Alt codes, also known as alt key codes, are special codes that provide a direct output of a character straight from the keyboard. They are especially useful when you need to type a character that isn’t available on a regular keyboard, such as the degree symbol (°) or the copyright symbol (©). But what do you do when you don’t have a numeric keypad, often referred to as a numpad or number pad? This guide will walk you through using alt codes without a numpad in Windows 11 or Windows 10.
Also see: How to Remap Keyboard Keys in Windows 11
How to use numpad on laptop without numlock
Many laptop keyboards lack a dedicated numpad due to space constraints. Nevertheless, many of these smaller keyboards still maintain a makeshift numpad embedded within the regular keys. This “virtual numpad” can often be activated using the Fn (Function) key.
- Locate the Fn key on your keyboard. This key is usually found in the bottom row of keys, either on the left or right side of the spacebar.
- Look for the keys on your keyboard that have small numbers or symbols printed on the front side. These keys act as your virtual numpad.
- To activate these keys as your numpad, you need to press and hold the Fn key while you press the corresponding keys with the small numbers or symbols.
For example, on certain Lenovo laptops, the virtual numpad is integrated within the regular keys 7, 8, 9, U, I, O, J, K, L, and M. To use them as a numpad, you would press and hold the Fn key, and then press the necessary keys. Note that the layout might differ depending on the specific Lenovo model, and the same goes for laptops from other manufacturers.
Linked issue: How to Unlock Lenovo Keyboard if It’s not Working
Typing Alt codes without a numpad using Character Map in Windows 11 or 10
If you are working on a Windows 11 or Windows 10 system without a physical numpad, the Character Map utility can be an invaluable tool for typing special characters. Here’s how to use it:
- Click on the Start menu or press the Windows key on your keyboard.
- Type “Character Map” into the search bar.
- Click on “Character Map” from the search results to open it.
- The Character Map window displays all the characters available in your selected font. Scroll through until you find the character you want to type.
- Click on the desired character, then click the “Select” button, followed by “Copy“. This action copies the selected character to your clipboard.
- Now, navigate to where you need the character and press Ctrl + V to paste it.
Using Alt codes with the On-screen Keyboard
Another method for using alt codes without a physical numpad involves the on-screen keyboard. This is a virtual keyboard that appears on your computer screen, allowing you to click on keys with your mouse instead of pressing physical keys.
- Click on the Start button or press the Windows key on your keyboard.
- In the search bar that appears, type “on-screen keyboard” and hit Enter.
- Click on “On-Screen Keyboard” from the search results to open it.
- To use an Alt code, click on the “Alt” key on the on-screen keyboard, then click the necessary numbers from the numpad section of the on-screen keyboard.
- Release the “Alt” key, and the corresponding special character will appear at the cursor location in the active window.
Related resource: Windows 11 Keyboard Shortcuts Not Working (Fix)
Typing special characters like em dash (—) without a numpad
The em dash (—) is a frequently used typographic symbol that is often tricky to type without a numpad. Fortunately, you can use the methods mentioned earlier (Character Map and On-Screen Keyboard), or use the AutoCorrect feature in Microsoft Word. Here’s how you can set it up:
- Open Microsoft Word and go to the “File” tab located at the top left corner of the screen.
- In the drop-down menu that appears, click on “Options“. A new window will open.
- In the “Word Options” window, select “Proofing” from the left-hand side menu.
- On the “Proofing” page, click on the “AutoCorrect Options” button.
- In the new “AutoCorrect” window, you’ll see two fields: “Replace” and “With”. In the “Replace” field, enter a unique text sequence that you want to be automatically replaced with an em dash (for example, “–“).
- Now, move to the “With” field, and type an em dash. If you don’t have one, you can copy and paste it from the web.
- Click on the “Add” button to add this rule to the AutoCorrect list, and then click “OK” to save the changes.
Now, whenever you type your specified text sequence (e.g., “–“) in Microsoft Word and hit the spacebar or enter key, it will be automatically replaced with an em dash.
The absence of a dedicated numpad should not limit your ability to use alt codes and type special characters. As we’ve discussed in this guide, there are various alternative methods available for Windows 11 and Windows 10 users. Whether you’re using the Character Map utility, the on-screen keyboard, the hidden numpad on your laptop, or the AutoCorrect feature in Microsoft Word, each method has its advantages and can help you overcome the limitations of your physical keyboard.
Whether you’re using a laptop without a physical numpad or typing in a browser, these methods should ensure you can easily type special characters regardless of your keyboard setup.