Number pads or numpads are being heavily discarded from many of the new Laptops nowadays. But they were a go to years ago. So, do you really need a numpad? Or is it just a useless piece of hardware that needs to disappear?
Here’s your answer: It Depends. Most of the time, you will never need the numpad. However, if you have to type a lot of numbers, or use some software that needs a numpad for shortcuts, then you definitely need it.
That being said, it doesn’t hurt you to have a numpad if you think you might use it someday.
But if you just hate having a numpad on your computer or the computer that you really want to get does not have a numpad, then you can definitely forget about it because you can still add an external one if you need it in the future (more about this later in the article)
With that said, you really need to know if you will ever need a numpad so that you decide whether you make sure you have one or not.
When will you need a numpad?
If you work on excel, or any other software that requires a lot of numerical input from you, then a numpad will make your life much easier.
Instead of typing on the numbers row, you can easily use your right hand to navigate the different number buttons very quickly.
Bankers for example use the numpad extensively. They might need to use it more than anything else on the keyboard because they will be writing numbers much more than they will be writing letters.
So if you believe that your laptop will one day be needed for an extensive data entry of numbers, then you’ll have to have a numpad as you’ll end up saving a lot of time when typing these numbers.
There are other scenarios where you will need a numpad too. I don’t type in a lot of numbers but I still can’t live without my number pad.
Why? Because I need it for a 3D software called Blender that I use for game development.
Some pieces of software contain hundreds or thousands of functionalities.
Instead of having to navigate some of the frequently used functionalities in these pieces of software using menus, you can use keyboard shortcuts to make your work much faster.
Since these pieces of software are really huge, they will need every extra key on the keyboard they can get in order for you to use it as a shortcut, and this is where the numpad comes in.
The numpad in Blender for example contains a lot of shortcuts that many professional blender users can’t live without, and some of these shortcuts need the number pad by default, so these professionals will prefer keyboards that come with a number pad.
So, if you are planning to work on any huge software using your computer, make sure to first check if the number pad will be useful when using the software.
If you’re 100% sure that the pieces of software that you will be using will not need a numpad, then just ignore having one.
I need a numpad, what should I do?
So let’s say you have already bought a laptop with no numpad and you realized later that you need it for some work. What should you do?
If you need a numpad that you know you will be using a lot, then you can easily get a separate keyboard with a numpad and use it instead of your built in keyboard. You can find plenty of great and cheap separate keyboards with numpads here on amazon.
There is another option however that does not cost you a dime, but this option is definitely limited.
You can use the virtual keyboard that comes built in within your computer. On windows, use the shortcut win + Ctrl + O and you’ll get a virtual keyboard.
If the virtual keyboard does not contain the numpad, you can add one from the ‘Options’ button very quickly.
This is definitely limited. If you need it for a one time use, then go for it instead of buying a mechanical keyboard.
However, If you’re going to use the number pad constantly, then it won’t be a very good idea to type numbers using a mouse on a virtual keyboard.
On another note, there has been an attempt to create a piece of glass that can act as your number pad for some Apple computers.
The project was a Kickstarter project but it looks like the project may not go anywhere as the Kickstarter page was last updated in 2017. Here’s a verge article about it which was written back in 2017. Even though the project might have reached a dead end, it’s still worth it if you read about the initial idea.
So to recap the number pad vs number row argument.
If you need to type in a lot of numerical data or you are going to use a software that needs the numpad for shortcuts or anything else, then go get a numpad. Else, just feel free to safely ignore having one.
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