Sticky keys

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Sticky keys is an accessibility feature of some graphical user interfaces to assist users who have physical disabilities or help users reduce repetitive strain injury (or a syndrome called the Emacs Pinky). It serializes keystrokes instead of pressing multiple keys at a time, allowing the user to press and release a modifier key, such as Shift, Ctrl, Alt, or the Windows key, and have it remain active until any other key is pressed.

Sticky keys functionality is available on/in Microsoft Windows and macOS as Sticky Keys,[1][2] and on Unix/X11 systems as part of the AccessX utility.[3][4]


Sticky Keys was first introduced to Mac OS in System 6 as part of the Easy Access extension, which also included mouse keys functionality.[5]

In 1994, Solaris 2.4 shipped with the AccessX utility, which also provided sticky keys and mouse keys functionality.[6]

Microsoft introduced StickyKeys to the Windows platform in Windows 95.


On Windows, pressing the Shift key 5 times in short succession will pop up a window asking if you want to enable this feature. The feature can also be turned on and off via the Accessibility icon in the Windows Control Panel. To turn the feature off once enabled, press 3 or more of the Sticky Keys (Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Windows Button) at the same time.

To enable under Linux, BSD, and other Unix operating systems, run X server with the «+accessx» command line option and the XKB extension enabled, then press the ⇧ Shift key five times.[7]


Over the years, this feature has posed difficulties for users who use the Shift key heavily, such as gamers, because an activation popup will be placed above all other applications, disturbing their gameplay. This can be fixed by going into the control panel and going into the accessibility option and then disabling the shortcut option.


Sticky Keys makes an alert sound on Windows computers and laptops, but on Mac or Apple computers, it makes a quiet tapping sound. On Mac, Sticky Keys is pressed only once on the shift key.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Make the keyboard easier to use in Windows 7 - Windows Help". Microsoft. August 31, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  2. ^ "macOS Sierra: Use accessibility features". Apple Support. Apple Inc. September 23, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  3. ^ "The X Keyboard Extension: Protocol Specification" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-11-08.
  4. ^ Underwood, R. C. (September 10, 1999). "SGI AccessX".
  5. ^ Using Your Classic (PDF). Apple Inc. p. 146. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 12, 2002.
  6. ^ "About AccessX". Sun Microsystems Accessibility Program. Sun Microsystems. April 24, 2005. Archived from the original on August 17, 2007.
  7. ^ "15. Examples of use of loadkeys and xmodmap". Linux Documentation Project. Retrieved 2015-12-10.