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March 2nd, 2007
Holding down the Shift key too long (FilterKeys)

Today’s question is an interesting one. I was asked what in the world is going on when the shift key is hold down too long and the computer suddenly starts typing in all caps and the only way to get it to stop is to turn off the computer.

Well, although it’s not obvious and can make your computer appear as if it has developed a desire to make you insane, it’s actually because of the Accessibility Features that are built into Windows. These features are designed to make it easier for people with disabilities or problems to use the computer and have keyboard shortcuts (specific key sequences that will allow the user to turn them on or off without opening the Control Panel) assigned by default.

In this case, the feature being turned on is called “FilterKeys” and is intended to allow the operating system to ignore multiple uses of the same key in a very short period of time. The keyboard shortcut for FilterKeys is holding down the left shift key for eight seconds (or longer). Thus, if you are distracted and accidentally hold down the left shift key and activate FilterKeys, you may have no real idea what happened.

To turn FilterKeys back off, you can repeat the step of holding down the left shift key for eight seconds. However, if you do not actually need the feature, it’s often easier to turn off the keyboard shortcut so you do not automatically trigger it.

The steps to do this are:

  • Open the Start Menu
  • Double click on Control Panel
  • If you are not in Classic View (all icons are displayed), click on the “Switch to Classic View” in the left pane.
  • Double-Click on Accessibility
  • Click on the “Settings” button
  • Uncheck the box for “Use Shortcut”
  • Click on OK
  • Close the dialogue box
  • This will stop you from accidentally activating this accessibility option in the future!

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