My numeric keypad has somehow got into a "mouse emulation" mode where the number keys just move the mouse pointer around (2 = down; 8 = up, 6 = right, etc). Anyone know how to make it work normally again?

None of the other numpad keys work either (I first noticed the whole thing when Ctrl + ÷ (numpad division sign) no longer produced "line comment" in IntelliJ IDEA). Toggling num lock doesn't affect this (though the indicator LED works as usual).

I'm using GNOME on Lucid Lynx (10.4).

8 Answers 8


Or you can press SHIFT+NUMLOCK

  • Thanks! This appears to be the only way to do it as of 11.10 since the preference Richard lists above is not there. Dec 17, 2011 at 13:33
  • 4
    SHIFT NUMLOCK does not work for me! Note the preference has been moved to "Universal Access".
    – user29478
    Mar 15, 2012 at 9:09
  • 1
    For me on Ubuntu 12 SHIFT NUMLOCK enables it. While ESC brings me back to normal mode.
    – uvasal
    Aug 3, 2013 at 12:26
  • SHIFT NUMLOCK works on 16.04 LTS.
    – GJSmith3rd
    Aug 18, 2016 at 12:37

From the menu, use

System > Preferences > Keyboard

On the tab titled "Mouse Keys" there is a check box to toggle "Pointer can be controlled using the keypad" .

You can disable this behaviour there.

  • 1
    could not find this setting in Ubuntu 14, though SHIFT+NUMLOCK worked
    – SAFX
    Jan 1, 2015 at 2:14

You can permanently disable this incredibly annoying keybinding by editing /usr/share/X11/xkb/compat/complete in superuser mode (ie, gksudo gedit /usr/share/X11/xkb/compat/complete) and commenting out mousekeys & accessx(full):

// $XKeyboardConfig$
// $Xorg: complete,v 1.3 2000/08/17 19:54:34 cpqbld Exp $
default xkb_compatibility "complete" {
include "basic"
augment "iso9995"
//augment "mousekeys"
//augment "accessx(full)"
augment "misc"
augment "xfree86"
augment "level5"
  • Any idea if it can be done dynamically using a script? I ask because I need this feature for my laptop at home but it can cause severe crashes at work (mouse pointer keeps moving downwards like crazy, forcing me to reboot) if I forget to turn it off.
    – highsciguy
    Sep 11, 2012 at 14:30
  • @highsciguy Yes, this can be controlled with a command (xkbset) from a script askubuntu.com/a/794802/19753 Jul 4, 2016 at 18:06
  • True: <b>incredibly annoying keybinding</b>
    – Prashant
    Jun 27, 2020 at 4:55

In Ubuntu 12.10, to solve this problem you can follow the below steps:

  1. System Setting
  2. Universal Access
  3. Pointing and Clicking
  4. Turn off the Mouse key by clicking the Mouse Key (Control the pointer)

as root user, type the following command that will completely inhibit the feature:

gconftool-2 --direct --config-source xml:readwrite:/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.mandatory --type string --set /desktop/gnome/accessibility/keyboard/mousekeys_enable "false" 

Apart from Shift+NumLock (bound to the corresponding action to enable/disable this mode), an additional xkbset utility can be used to control this from command line:

xkbset -m

Learned this tip from Enabling mousekeys.

  • 2
    Thanks, it works! I'm using a minimal window manager so I don't have all those fancy menus people are talking about. Your answer is the only one that's relevant for me.
    – Niccolo M.
    Jul 5, 2016 at 0:02

Just a heads-up, in Ubuntu 12.04 (Unity) this "feature" can be enabled and disabled in the Universal Access dialogue under the Pointing and Clicking tab.


On my 20.04 I could only get out of that mode using the following command which has been kindly suggested here:

dconf write /org/gnome/desktop/a11y/keyboard/mousekeys-enable true

Maybe too many system upgrades and prior fiddling made it the only way out for me.

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