How to Fix Alt Codes Not Working On Windows

Have you ever faced a scenario where you’re trying to type a special character using an Alt code, but nothing happens? It can be quite frustrating, especially when you need to include these characters in your work. Alt codes are a handy Windows feature that lets you type special symbols and characters not readily available on your keyboard by pressing the Alt key along with a numeric code. Sometimes, however, they might not respond as they should. Fortunately, there are several ways you can troubleshoot this issue to get your Alt codes working again.

how to fix alt codes not working on windows

Check if Num Lock is On

The numeric keypad on the right side of many keyboards can only be used to input Alt codes when Num Lock is active. Without Num Lock being on, your Alt codes won’t work because the system isn’t in the right mode to register numeric entries.

Detailed Steps

  1. Look at your keyboard for a key labeled “Num Lk,” “Num Lock,” or a similar variation.
  2. Press the “Num Lock” key to activate the numeric keypad. An indicator light might turn on to show that it’s active.
  3. Try entering an Alt code by holding down the “Alt” key while typing the code on the numeric keypad.
  4. Release the “Alt” key to see if the character appears.


Activating Num Lock is a simple and effective way to resolve Alt code issues. The main benefit is its simplicity; however, if the problem persists, it could indicate a deeper issue.

Enable Mouse Keys When Num Lock is Off

You may not be aware that when you enable Mouse Keys in Windows, it allows you to use your numeric keypad to control the mouse cursor. This could prevent the use of Alt codes when Num Lock is off.

Detailed Steps

  1. Open the Windows “Control Panel.”
  2. Select “Ease of Access Center.”
  3. Click on “Make the keyboard easier to use.”
  4. Look for “Set up Mouse Keys” and uncheck “Turn on Mouse Keys.”
  5. Click “Apply” then “OK” to save your changes.


Disabling Mouse Keys can eliminate conflicts with Alt code entry if Mouse Keys is causing the numeric keypad to be used for another purpose. However, this could limit functionality for users who rely on Mouse Keys for accessibility reasons.

Keyboard Language and Layout

If your keyboard is set to a different language or layout, the input you are providing might not be recognized by the system as expected when attempting to employ Alt codes.

Detailed Steps

  1. Go to the Windows “Settings” menu.
  2. Choose “Time & Language.”
  3. Click on “Language” from the sidebar.
  4. Under the “Preferred languages” section, ensure your primary language is set correctly.
  5. If necessary, add a language or set the existing one as default.


Ensuring the correct keyboard layout can increase compatibility and functionality of Alt codes. However, changing these settings unintentionally may affect your overall typing experience.

Update Your Keyboard Driver

Outdated or corrupt keyboard drivers might lead to dysfunction in interpreting Alt codes.

Detailed Steps

  1. Press “Windows Key + X” and select “Device Manager.”
  2. Expand the “Keyboards” section.
  3. Right-click on your keyboard listed and select “Update driver.”
  4. Choose “Search automatically for updated driver software.”
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to install any driver updates.


Updating your driver may rectify underlying issues, ensuring your Alt codes work correctly. But some users might find this process intimidating, and in rare cases, driver updates can cause further issues.

Check for Hardware Issues

Sometimes the problem could be as simple as your keyboard malfunctioning. Testing with an alternative keyboard can isolate the issue.

Detailed Steps

  1. Disconnect your current keyboard.
  2. Connect a different keyboard to your computer.
  3. Try to use Alt codes with the new keyboard.


This step can quickly reveal if the problem lies with the hardware. The downside is the requirement of having access to an extra keyboard.

Restart Your Computer

A classic fix for countless issues—the traditional reboot. Restarting your computer can resolve transient problems that might be affecting keyboard functions.

Detailed Steps

  1. Close all open applications to save your work.
  2. Click on the “Start” menu.
  3. Select the “Power” option and then “Restart.”


Restarting is an easy and often effective way to solve minor glitches including problems with Alt codes not working. However, it is more of a temporary fix and might not solve more persistent issues.

Turn off Unnecessary Startup Programs

Some software that runs on startup could interfere with other processes, including those needed for typing special characters.

Detailed Steps

  1. Open the Task Manager by pressing “Ctrl + Shift + Esc.”
  2. Navigate to the “Startup” tab.
  3. Disable any applications that aren’t necessary upon startup by right-clicking and choosing “Disable.”


Preventing unnecessary programs from starting can help ensure other processes, including those required for Alt codes, run smoothly. But if you disable the wrong application, it might affect other functionality you require.

Run the Keyboard Troubleshooter

Windows has built-in troubleshooters for various components including the keyboard, which can automatically fix some common problems.

Detailed Steps

  1. Click the “Start” button and select “Settings.”
  2. Go to “Update & Security,” then click on “Troubleshoot.”
  3. Select “Keyboard” and then “Run the troubleshooter.”


Troubleshooters can be a great tool for resolving unexplained issues. However, they may not always find the problem, and less technical users might find this process more challenging.

Adjust Regional Settings

Wrong regional settings could potentially affect the functionality of the Alt codes.

Detailed Steps

  1. Open “Control Panel.”
  2. Click on “Clock, Language, and Region.”
  3. Adjust the settings to match your correct region.


Correct regional settings ensure proper keyboard functioning, but changing them without full understanding might lead to confusion in other areas, like date and time formats.

Scan for Malware

Malware can interfere with system operations, including keyboard inputs.

Detailed Steps

  1. Run a full system scan with your installed antivirus software.
  2. Follow the prompts to quarantine or remove any detected malware.


Keeping your system free of malware protects your overall PC health, but extended scans can be time-consuming.

Having walked through various solutions to resolve Alt code issues on your Windows computer, we hope you’ve found successful results. When it comes to technology, seemingly significant problems often have simple fixes. Whether it was a misconfigured setting, outdated drivers, or hardware conflicts, identifying the issue means you can get back to efficiently inputting the special characters that enhance your digital communications and documents.

Always remember that staying updated on system updates, driver updates, and observing how different software impacts your system can prevent these problems from cropping up again. If none of the mentioned troubleshooting steps have resolved your Alt code concerns, it may indicate a deeper issue within your operating system or hardware, requiring professional assistance.

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding Alt codes not working on Windows:

1. Can Alt codes be used without a numeric keypad?
Typically, Alt codes require a numeric keypad to work. However, on laptops or compact keyboards without a numeric keypad, you may often use a function key (Fn) in conjunction with other keys to simulate a numeric keypad.

2. Why do some Alt codes produce the wrong symbols?
Alt codes are based on the Windows system you’re using and the application context. Different programs may interpret these codes uniquely, or system settings might be directing your computer to use a different character set.

3. What if my keyboard doesn’t have a Num Lock key?
For keyboards lacking a Num Lock key, using Alt codes could be more problematic. You may need to check your computer’s or keyboard’s manual for specific instructions or consider using a character map application to input special symbols.

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