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This week’s post is written by Amy Miller. Amy is a writer for Office.com. She’s written and edited content for Excel, Access, OneNote, and InfoPath.
Imagine you’re working in a spreadsheet and you innocently press the arrow keys on your keyboard to move to another cell, but instead of moving to another cell, the entire spreadsheet moves. You may have asked yourself, what the heck just happened, and how do I make it stop? Lucky you. You’ve encountered that pesky little problem called Scroll Lock.
Recently, while reviewing customer comments related to scrolling in a spreadsheet, I discovered that a lot of folks have run into this issue. Scroll Lock is a toggling lock key on the keyboard, just like the CAPS LOCK key. Once pressed, Scroll Lock is enabled. To turn it off, simply press the Scroll Lock key again.
Easy, right? Well, the real problem is that many people don’t know how Scroll Lock got turned on in the first place, so they don’t know where the key is to turn it off, and often times they don’t realize that Scroll Lock is causing the problem in the first place. All they know is that they suddenly can’t move between cells with the arrow keys.
So here’s a quick tip to help save some time and ease any scrolling-related panic. If you’re having these wonky scrolling issues, take a look at the Excel status bar. If Scroll Lock appears, then it’s turned on.
To turn it off, just press the Scroll Lock key, which sometimes appears as ScrLk on the keyboard.
If you can’t find it, try turning the Windows On-Screen Keyboard on (go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, Ease of Access), and disabling it from there.
For more information and troubleshooting tips, check out the article Turn off Scroll Lock.
The 2010 on-screen keyboard is black, not blue, and the ScrLck key is 4th down on the right hand side
Interesting....can you tell me what the purpose of scroll lock. I have been in IT for years and have never had anyone have this issue, guess I should consider myself lucky! Although, when our son was younger and playing games on our computer he enabled this feature and we had "fun" figuring it out.
Great catch, Chris. I'll get the image updated with the Win7 on-screen keyboard.
Wendy B - Scroll Lock is an old carry-over from early computing. It was used to change how the arrow keys worked, enabling people to scroll the screen. It's not used by many applications anymore and a lot of newer keyboards don't even have the key. But if you're unfortunate enough to accidently enable it, it can be very confusing. We get a lot of customer comments about this issue. Glad you and your users haven't run into it!
Wendy B -- Some people use purposely use scroll lock for exactly the purpose described. Say you have multiple cells selected in non-contiguous ranges and some are off the viewable screen. Once you use an arrow key you lose the range you selected, however, with scroll lock on, you can use the arrows to scroll off the screen without losing your selection.
Of course I realize that one can do the same by clicking on the scroll arrow or by just wheeling the scroll wheel on the mouse, but there are many power users that use the keyboard for 99% of things in Excel and don't like to pick up the mouse (keyboard is almost always faster than mouse), and for those people, scroll lock comes in handy to scroll off the screen while retaining a selection of cells that may be non-contiguous.
Since scroll lock is mostly confusing people, why does Excel still support its functionality? The main road to good useability is to check which functionality is used and give that easy access. Remove the clutter is best.
If the Excel team is keen on keeping in the good book with the "IT old folks from the Host age", make it an option that is disabled per default. The "old folks" are subject matter experts and will be able to find the option setting.
Nice post - my other two favourite "I've pressed something by mistake" Excel keys are:
Ctrl-` (the weird thing to the left of '1'): Stops displaying formula results and instead displays the formulas inside cells. Handy when you wanted it, but not so handy when it's next to Ctrl-1 (format cells).
F8: Sets off into this strange selection mode which looks much like holding down shift but isn't. If you press F8 again, it goes away. I'd broken three shift keys trying to unstick them before I knew this one.
When scroll lock is turned on,it would pause text scrolling down the screen until it is turned off again. However, it only works on software that supports it, which most software today does not. While it was useful in the days of character interfaces, in a GUI environment it is much less useful. Programmers can however make their software respond to the key in whatever way they like, hence it need not be restricted to its original function.