How to Turn Scroll Lock On (or Off) in Excel for Windows or Mac

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

Scroll lock…

… if you haven’t accidentally turned it on, you have no idea how frustrating this single key can be!

Don’t get me wrong:

When you want to use scroll lock, it’s great. But when you don’t, it can be infuriating.

Not familiar with scroll lock?

It has a simple function: the arrow keys scroll your spreadsheet without changing the selected cell.

It’s great when you’re skimming through data.

But when you’re used to using the arrow keys to change your selection, it’s downright maddening.

Here’s what to do to fix the problem…

Disabling scroll lock in Windows

Many Windows keyboards have a scroll lock button, and disabling scroll lock is as easy as hitting that button. It might be labeled “Scroll Lock” or “ScrLk.”

Your keyboard also probably has a light that turns on when scroll lock is engaged. Hit that button, and if the light turns off, you’ve disabled scroll lock.

But what if you don’t have a scroll lock button?

Then you’ll need to use the on-screen keyboard.

In Windows, right-click on the Start menu, then select Run.

windows-10-run

You can also press the Windows key on your keyboard + R.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

This will bring up the Run dialog.

From here, just type in “osk” and hit Enter.

run-osk

Then click the ScrLk button on the on-screen keyboard.

osk-scrlk

You’ll know that scroll lock is on if the key is blue. When it returns to grey, it’s off.

If you’re using Windows 8, you can also use the Charms bar to search for “run” and launch the run dialog from there.

Pro tip: scroll lock status in Excel

If your keyboard doesn’t have a scroll lock light, or you’re not sure if scroll lock is on, look at Excel’s status bar.

 

scroll-lock-status-bar

When scroll lock is on, you’ll see “Scroll Lock” displayed in the status bar. When it’s off, you won’t see any indication.

Disabling scroll lock in macOS

Disabling scroll lock on a Mac is just as easy—but only if you have a full-size keyboard.

On an extended keyboard, hit the F14 button to turn scroll lock on and off. You may have to hit Shift + F14, depending on your settings. (If that doesn’t work, try Command + F14).

However, if you’re working on a laptop or a smaller keyboard, you don’t have an F14 button. And that causes a lot of problems.

After quite a bit of research, we’ve found what is probably the best solution. It uses AppleScript to send a command to Excel via your keyboard.

Many thanks to Damo, who originally posted this script:

set returnedItems to (display dialog “Press OK to send scroll lock keypress to Microsoft Excel or press Quit” with title “Excel Scroll-lock Fix” buttons {“Quit”, “OK”} default button 2)
set buttonPressed to the button returned of returnedItems

if buttonPressed is “OK” then
tell application “Microsoft Excel”
activate
end tell
tell application “System Events”
key code 107 using {shift down}
end tell
activate
display dialog “Scroll Lock key sent to Microsoft Excel” with title “Mac Excel Scroll-lock Fix” buttons {“OK”}
end if

Open a new text document, then copy and paste the above script into the document. Save it as “Excel-ScrLk.applescript” in your Applications folder.

Now, to activate (or deactivate) scroll lock, make sure Excel is open and double-click the Excel-ScrLk icon. This will open the script. Click the Run button at the top of the window.

applescript-scroll-lock

You’ll then be asked if you want to send the scroll lock command. Click OK.

accept-scroll-lock

After that, scroll lock will be activated or deactivated, depending on its state before you ran the script.

Head to Excel and push a few arrow keys to see how it behaves.

This whole process seems a bit complicated, but once you’ve done it a few times, it becomes very easy and fast.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Free yourself from scroll lock

Scroll lock is actually a really useful feature—but only if you’re trying to use it. If you accidentally turn it on, it becomes a nightmare.

Fortunately, turning it off is easy. And now you know how!