Arrow keys

Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope
Keyboard arrow keys

Alternatively referred to as cursor keys, direction keys, and navigation keys, the arrow keys are usually located between the standard section and the numeric pad on computer keyboards. It is made up of four keys: the left arrow (back arrow), up arrow, down arrow, and the right arrow (forward arrow). The picture is an example of what the arrow keys may look like on your keyboard.


Some keyboards, such as the Microsoft Natural Keyboard, may arrange these keys differently.

Overview of a keyboard

In the picture below, the Saitek gaming keyboard shows where the arrow keys can be found. Also, the numeric keypad can function as arrow keys when Num Lock is turned off.

Arrow keys on computer keyboard

Where are my arrow keys?

The arrow keys are found between your keyboard and your keypad, as shown in the picture above. For smaller keyboards and many laptop keyboards, the arrow keys may be moved below the Enter and the right Shift. Also, some compact keyboards may move the arrow keys to the keypad and switch between the keypad and arrow keys by pressing the Num Lock key.

How are arrow keys used?

Below is a list of the most common reasons why someone may use the arrow keys on their keyboard.

  • Move the text cursor on the screen to insert or remove text.

If you hold down the Ctrl and press the Left arrow or Right arrow keys, it moves the cursor one word at a time instead of one character.

Practice using arrow keys

You can practice using the arrow keys by clicking anywhere in the following text box and then use the up, right, down, or left arrows to move around in the box.

  • Move from one cell to another cell in a spreadsheet. Use the right and left arrow keys to move between columns and up and down arrow keys to move between rows.
  • Use in combination with other keys for shortcut keys. For example, pressing the Alt key and the Left arrow key in all Internet browsers takes you back one page. If you've gone back, pressing Alt and the Right arrow goes forward a page.
  • Move a character in a computer game.
  • Select text. For example, hold down the Shift and press the arrow key in the direction you want to highlight text.
  • Move the mouse pointer using the keyboard instead of the mouse.

Why are my arrow keys not working?

If you're playing a game and trying to use the arrow keys to control a character, the keys may be mapped to the W, A, S, and D keys. These keys are used because other keys around them can also be used for other actions. In this situation, if you want to use the arrow keys, remap the keys in the game keyboard settings.

If the arrow keys are not working in any program, there may be a problem with the keyboard. See the following link for help with troubleshooting keys not working on a keyboard.

Arrow, Keyboard terms