Lots of Windows apps work better if you have a numeric keypad on your keyboard. (And it’s great for quickly typing special characters.) But not everyone wants a full-size keyboard, and very few laptops come equipped with numpads.
There are plenty of ways to use a number pad on your computer, even if your keyboard doesn’t have one. Some are built right in, while others will take a bit more work. But one of these solutions will definitely fit your needs.
1. Windows 10’s On-Screen Keyboard
The on-screen keyboard in Windows 10 has a numeric keypad that you can use. It’s not super convenient, as you’ll have to click on each of the numbers, but if you don’t need it very often, it’s an easy way to go.
First, open up Windows PowerShell. Hit Windows + X (or right-click on the Windows menu button) and click on Windows PowerShell from the resulting menu.
When the command prompt appears, type “osk” and hit Enter.
When the on-screen keyboard first appears, there will be no number pad. You’ll need to click the Options button in the lower-right corner, and then check Turn on numeric key pad.
Finally, hit the NumLock button to bring up the keypad.
Now, whenever you need to type a number from the numpad, just click it on the on-screen keyboard. This also works with modifier keys: just press Alt, Ctrl, or any other button you need, then click the digit on the numeric keypad.
2. Numeric Keypad Emulators
For a more dedicated (and less screen-real-estate-intensive) option, you can download a number pad emulator. There are lots of options out there — I went with Numpad Emulator, which I found on SourceForge.
Like the on-screen keyboard, just click on any of the numbers to type the numpad-equivalent numeral into any app.
If you have any suggestions for good number pad emulators, share them in the comments below!
3. Laptop NumLock
Many laptops address the lack of a number pad by including a hidden numeric keypad activated by the NumLock key. The numbers will usually be highlighted in a color different than that of the regular keys — they’re often gray or blue. They also often share the 7, 8, and 9 keys in the number row.
To activate the number pad, find the number lock key (usually labeled NumLock, Num Lk, or Num). You might have to press the Fn or Shift key to get it to work. Now, those keys will function as the numeric keypad for your laptop. Just press the number lock again to turn this feature off.
4. iPhone and iPad Number Pads
There are a few apps out there that will let you use your iPhone or iPad as a numeric keyboard. It doesn’t cost as much as a physical key pad, but still gets you the ease of fast typing and not giving up screen space. Like desktop emulators, there are lots of options, and each one is a little different. NumPad is a free option that uses TightVNC to connect to your computer.
If you’re willing to pay $6.99, TouchPad is a nicer-looking and more versatile option.
Many options will require that you install a small receiver app on your computer. After that, you just sync up your phone or tablet and start typing!
5. Using AutoHotKey as a Number Pad
If you want a built-in solution that doesn’t require an on-screen keyboard or a laptop, AutoHotKey is a great solution. If you’re not familiar with the app, check out our introduction to AHK (and download some cool scripts while you’re at it).
Here’s a script that will let you use the Caps Lock key to send your number keys as numeric keypad keys:
SetCapsLockState, AlwaysOff #If GetKeyState("CapsLock", "P") 1::Numpad1 2::Numpad2 3::Numpad3 4::Numpad4 5::Numpad5 6::Numpad6 7::Numpad7 8::Numpad8 9::Numpad9 0::Numpad0
This script keeps your Caps Lock key from doing its normal function, but how often do you use that anyway?
If you want to use the Caps Lock key as a toggle for sending numeric keypad keys, replace the first two lines with this single one:
#If GetKeyState("CapsLock", "T")
Now, whenever the Caps Lock is on, your numbers will be sent as keypad numbers.
You can do all sorts of useful things with AHK and the numeric keypad. For example, I needed to create bullets in Excel, which you can do with Alt + Numpad 7. I don’t have a number pad, so I whipped up a script that made Alt + # send as Alt + Numpad # (!7::!Numpad7). If you’re willing to experiment, you can solve just about any problem.
6. Buy an External Numeric Keypad
If you need to use a numpad a lot, you may want to go with this option. External number pads are exactly what they sound like: a small number pad that you connect to your computer via USB or Bluetooth. They’re very affordable:
And while this option probably costs the most, it does make it dead simple to use numpad keys on your computer. The physical keyboard makes it much faster to type lots of numbers, too.
No Number Pad? No Problem!
Gone are the days when you need to use someone else’s computer or keyboard when you need a numeric keyboard. And you don’t need to copy and paste symbols that you could just as easily type with alt codes.
Just use one of these ways to emulate or add a number pad to your computer, and you’ll be set to go.
How do you get numeric keyboard functionality on your computer? Let us know what works for you in the comments below!