What Is The Purpose Of Sticky Keys? (EXPLAINED)

Like every other functionality built into a computer, Sticky Keys have a function. When activated it allows users to continue to use a modifier key even after you have released it. 

A modifier key is a key on your keyboard that is used in conjunction with other keys to perform different functions. ‘Shift’ for example is a modifier key that you can use in conjunction with any alphabet key to write lowercase alphabets when the caps lock is turned on or vice versa.

Sticky keys are an accessibility feature on both Windows and Mac operating systems that were designed to improve the ease of use of the keyboard and reduce strain upon the fingers, hands and wrists. 

They are also particularly useful for people that are differently abled or have certain physical conditions that prevent them from pressing multiple keys at once. But a lot of people tend to just use sticky keys out of preference.

Picture of sticky keys prompt
Image by ekinyalgin on Canva Pro

What is the function of sticky keys?

Sticky Keys is part of the accessibility settings in both Windows and Mac operating systems. Designed to allow computer users to use modifiers like SHIFT, CTRL and ALT, etc. without the need to keep holding these buttons down. 

By default, all operating systems have Sticky Keys turned on and you can trigger it by pressing SHIFT 5 times without pressing any other key in between.

The sticky key can be really helpful in relieving some stress off your fingers. Especially if you use the keyboard a lot for things like work. It is also pretty suitable for people that are differently abled and have a hard time holding multiple keys at the same time. Instead, they can activate sticky keys and perform the same function.

For example, if you need to use the CTRL+ALT+DEL command, instead of holding three keys together you can activate sticky keys and press these keys one by one to activate the CTRL+ALT+DEL command. 

Sticky Keys can be annoying especially if you tend to press SHIFT a lot when on the computer. A lot of the time this issue is faced by people that play video games. Personally, they tend to crop up when I get frustrated at a laggy system and begin rapidly pressing keys that are slow to respond.

How to disable sticky keys?

If you have decided that sticky keys are something that you don’t want to use, then you can easily disable them. This way sticky keys won’t interfere with your regular work if you accidentally press SHIFT 5 times.

Follow these steps to disable sticky keys:

For Windows 11 and Windows 10

  • Open the settings application and go into the accessibility section
  • In the accessibility section, look for the Keyboard on the right-hand side of the screen
  • In the keyboard section, the Sticky Keys on and off toggle button will be displayed at the top
  • Toggle this button off
  • This should turn off your sticky keys

For MacOS

  • Got to Apple Menu and then system preferences and selected universal access
  • In the universal access section, look for the keyboard tab and select that
  • In the keyboard tab, at the top, you will see the option to turn sticky keys on or off
  • Select the off option to disable sticky keys

Round up

Sticky Keys, while annoying for people that don’t use them, have an important function to serve. They allow users to perform modifier key functions but without the need to hold down multiple keys at once.

Instead, you can just press and release the modifier key after the sticky key is enabled and perform the desired function.

Sticky Keys weren’t just made with convenience in mind, in fact for some users like differently-abled people, sticky keys are absolutely necessary. Without sticky keys, they may not be able to properly use modifiers.

And if you are someone that doesn’t need sticky keys and wishes to turn them off, the process is only a few clicks away.

Sticky Keys is one of those features that not everyone needs, but for those who do, they can’t work without it.


Before you go…

Keyboard keys can be made sticky by more than just keyboard shortcuts. Accidents happen and it’s good to be prepared so take a mental note of the main points mentioned in the following articles. You won’t regret it.

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