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.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (144) applies to Microsoft Word , , , , and .

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Assigning a Macro to a Keyboard Combination

Macros are a great way to expand what you can do with the data you place in Excel. You can make those macros even handier by ...

Discover More

Setting Page Margins

When getting ready to print your worksheet, you may want to take a moment to check what margins Excel will use on the ...

Discover More

Getting Word to Remember the Default Date and Time Format

One way to insert the current date into your document is to use the Date and Time dialog box. The Default button in the ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

MORE WORDTIPS (MENU)

Applying Bullets from the Keyboard

Most people use the toolbars to apply bullets to paragraphs. If you want to apply them using the keyboard, then you can do so ...

Discover More

Changing Characters on Keyboard Keys

Want to assign some fancy characters to keyboard keys for characters you seldom use? There are a couple of ways you can map ...

Discover More

Resetting All Shortcut Keys

At some point you might want to wipe out all the custom shortcut keys you've created in Word. This is easy to do by following ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)