Computing

WASD and arrow keys switched? Here’s the solution

The WASD keys have always been the go-to directional controls for gamers. Their convenient placement on the QWERTY keyboard allows for easy one-handed control while the other hand operates the mouse.

However, there are instances where the WASD and arrow keys can unintentionally swap or permanently switch on a keyboard. This is far from ideal, especially when it comes to regular typing tasks. It can also be frustrating for gamers who are unable to switch back to the directional option or suddenly find their keys switched in-game. Let’s explore how to fix the issue when WASD keys have become arrow keys and understand the reasons behind this swap.

How to restore the WASD and arrow keys

Step 1: If possible, unplug your keyboard and reconnect it, preferably to a different port. This simple fix usually resets any alternative arrow key modes and restores the WASD keys to their normal functioning.

Step 2: Locate the Fn key on your keyboard. While not all keyboards have one, most do, and it’s usually found in the lower-left section. The Fn key enables various keyboard functions and, in this case, may be responsible for the WASD swap.

To revert the swap, press the Fn + W keys simultaneously.

Fn and W keys highlighted on a keyboard.
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

Step 3: If the Fn + W method doesn’t work, your keyboard might have a different configuration, requiring a bit of experimentation. Try other Fn combinations to see if any of them restore the original key setup:

  • Fn + Esc
  • Fn + Left Arrow key
  • Fn + Windows key (on compatible keyboards)
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Step 4: Manually remap your keys. If none of the keyboard shortcuts seem effective, consider remapping the keys manually. Many gaming keyboards come with software that allows you to customize any key, not just the hot keys designed for specific purposes. If your keyboard lacks this software, you can still download third-party apps that offer similar functionality. One such app is Sharpkeys, which is great for key customization.

Razer Synapse software.
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

Step 5: Additionally, if you have gaming keyboard profiles configured, you may have accidentally switched to a profile that assigns the WASD keys as directional keys. If you’re aware of gaming profiles on your keyboard, review the steps to switch between profiles and ensure you haven’t unintentionally activated a profile with the key swap.

Corsair K70 LUX RGB keyboard.
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

Step 6: Check the settings of your games and applications. Some programs may automatically swap the keys when you start using them. Check their menu settings to switch back to the traditional keyboard setup, if available. If you play games on a web browser, verify if any enabled extensions are causing the key swap when you don’t want it.

Pubg Key Guide.
Image used with permission by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

How do the arrow keys get swapped?

Often, people unintentionally trigger an alternate mode that causes key swaps. The Fn shortcuts mentioned earlier may have been pressed accidentally, especially if you recently relocated your keyboard or have a mischievous cat.

The swap can also occur when a keyboard is plugged into an unfamiliar USB port, such as moving from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0. Additionally, certain profiles and programs might activate alternate keyboard setups, leading to key swap issues.

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Why is this an option?

Gamers often prefer using the WASD keys as directional keys because they find it more comfortable than using the arrow keys alongside a mouse. Additionally, it keeps their fingers closer to other important keys that they may need for different actions. Keyboards, particularly gaming keyboards, are designed with the expectation that the WASD keys will be used in this manner.

How can I prevent this from happening again?

Keep an eye out for the shortcuts mentioned earlier and take note if the Fn key has been accidentally triggered. Check if your keyboard has switched to a different profile, often indicated by indicator lights. If necessary, disable that profile or familiarize yourself with how to quickly switch back. Additionally, disable any software settings that automatically swap the WASD keys.

Considering a new keyboard with different capabilities? Here’s why compact gaming keyboards may be a better fit for you!

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