How to Fix Unable to Move Cells in Excel

This guide will explain how to fix your sheet when you are unable to move cells in Excel.

When working with Microsoft Excel, you may encounter a problem where the arrow keys are not working as intended.

Let’s take a look at a quick example of what this issue looks like.

While Excel allows us to use our mouse cursor to switch between cells, it’s often much faster to use the arrow keys to navigate.

Users may encounter an issue where the arrow keys are not changing the selected cell. Instead, the arrow keys seem to only scroll across the entire worksheet.

Why does this problem occur?

The usual explanation is that the Scroll Lock (ScrLk) key was pressed by the user accidentally. Once the Scroll Lock mode is enabled, Excel moves the whole worksheet when using the Up and Down keys instead of moving between cells.

Microsoft Excel also shows an alert in Status Bar when Scroll Lock is turned on. The following screenshot shows the Scroll Lock alert displayed in the MS Excel status bar:

scroll lock mode in Microsoft Excel


If you face this problem in your Microsoft Excel program, this guide will give you a few methods to fix this issue. 

You should now understand why we sometimes cannot move around cells in Excel. Let’s take a look at what this issue looks like in an actual spreadsheet and dive into some of the methods we can use to fix it.



Sample Worksheet Where You are Unable to Move Between Cells

In the following section, we will show what a worksheet looks like when it is in Scroll Lock mode. We’ll also go in-depth on the formulas and tools used to fix this issue.

First, let’s take a look at a real example of a spreadsheet in Scroll Lock Mode.

The first sign that you are in Scroll Lock mode can be found on your physical keyboard. If your keyboard contains a Scroll Lock indicator, you may check if it is lit.

Scroll Lock button available in older keyboards


Excel includes an indicator in the Status Bar that lets the user know whether they are in Scroll Lock mode or not.

unable to move cells in Excel in Scroll Lock mode


Most modern keyboards, especially those found in laptops, remove the Scroll Lock key entirely. If the user has no physical key for the Scroll Lock, they may use the Windows On-Screen keyboard to access a virtual key instead.

Do you want to take a closer look at our examples? You can make your own copy of the spreadsheet above using the link attached below. 

If you’re ready to try fixing your worksheet set to Scroll Lock mode, head over to the next section to read our step-by-step breakdown on how to do it!



How to Fix Unable to Move Cells in Excel

This section will guide you through each step needed to remove the Scroll Lock mode in your Excel program. You’ll learn how to use an On-Screen Keyboard to disable this mode. We will also show you how to disable Scroll Lock mode in your application permanently.

Follow these steps to bring back functionality to your arrow keys:

  1. Right-click on the Status bar found in the bottom part of the Excel program. The Status bar gives the user information about the current mode and the special keys that are engaged at the moment.
    click on Status bar
  2. Select the ‘Scroll Lock’ option in the pop-up menu.
    Deselect Scroll Lock mode
  3. The user may also escape Scroll Lock mode by using the On-Screen Keyboard application for Windows. We can access this tool quickly by clicking on the shortcut Win + R to open the Run command. Type ‘OSK.exe’ into the text box and click OK.
    open on-screen keyboard if unable to move cells in Excel
  4. The On-Screen Keyboard will now appear as a new window. Click on the virtual button labeled ‘ScrLk’ to toggle the Scroll Lock mode in your Excel program.
    click on ScrLk button

These are all the steps you need to fix sheets where you cannot move between cells using the arrow keys.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is the purpose of using Scroll Lock Mode?
    While the Scroll Lock Mode makes it challenging to use the program normally, there is a reason for using it. When the mode is active, the user can scroll through the Excel sheet without changing the active cell.



This step-by-step guide should be all you need to fix spreadsheets where you cannot move between cells using the arrow keys. Use our guide to disable the Scroll Lock mode in Microsoft Excel.

The Scroll Lock Mode issue is just one example of an issue you may find in Microsoft Excel. Our website covers hundreds of other Excel methods and functions you can apply on your own spreadsheets. 

For example, we have another article that covers how to bring back missing row and column headings in Excel. With so many other Excel functions available, you can surely find one that can solve your current problem.

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