Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

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.
aokeybrd.jpg
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.
filterkeysets.jpg
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.

sksettings.jpg
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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October 24, 2007 - Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, keyboards and mice, PC, privacy, tech, Windows | , , ,

294 Comments

  1. my keyboard decided to quit working after a grandson installed a hunting game which require use of the shift key to move the hunter…I have tried to remove stickykeys through the control panel and have been most unsuccessful what else can I do?

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by sharon | March 11, 2008

  2. Boys and their games, eh?!

    Well, Sharon, I’m not sure what you mean by “quit working”, and why you decided that its behavior best resembles the StickyKeys effect/option (I would have to take a look-see to find what’s really going on) but:
    The general guidelines for troubleshooting suggest that you uninstall the game, and see if that restores your functionality. (If you just did something, and it messes things up.. UN-do it.)
    You might also use System Restore to revert your settings back to a point in time before the keyboard started malfunctioning. (https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/06/19/my-favorite-life-saver-flavor-system-restore/)
    If the keyboard is attached via a USB cable sometimes simply unplugging it, counting to 5, and re-plugging it in again will correct weirdnesses. Similarly, if you are using a wireless keyboard, changing the batteries will fix little glitches (it is possible the game install is not related).

    If those tips do not help you, visit my (business) website and click the link for the free diagnosis. Sometimes all it takes is an experienced eye. http://aplusca.com

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by techpaul | March 11, 2008

  3. so i was playing World of Warcraft earlier tonight when my escape key decided to stop working. it has happened before but i dont remember how i fixed it. the caps lock key and the F-lock key soon followed, i believe it has something to do with sticky keys but cant figure out how to reset everything back to normal. some help would greatly be appreciated so i dont have to buy a new keyboard tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Daniel | April 26, 2008

  4. Daniel–
    It sounds to me more like a dirt & wear problem than FilterKeys, BounceKeys, or StickyKeys.. (hardware, not software)
    But, follow the advice above to uncheck the “Use shortcut to enable..” checkboxes to disable the features, just to make sure.
    Then read https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/repost-keyboard-maintenance/ to learn the maintenance steps for getting more life from your old keyboard. (*the last trick may be your best bet.)

    Like

    Comment by techpaul | April 27, 2008

  5. Pierre–
    If I understand your unusual request correctly, you might find ASCII Code Generator useful http://www.download.com/ASCII-Code-Generator/3000-2383_4-10116298.html?tag=pub&cdlPid=10116299 but, this is written for Windows 98 (the Windows 9x series– Win 95, 98, ME) it will probably work on all Windows platforms.

    I have to ask.. what do you need this ability for?

    Like

    Comment by techpaul | June 23, 2008

  6. I spilled some juice on my laptop and now a few keys do not work. So I cleaned it but the keys still do not work.

    Like

    Comment by Ed | June 25, 2008

  7. Ed–
    The article above contains a link to my article on cleaning, and maintaining keyboards. Here it is again, https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/repost-keyboard-maintenance/
    This article https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2008/05/17/digital-device-water-oh-no/
    deals more with spills.

    Like

    Comment by techpaul | June 26, 2008

  8. On my laptop, when I’m trying to scroll to a location of a file lower on display, it immediately zipped back to the top of the list of files.
    Also, the scrolling is extremely slow in other programs and on the internet. I’ve tryed using a canister of compressed air to blow out any trash. Wasn’t the problem.
    Help,
    Gloria

    Like

    Comment by Glo | October 4, 2008

  9. Glo–
    You’re right; that would only help you if you were using the PgDn key to scroll, and there was some gunk under there that prevented full key depression.

    If you are using a touchpad to scroll, you might want to install the latest drivers, and see if that doesn’t cure your machine’s misbehavior. Click on my “Device drivers” category to see my articles on installing drivers, if you need guidance.
    (Most touchpad software is by Synaptics.)

    And although this is a rare symptom, it may be an indicator of malware. I would suggest you visit Trend Micro’s Housecall and run a scan.

    As a Repair Tech, I can say that the type of behavior you’re describing is unusual, and I would want to take a look at your machine. If your laptop is still under warranty, you might want to let the manufacturer’s Live Support have a look (and if it isn’t, take it it to a qualified Tech.. not some MegaElectronic store’s tech dept.)

    Like

    Comment by techpaul | October 4, 2008

  10. Hello Tech Paul,

    I have this strange problem with my brand new keyboard.
    While every key seems to be working well as a unit, when I try some specific combinations, the keyboard does not respond. For instance, if I press & hold the down+right arrow keys, these four keys: “q”,”w”,”j” and “k” are not responding. The rest keys respond perfectly, so I assume that this is not a “number of simultaneously pressed keys” issue.

    Anyway, you can imagine how annoying is this especially in games that you need to use the directional and letter keys as well… Do you have any idea of what causes this kind of problem?

    Like

    Comment by maratsos | January 14, 2009

  11. Maratsos–
    “q”,”w”,”j” and “k” are not responding. The rest keys respond perfectly
    Hmmm…
    First, follow the steps in this article to make sure that NO “Accessibility Options” are enabled (as shown in the first image).. that is, no checkbox is checked.
    Then, make sure you have the latest device driver from the manufacturer’s website installed.
    While you’re on the keyboard manufacturer’s website, look on the FAQ and/or Support page for a description of this issue.
    If these things don’t clear up the problem, contact the manufacturer. It may be you have a slight defect..

    Like

    Comment by techpaul | January 14, 2009

  12. My wireless keyboard started to act weird today. It typing the letter x repeatedly. I changed batteries and check all of the obvious things. Even if i tried to back space it would just move forward with a row of x’s.

    Thanks

    Like

    Comment by CPG | February 11, 2009

    • Folks–
      When asking for free troubleshooting advice, it is good manners to provide some basic details.. The norm is to at least provide the operating system XP/Vista/Mac/etc.. and also when it is a device that’s misbehaving, the make/model.

      CPG–
      That is kind of unusual behavior, isn’t it? First of all, the ‘Sticky Keys’ article is not for this kind of malfunction, but the link provided (2nd paragraph) is. Please follow the cleaning steps found there first. (You may have to remove the keycap).

      If that doesn’t resolve the issue, unplug the USB/base station, go into Device Manager, and uninstall the keyboard. Then reboot. When you are booted, and can see your Desktop, plug the USB back in. You should see a “Found new hardware” dialogue installing the keyboard’s driver.

      If that fails to resolve the issue.. I would need to ask you some questions before offering any further advice.

      Good luck.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | February 11, 2009

  13. THANK YOU!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by franny | March 17, 2009

    • Glad I could help.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | March 17, 2009

  14. thanks

    Like

    Comment by Anonymous | March 18, 2009

  15. many thanks,iam a one finger typest,and a slow one at that. i came across your website while searching for help for as you so nicely put it : bizarre typing “after reading keyboard accessibility options section , i went into check my settings,[ prior to your article i had never ventured into this area, too tech, for me }and sure enough there was a tick in the first box, i unclicked , problem solved. many thanks for your help will pass your site on to my friends thankyou

    Like

    Comment by patrick | April 6, 2009

    • Patrick,
      I thank you for taking the time to post this nice comment on my humble tech blog… Glad it helped you.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | April 6, 2009

  16. Thank you very much. I am able to type at regular speed now. Great job.

    Like

    Comment by Paul | April 29, 2009

    • Paul–
      I’m glad you found my site helpful.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | April 29, 2009

  17. To whom it may concern,
    I recently bought an eee pc laptop. When I turned it on today the keyboard was not working. I installed avg anti virus software yesterday so I thought this might have something to do with it. I uninstalled it but it still refused to work. Im confused with reguards to the problem. Its not old enough to be a dust or damage problem. Is there some way I might have locked the keyboard by mistake or is it an internal problem?

    Like

    Comment by JayB583 | May 18, 2009

    • Is it a Linux unit, or XP? Is it still under warranty?

      If it’s XP, you can try using System Restore (How To Use System Restore To Fix Windows to go back to a date when it was working.. and also look in Device Manager for your keyboard’s driver status.

      If you can find a USB keyboard, plug it in and see if it works. That will help in your troubleshooting.

      Sorry, though, I don’t troubleshoot Linux. The various User Forums are your best bet.

      PS– I don’t remember any instances I’ve run across where AVG caused a keyboard to stop working…

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | May 18, 2009

  18. my child was on the computer now whenever i press the space bar down it opens the search results page how do i make things normal?

    Like

    Comment by steven | July 24, 2009

    • Steven,
      Ew! N