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Sticky keys

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The StickyKeys confirmation dialog in Windows.

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 Microsoft Windows as StickyKeys, on macOS as Sticky Keys,[1] and on Unix/X11 systems as part of the AccessX utility.[2][3]



Sticky Keys was first introduced to Mac OS in System 6 as part of the Easy Access extension, which also included mouse keys functionality.[4]

In 1994, Solaris 2.4 shipped with the AccessX utility, which also provided sticky keys and mouse keys functionality.[5]

Microsoft introduced StickyKeys to the Windows platform in Windows 95.


To enable this shortcut, the Shift key must be pressed 5 times in short succession. This feature can also be turned on and off via the Accessibility icon in the Windows Control Panel.

To turn off once enabled, just simply press 3 or more of the Sticky Keys (Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Windows Button) at the same time.

Under OS Linux/BSD/etc run X server with «+accessx» command line option and XKB extension enabled, then press the ⇧ Shift key five times.[6]


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. The feature creates a vulnerability in some versions of Windows, enabling the recovery or replacement of the user password using a method known as a Sticky key attack.[7]


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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ "macOS Sierra: Use accessibility features". Apple Support. Apple Inc. September 23, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2015. 
  2. ^ "The X Keyboard Extension: Protocol Specification" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  3. ^ Underwood, R. C. (September 10, 1999). "SGI AccessX". 
  4. ^ Using Your Classic (PDF). Apple Inc. p. 146. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 12, 2002. 
  5. ^ "About AccessX". Sun Microsystems Accessibility Program. Sun Microsystems. April 24, 2005. Archived from the original on August 17, 2007. 
  6. ^ "15. Examples of use of loadkeys and xmodmap". Linux Documentation Project. Retrieved 2015-12-10. 
  7. ^ Bhatla, Akshay. "How to secure Computer from Sticky Key Attack ?". Retrieved 4 June 2017.