Windows

Quick Tip: Disable the Sticky and Filter Keys in Windows

While accessibility features are terrific for those who need them, they can be annoyance for those who don't.

Microsoft Windows includes several very beneficial accessibility options that are critically important to those users who need them. However, some of those accessibility features can be a minor annoyance to users who do not need them.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download. It was originally published in March 2011.

For example, in Windows 7, press the left-Shift key five times in quick succession. You should see a dialog blog like the one shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Open the Sticky Keys dialog box.

For some, the ability to enable Sticky Keys is vital for proper interaction with the computer and the operating system, but for nervous editors like me, who often click the Shift key five or more times trying to think of the proper word or turn of phrase, it can be plain annoying.

The good news is that you can turn it off with a one-time journey into the depths of the Control Panel and a few clicks of the mouse in the right spots.

Turn it off

If the Sticky Keys dialog box is still on the screen, click the link in the box; otherwise navigate to the Control Panel (Figure B) and click the Ease of Access entry.

Figure B

Click Ease of Access.
On the next screen (Figure C), you should click on the Change how Your Keyboard Works link to reach the screen shown in Figure D.

Figure C

Change how your keyboard works.

Figure D

Make the keyboard easier to use.

By default, under the Make It Easier to Type section, most of the items should be unchecked. However, that does not prevent Windows from asking if you want to turn on the features if you happen to press the correct keyboard sequence. To turn off the dialog box and thus relieve the annoyance, you will have to dig a bit deeper.

Click on the Set Up Sticky Keys link to reach the configuration screen shown in Figure E.

Figure E

Set up Sticky Keys.

On this screen, you want to uncheck the Turn on Sticky Keys when SHIFT Is Pressed Five Times box. That will prevent Windows from asking if you want to turn the feature on.

Turn this off too

A related feature is called Filter Keys, which is triggered when you hold the right-Shift key down for eight seconds. You can turn this feature off by clicking the Set Up Filter Keys link found on the screenshot shown in Figure D.

Uncheck the Turn on Filter Keys when Right SHIFT Is Pressed for 8 Seconds box, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Turn on Filter Keys when right-Shift is pressed for eight seconds.

Bottom line -- relief

By unchecking those two boxes, assuming you do not need these accessibility features, you should eliminate two minor Windows annoyances from ever popping up unwanted again.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

14 comments
ElCidTx
ElCidTx

Mark, you're a lifesaver.  Thanks for the fix! 

notbobsaget
notbobsaget

microsoft sticky keys are fucking the reason you know microsoft developers smoke crack and eat it too

chandanc9
chandanc9

Thanks a lot.. I use VI editor and need to press shift keys frequently 

Ma'am K.
Ma'am K.

Does anyone actually need them?thank you so much!!you've saved a life

barry.brown2006
barry.brown2006

Of all the Windows systems I have installed including XP and Win7 I have never had to turn these features off. They are off in every case and If I want them, I have to turn them on.

stapleb
stapleb

They are a problem, but if you are aware of them, the good old Esc key can get rid of dialogue boxes you don't want. I frequently press the Windows key, say something "meaningful" to it to relieve my frustration, and then just press it again. I have frequently been told "patience is a virtue" so I'm working on it! After all that, I have turned off the sticky keys as it was just too annoying. So, thank you for again reminding us that we do still have SOME control.

maj37
maj37

It works pretty much the same in XP and has been an annoyance. I tend to push the right shift key and hold it trying to think of what I wanted to press along with it, then the box pops and I have to deal with it. maj

danson
danson

Your initial statement in this piece is that sticky keys is critically important for some, and a minor annoyance for you, so here's how to turn it off. What you forgot to say (and which is critical) is that you should only turn off accessibility features on a personal computer that no one else ever needs to use. Without that qualification, people will unthinkingly turn off the keyboard activation in libraries, schools, and other settings where, in removing this minor annoyance for themselves, they have locked some people out of the system entirely. This is a sensitive topic for me since I led the battle to assure that the accessibility features are installed and active by default in the development of Windows 95. Having the possibility of access for people with disabilities doesn't do much good if the fact of access is denied because you fiddle with keyboards other than your own.

Juanita Marquez
Juanita Marquez

Since your poll showed most use XP, here are some I use...in the My Computer properties, I set my own RAM levels and also don't allow Windows to control the efficiency. I have found that when Windows makes that determination for itself, frequently the user will find that their system is inefficient. Instead of setting it to the "most efficient" setting, I'll combine a few of the visual effects to allow it to look nice while allowing it to give the apps a little more oomph in function. For some reason, people never think to make these and other changes (as well as the one in the article) on the base image. I am always surprised when the little tweaks I make have to be repeated across various users when a minor change on the image would be far more efficient when deploying the machines.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I have identified and shown you how to avoid two minor Windows annoyances, but there are many others. What minor Windows annoyances do you find yourself running into ??? how have you reduced them?

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

Agreed. The idiots that create the images at my TAFE, [b]always[/b] leave "Hide extensions for known file types" selected. :( They also seem to be incapable of including browser links to the TAFE websites!

paladin41k
paladin41k

When using the mouse wheel, rather than scroll the screen bounces up and down. Eventually I give up and use the scroll bar to the side of an open window. How can I remedy that?

theolog
theolog

I am often finding that the two menu keys with the MS flag on them are a key annoyance for me. I find that when my short stubby fingers are looking for the CNTL key, I hit those pesky menu keys, disrupting my keyboarding. Can I get rid of them?

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