from the Review tab. Or if the worksheet is locked, click on the button Unprotect Sheet from the Review tab.

Clicking on these buttons will unprotect the sheet/workbook, and you’d be able to type in any cell.

If the sheet/book is locked with a password, you’d need to enter it to unprotect the sheet/workbook 🔑

Cause # 4: Num Lock

If you’re trying to type numbers in your Excel sheet using the numeric keypad on the right side of your keyboard – wait let me show you the keypad I am talking about 👀

Numeric keypad

So, if you’re using it to type numbers in your spreadsheet and you can’t type in any, you’ve got the Num Lock on.

Such keyboards have a key by the name NumLock.

Num Lock

This is a toggle key. You press it, and the NumLock is turned on (maybe your keyboard has a small LED to show that).

You press it again, and it is disabled. With the NumLock on, the numeric keypad is locked. So, you can’t use it to type numbers 🔢


The solution to this is the easiest. Disable the Num Lock by pressing the NumLock key on your keyboard.

Try typing numbers now, and everything should work fine.

Cause # 5: Problematic Add-Ins

Quite common, when you install new add-ins to Excel, they might cause your spreadsheet program to behave weirdly 😵 Sometimes, a recently installed software might also cause this.

To check if it is an add-in that’s keeping you from typing in Excel, launch a new Excel in safe mode. Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Close the current Excel book.
  2. Hit the Window Key + R to launch the Run box as follows.
Select file block settings
  1. Against the box Open, type ‘Excel/safe’.
Run Excel safe
  1. That’s it – Click Okay.

A new Excel window will be launched under safe mode. Try typing to see if you’re able to type in now.


Until now, we are only troubleshooting to see if add-ins are the actual problem.

If you’re able to type in Excel safe mode, this means the add-ins caused the problem and vice versa. Once you know those were the add-ins, the next step is to identify which add-ins exactly 🎯

For that:

  1. Open Excel.
  2. Go to the File tab > Options > Add-ins.
Select Add-ins in Microsoft Excel
  1. At the bottom, against the box Manage, choose COM Add-ins.
COM Add-ins
  1. Press Go.

You’d see a list of all the installed add-ins now.

Troubleshooting Excel add ins
  1. Check the box for anyone add-in and uncheck all the rest.
  2. Press Okay.
  3. Restart Excel.

This time Excel will only run the selected add-in 🚴‍♂️

Try typing in now – if you can type in easily, then this was not the problematic add-in.

Enable another add-in and disable all the others, and again perform steps 4 – 6. Continue doing this until you’ve found the add-in that causes typing problems in Excel.

Once found, disable it, and you’re good to go 💪

Cause # 6: Editing Options

Here, we have a formula applied to Cell C3. A simple 2+2.

Formula 2+2

Normally, if you select this cell and press the F2 key, the cell will show the formula and not the result.

Pressing the F2 key

You can then directly edit the formula in the cell. For example, you can make it 2+3 inside the cell instead of 2+2.

However, if you press the F2 key (or double-click the cell) and the cell doesn’t allow you to edit the formula inside (or type inside), your editing settings are not sorted 🔎


To fix this:

  1. Go to the File tab > Options.
  2. Under the Excel Options dialog box, go to Advanced.
  1. Under the Editing options, make sure the box for ‘Allow editing directly in cells’ is checked.
Allow editing directly in cells

Now try writing in the cell again, and you’d no longer face any disruption 💡

In Excel-language, 1 means TRUE. 0 means FALSE.

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

That’s it – Now what?

Diagnosing the problems listed above and then trying the relevant fix for each of them will most probably help you get rid of the ‘can’t type’ problem in Excel.

Excel is one of the most robust and versatile spreadsheet software out there. And that is why you’d hardly get to know if somewhere, some setting is out of order that is disrupting your Excel jobs.

With that said, you need to learn all about the tools, features, and functions of Excel to master it 🙈

Do not know where to begin? Start with some of the core Excel functions like the VLOOKUP, SUMIF, and IF functions.

Click here and enroll in my 30-minute free email course to learn these (and many more) functions of Excel.

Other resources

In addition to not being able to type, you might face a variety of other problems when working with Excel.

Like your cells showing the formula (and not the result). Or you not being able to scroll across cells using the arrow keys. Learn the reason and fixes to these problems in our blogs.