If you’re playing a game, editing a document, or doing anything that might cause you to hit the Shift key on your keyboard a few times, you’ll likely hear an annoying beep and see a message pop up talking about something called Sticky Keys.
Here’s a quick look at exactly what Sticky Keys is, why you probably don’t need it, and how you can turn this prompt off so that it never interrupts your work or play again.
What is Sticky Keys?
Sticky Keys is an important accessibility feature in many different operating systems, including macOS, most Linux distributions, and Windows. In the case of Windows, the steps in this article will cover Windows 10, but Sticky Keys has been part of the operating system since Windows 95.
As most Windows users know, keyboard shortcuts are useful (and in some cases required) commands that involve the user pressing multiple keys simultaneously. For example, pressing Control-Alt-Delete to log-in to certain versions of Windows, or Alt-F4 to close the active application window. For users with certain disabilities, however, it may be difficult or impossible to press multiple keys at once.
That’s where Sticky Keys comes in. As its name suggests, this feature allows the command of a modifier key — Shift, Control, Alt, or the Windows key — to “stick” for a short period of time, allowing the user to successfully input a multi-key shortcut by pressing one key at a time. While this makes it possible for users with disabilities to easily input keyboard shortcuts, Microsoft recognizes that it’s not desirable to leave Sticky Keys enabled all the time, as there are many cases in which a user would hit one of these modifier keys just once without the need to have the input “stick” while Windows waits for the additional key presses.
Therefore, Windows includes a handy shortcut to enable or disable Sticky Keys by hitting the Shift key five times in a row. It’s this action that most users inadvertently perform when they see the Sticky Keys prompt.
Disable Sticky Keys Shortcut
If you don’t need Sticky Keys, you can disable its shortcut entirely so that you won’t see this prompt appear if you rapidly press the Shift key in the future. To do so, we’ll need to modify an option in the Windows 10 Settings app. To get there, either click the message that appears in the Sticky Keys prompt (Disable this keyboard shortcut in Ease of Access keyboard settings), or open the Settings app and navigate to Ease of Access > Keyboard.
From there, find the Use Sticky Keys section on the right side of the window and uncheck the entry labeled Allow the shortcut key to start Sticky Keys. Once you’ve unchecked the option, simply close the Settings app. The change will take effect immediately without the need to save anything or reboot your PC.
To test it out, rapidly hit the Shift key at least five times on your keyboard. With the option disabled, nothing should happen. If you ever need to re-enable the Sticky Keys shortcut, simply return to the designated Settings page and check the box again. You can also use the toggle switch to turn Sticky Keys on full-time, although as mentioned, this may cause issues with certain apps or scenarios where a modifier key should be pressed only once.
Enable Sticky Keys Without the Warning
Looking at this issue from a different angle, if you plan to use Sticky Keys frequently and don’t want to see the warning prompt or hear the beep, head back to Settings > Ease of Access > Keyboard and scroll down to the bottom of the page on the right side of the screen.
There, you’ll find two options under Make it easier to type. Uncheck these options to turn off the warning message and sound when enabling Sticky Keys (or its related options, Toggle Keys and Filter Keys). You’ll just need to keep track of when you enable and disable the option to avoid unexpected input issues when using the modifier keys on your keyboard.
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