Windows 10 allows you to quickly sign in with a numeric PIN instead of a longer password. if you have a keyboard with a number pad, you can use that number pad to enter the PIN–after you enable Num Lock. Here’s how to enable Num Lock at boot so you don’t have to press the key every time.
This should be a lot easier to enable, or even be the default setting, considering Windows 10’s use of PINs. But shockingly, it isn’t.
You may have an option to enable “Num Lock at Boot” in your BIOS or UEFI settings screen to do this. However, we tried this and it just didn’t work, even when we disabled Fast Startup. So we found another way–it just takes a little more legwork.
Update: Since the release of Windows 10’s Creators Update, released in April 2017, Windows now lets you type a numeric PIN on the sign-in screen with or without Num Lock enabled. You might still want to enable Num Lock at boot for another reason, but it’s no longer necessary just to sign in with a PIN.
Step One: Edit the Registry
Windows contains registry settings that control the state of the Num Lock, Caps Lock, and Scroll Lock keys at boot. You’ll have to change these registry settings to have Windows 10 automatically enable Num Lock at boot.
Launch the registry editor by opening the Start menu, typing “regedit” into it, and pressing Enter. Agree to the UAC prompt.
Next, you’ll need to change the “InitialKeyboardIndicators” value in several places.
First, head to
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Keyboard. Double-click the “InitialKeyboardIndicators” value in the right pane and set it to “2”.
Next, expand the “HKEY_USERS” folder. You’ll now need to repeat the above process several times, changing the InitialKeyboardIndicators value under each folder inside the HKEY_USERS folder.
Start by going to
HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Keyboard, and changing the InitialKeyboardIndicators value to 2. Next, repeat the process for the folder below the .DEFAULT folder–it’ll start with an “S-“.
Repeat this process for the remaining folders inside HKEY_USERS, changing the Control Panel\Keyboard\InitialKeyboardIndicators setting under each one.
Step Two: Use This Trick (or Disable Fast Startup)
Once you’re done, you should just be able to reboot and Windows 10 should automatically enable Num Lock at boot. However, it doesn’t actually work this way. The Fast Startup feature, also known as Hybrid Boot, overrides this setting and Windows will continue to boot with Num Lock off.
We’ve found two ways to prevent this from happening. You could disable fast startup, but we’ve found a better trick that should work for you without losing the advantages of hybrid boot.
After you make the changes to your registry, shut down your computer. Don’t reboot it–select the “Shut down” option.
Boot the computer back up again. When you reach the login screen, press the Num Lock key once to enable it. Don’t log into the computer. From the login screen, click the power button and select “Shut down” to shut down the computer again.
Boot the computer back up and Num Lock will be enabled on the login screen. It seems that this puts Fast Startup into a state where it will automatically enable Num Lock at every boot. Yes, this is a weird trick–but it works. (Thanks to DznyRulz on Reddit for discovering this!)
You could also prevent this from happening by disabling the Fast Startup feature after making the above tweaks to your registry. If the trick above doesn’t work for you, try disabling Fast Startup instead.
To do so, open the Control Panel, click “Hardware and Sound,” click “Power Options,” and click “Choose what the power buttons do.” Click the “Change settings that are currently unavailable link at the top of this screen, and then scroll down and uncheck the “Turn on fast startup (recommended)” option. Click “Save changes.”
When you boot your computer, it should now boot a bit slower–perhaps just a few seconds longer on an SSD–but the Num Lock key will be enabled at boot.
Ideally, Windows would do all this by default, but for now, it’s one of those things that takes a bit of extra work just to do something simple. But it’s well worth the convenience.
Image Credit: John on Flickr