Fix: Keyboard Shortcuts are Not Working in Word

Check the shortcut mapping and manually configure it

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Key notes

  • When the keyboard shortcuts are not working in Microsoft Word, recent changes or hardware malfunctions are to blame.
  • You can quickly fix things through the dedicated Online Repair.
  • Read the guide below to find out the underlying causes and easy steps to resolve the problem.
fix shortcuts not working in word

Keyboard shortcuts are vital for quick and seamless functioning, and many rely too much on these. There’s nothing wrong with the approach until the keyboard shortcuts are not working in Word.

When this happens, simple tasks like copy/paste, switching to superscript or subscript, or changing the text style to Bold and Italic can’t be done via the dedicated shortcut. Even when a particular shortcut key doesn’t work, you must rectify things immediately!

Why aren’t my shortcuts working in Word?

  • Misconfigured shortcut mapping: This is the primary reason behind the problem, and remapping the shortcuts should help.
  • Incorrect default language: Surprisingly, when the preferred language is changed, users find shortcut keys not working in Word.
  • Issues with Microsoft Office: Often, an issue inherent to Office can trigger the problem.
  • Malfunctioning keyboard or outdated drivers: The problem can just as well arise when specific keys stop working or the keyboard drivers are outdated.

How do I fix my shortcuts if they’re not working in Microsoft Word?

Before we head to the slightly complex solutions, try these quick ones first:

  • Restart the computer. In case you have problems with a shortcut that employs the F1F12 keys, try holding Fn when using the keyboard shortcut.
  • If you have a spare keyboard, connect it and verify whether the shortcuts start working in Word. In case they do, it’s a hardware issue or outdated drivers to blame.  
  • Those using a gaming keyboard should check the dedicated app and disable any special modes that might conflict with the built-in or custom keyboard shortcuts.
  • Uninstall any apps downloaded around the same time the problem first appeared, and also update Microsoft Office.

If none work, head to the fixes listed next.

1. Launch Microsoft Word in Safe Mode

  1. Press Windows + R to open Run, type winword /safe in the text field, and hit Enter.winword /safe
  2. When Word launches in Safe Mode, open a new document and verify whether the keyboard shortcuts work fine. If they do, it’s a conflicting add-in to blame.
  3. To remove add-ins, click on the File menu near the top left, then choose More, and select Options.options
  4. Navigate to the Add-ins tab, select COM Add-ins from the dropdown menu, and click the Go button.COM Add-ins
  5. Select any add-ins that appear in the list, and click on Remove.remove to fix shortcuts not working in word
  6. After you have removed all the add-ins, click OK to save the changes.
  7. Finally, launch Microsoft Word normally, and the shortcuts should start working.

When the Ctrl shortcuts are not working in Word, inspect the installed add-ins. Also, instead of removing them all in one go, you could remove one, launch Word in normal mode, and verify if the problem is fixed.

When things improve, the add-in last uninstalled triggered issues with the keyboard shortcuts functionality. You can now reinstall the other add-ins removed in the process.

2. Run the dedicated troubleshooter

Tip icon Tip
Users running the latest version of Windows 11 may not find the Keyboard troubleshooter. In that case, head to the next solution.
  1. Press Windows + I to open Settings, and click on Troubleshoot on the right in the System tab.troubleshoot to fix shortcuts not working in word
  2. Click on Other troubleshooters.
  3. Click the Run button next to the Keyboard troubleshooter.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process and make the recommended changes, if any.

When the undo shortcut is not working in Word, the dedicated troubleshooter will help. Also, you may run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter.

3. Manually configure the keyboard shortcut

  1. Launch Microsoft Word, click on the File menu, then choose More from the bottom left, and select Options.
  2. Go to the Customize Ribbon tab, and click the Customize button next to Keyboard shortcuts.customize
  3. Select All commands under Categories, then choose the task for which the shortcut is not working from the right, and press the keyboard shortcut key(s) you want to set for it.command
  4. Once done, click on Assign and save the changes.

When facing problems with specific ones, say the copy paste shortcuts are not working in Word, you can check if there were any changes and manually configure the shortcut.

Here are the command names for some of the popular shortcuts:

  • EditCopy: Copy text
  • EditCut: Cut text
  • EditPaste: Paste text
  • EditUndo: To undo an action
  • ShrinkFont: Reduce the font size
  • GrowFont: Increase the font size

4. Update the keyboard drivers

  1. Press Windows + X to open the Power User menu, and select Device Manager from the list.
  2. Expand the Keyboards entry, right-click on the affected keyboard, and select Update driver.update driver to fix shortcuts not working in word
  3. Choose Search automatically for drivers and wait for Windows to install the best one available automatically
  4. Once done, restart the computer.

Drivers are critical for the effective functioning of any device, so make sure you update the keyboard drivers.

In case Windows can’t find a newer version stored locally or the subscript shortcut is still not working in Word, head to the manufacturer’s website and manually install the latest driver.

Often, your computer system might not be able to update the generic drivers for your hardware and peripherals correctly. There are vital differences between a generic driver and a manufacturer’s driver. Finding the correct driver versions for every hardware component can become tiresome.That’s why a dependable updater can help you find and update your drivers automatically. We strongly suggest the Outbyte Driver Updater, and here’s how to do it:
  1. Download and install the Outbyte Driver Updater app.
  2. Launch the software and wait for the app to detect all incompatible drivers.
  3. Now, it will show you a list of all outdated drivers to select the ones to Update or Ignore.
    OutByte Driver Updater Scan
  4. Click on Update & Apply Selected to download and install the latest versions.
  5. Restart your PC to ensure the applied changes.
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5. Change the language 

  1. Launch Word, click the File menu, choose More, and select Options.
  2. Go to the Language tab, and click on Add a Language.add a language to fix shortcuts not working in word
  3. Select English (United States) from the list, and then click the Install button.English (United States) 
  4. Wait for the download to finish, and then relaunch Microsoft Word.
  5. Once done, set English (United States) as the preferred language under both Office display language and Office authoring languages and proofing.set as preferred
  6. Again, relaunch Word for the changes to come into effect and verify whether the keyboard shortcuts now start working. 

6. Repair Microsoft Office

  1. Press Windows + R to open Run, type appwiz.cpl in the text field, and hit Enter.
  2. Select Microsoft 365 from the list of programs, and click on 365
  3. Click Yes in the UAC prompt.
  4. Now, select Quick Repair, click on Repair, wait for the process to complete, and check whether the problem is resolved.quick repair
  5. If not, run an Online Repair, and follow the on-screen repair to fix shortcuts not working in word

When everything else fails to work, you can always repair the Office installation. An Online Repair, though it takes more time and requires an Internet connection, is a foolproof solution against most Microsoft Office issues.

How do I reset keyboard shortcuts in Word?

  • Open Microsoft Word > click File > select More > choose Options. Then go to Customize Ribbon > click Customize > click on Reset All > Finally, click Yes in the confirmation prompt > relaunch Word.

If the Reset all button is greyed out in Word, a quick workaround is to change the shortcut for any command that functions well, say EditCopy or Bold. As soon as you save the changes, the Reset all button will be available, and you can reset configurations to the default settings.

Remember, in most cases, it’s the keyboard to blame for the problem, not Microsoft Word. And replacing it worked for many.

Now that you know what to do when keyboard shortcuts are not working in Word and have things up and running check the best Windows 11 shortcuts to perform tasks effortlessly. In case you’re still having issues, our Ctrl + D not working guide should provide you with additional solutions.

And for those who are yet to upgrade to Windows 11, we also have a list of the best Windows 10 shortcuts.

If you know any additional solutions, drop them in the comments section below.

More about the topics: keyboard, Microsoft Word, Office 365