Strange Shift Key Behavior

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 4, 2013)

Lora Minton wrote about a problem that she noticed when using Word. It seems that if she holds down the Shift key too long, the program goes into what Lora describes as "a strange mode" and can only be reset if she restarts her computer.

The problem you are describing is actually built into Windows XP, and possibly some other versions of Windows. The problem isn't with Word, but with the accessibility settings you are using. Display the Control Panel, then double-click the Accessibility Options applet. The Accessibility Options dialog box opens, with the Keyboard tab displayed. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Keyboard tab of the Accessibility Options dialog box.

Note that the tab is divided into three sections: StickyKeys, FilterKeys, and ToggleKeys. For the problem observed with the Shift key, you are primarily interested in the sections for StickyKeys and FilterKeys. Click the Settings button in the FilterKeys area of the tab. The Settings for FilterKeys dialog box appears. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Settings for FilterKeys dialog box.

At the top of the dialog box you see the shortcut key that Windows uses to start up FilterKeys--that the right Shift key is held down for more than eight seconds. If you have a tendency to hold down the Shift key too long, and you don't want FilterKeys to start up, then clear the Use Shortcut check box and click OK.

You'll find a similar type of shortcut is used for StickyKeys. In the Keyboard tab of the Accessibility Options dialog box, click the Settings button in the StickyKeys area. Windows displays the Settings for StickyKeys dialog box. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. The Settings for StickyKeys dialog box.

At the top of the dialog box you can see what the shortcut key is to trigger StickyKeys: pressing the Shift key five times in a row. If this causes problems with how you type, clear the Use Shortcut check box and click OK. You can then close the Accessibility Options dialog box and use Windows (and Word) as you expect.

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Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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