Keyboard troubleshooting: is “Sticky Keys” on?
Yesterday I received a call from someone who was rather distraught and frantic (this happens from time to time at my Tech Support business) because, all of a sudden, they couldn’t type on their computer. Actually, she could type.. but she was getting very strange results.
After determining that she had not recently poured an extra-large Cafe Latte on her keyboard (to read my article on what to do if you do spill on your keyboard, [or, if a single key has stopped responding] click here), and asking some other diagnostic questions, I determined that she had accidentally turned on Windows’ FilterKeys feature and simply needed to turn it off again.
FilterKeys is a subset of keyboard “Accessibility Options” included in Windows to assist people who have difficulties typing. These tools are activated (toggled on and off) by keyboard stroke combinations (shortcuts).
Tip of the day: Understand and use (or make sure they’re turned off) keyboard Accessibility Options. There are several types of help for those with typing difficulties, namely:
StickyKeys is an accessibility feature designed for people who have difficulty holding down two or more keys at a time. When a shortcut requires a key combination such as CTRL+P, StickyKeys will enable you to press one key at a time instead of pressing them simultaneously.
FilterKeys: You can set Windows to ignore keystrokes that occur in rapid succession, or keystrokes that are held down for several seconds unintentionally.
Bounce Keys: If you bounce your fingers on keys inadvertently, Bounce Keys will ignore repeated keystrokes until some time has passed. You choose the time period.
Repeat Keys and Slow Keys: The computer will ignore brief keystrokes according to the time limits you set.
[Note: if your keyboard issue is not related to “Accessibility Options”, you may find additional troubleshooting answers in the Comments section (below). Also, this article may be more appropriate: What To Do When Your Mouse Plays Dead. Or Your Keyboard.]
To access these Options and turn them off or on, go to your Control Panel– click Start >Settings >Control Panel >Accessibility Options.
By default it opens to the keyboard tab. If you are experiencing a sudden onset of bizarre typing behavior, your first step is to visit here and ensure that there are no checks in the three checkboxes, which indicates these Options are in use.
I mentioned that shortcuts ‘activate’ these features — such as Tab+Enter, and a couple of Alt+a letter— and so you may have turned them on unintentionally.
If you do have some difficulty with your typing, such as happens when a Mr. Arthur Itis comes to visit, or/and if you have tremors, here is where you can enable these aids and tweak their settings to get the most benefit from them. Click on the “Settings” button to see the choices. Below is the FilterKeys Settings dialogue.
In the case mentioned, my client had first held down the Shift key long enough to activate FilterKeys (because a finger “rests” there). The lady was an extremely fast typist, and this setting ignored her strokes as being too short. Since she has no use for this tool, I recommended that she uncheck the top checkbox and disable the activating shortcut.
This screenshot shows the settings for StickyKeys, and unless you have trouble holding down more than one key at the same time — such as Ctrl+Alt+Del to activate Task Manager — I suggest you uncheck the top checkbox here as well.
For more on the keyboard Accessibility Options, click here.
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• About Tech Paul
I am a (semi)-Retired CompTIA Certified computer & network technician, and the owner of Aplus Computer Aid. I have been building/fixing networks and computers since Windows 95 was the new kid on the block.
I have regularly posted how-to’s and tricks & tips and general computing advice here since 2007. (Use the Search tool to find answers.) Sometimes I answer (your) specific questions in an article if I believed the answer is generally helpful to “everyone”. All the writing you see is my own, typos and all. There is an implied “IMHO” in what you see here.
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