Did you purchase a laptop or a mini-keyboard and find yourself missing your numpad? Many Windows applications work better with a numpad, and it can be easy to underestimate its use until its gone. But not everyone wants a full-size keyboard, and very few laptops come equipped with numpads.
Still, there are plenty of ways to use a numpad on your computer, even if your keyboard doesn’t have one. Windows offers built-in solutions, and additional options exist outside your PC as well. If you need a numpad for your laptop or keyboard, these solutions will fit your needs.
1. Windows 10’s On-Screen Keyboard
The on-screen keyboard in Windows 10 has a virtual numpad that you can use. While not always as fast as a keyboard numpad, the customizable options available for the on-screen keyboard make it a worthy numpad emulator.
To access the on-screen keyboard, you can take a few different routes. The fastest route involves holding down the Windows logo key + Ctrl + O to open the on-screen keyboard. You can also turn the on-screen keyboard on or off from anywhere with the same keyboard shortcut.
If you prefer to go through Windows’ settings, follow these steps:
- Click the Windows Start button.
- Press Settings.
- Scroll down and click Ease of Access.
- On the left sidebar, scroll down to Interaction.
- Click on Keyboard.
- Under Use the On-Screen Keyboard, press the slider to On.
- Closeout or minimize the window.
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. If you select the Hover over keys option, you can also simply hover your cursor over a key in place of a mouse click. By adjusting the hover duration, you can also customize the time it takes before it registers as a press.
If you strictly want to use an in-built keyboard but need to save screen space, you can shrink down the keyboard to mostly focus on the numpad.
2. Numeric Keypad Emulators
For a more specialized and space-saving option, you can download a numpad emulator. While there are many options, you want a virtual numpad with the specifications that fit your needs.
Numpad Emulator offers a variety of options including the ability to scale the button-size, change what keys appear on the numpad, and place special symbols using alt codes without an actual numpad.
If you don’t need any customizations, the virtual numpad works just as smoothly as Windows’ on-screen keyboard.
Download: Numpad Emulator (Free)
3. Laptop NumLock
Many laptops address the lack of a number pad by including a hidden numpad activated by the NumLock key. The numbers will usually be highlighted in a color different than that of the regular keys (usually gray or blue). If you’re trying to locate them, they often share the 7, 8, and 9 keys in the top number row.
To activate the number pad, find the number lock key (usually labeled NumLock, Num Lk, or Num). After locating it, look for the Fn or Alt key. If either the Fn or Alt key’s color matches the alternate numbers, press it in conjunction with the number lock key.
You can tell you’ve succeeded by the number lock key lighting on or off. Now, the alternate color keys will function as the numpad for your laptop. Just remember to turn number lock off afterward using the same key combination.
4. iPhone and iPad Number Pads
There are a few app options that let you use your iPhone or iPad as a numpad emulator but not many feature direct Windows support.
NumPad supports Windows as long as you use a VNC server such as TightVNC to connect to your computer. While the iOS app does cost a small amount, it’s still cheaper and saves more space than an external numpad.
Download: Numpad ($3.99)
Download: TightVNC (Free)
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 quick AutoHotkey guide for beginners.
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 key 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 function as keypad numbers.
You can do all sorts of useful things with AHK and the numpad. 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 Numpad
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 numpad that you connect to your computer via USB or Bluetooth.
While this option costs the most, it does make it dead simple to use numpad keys on your laptop. The physical keyboard makes it infinitely faster to type out lots of numbers too.
No Number Pad? No Problem!
With the six numpad options above, you’ll be able to find a solution that best fits your needs. Whether you need a numpad for everyday use or the occasional activity, an emulator or external option can speed up your typing.
If you’re still looking for more shortcuts to make your life easier, why not learn to type accented characters without annoying alt codes?