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Disability Resources & Educational Services

Mac OS X: Sticky Keys

Mac OS X Snow Leopard Sticky Keys enables the user to enter key combinations by pressing keys in sequence rather than simultaneously. This will benefit users who are unable to press or have difficulty pressing shortcut key combinations.

Turning On Sticky Keys

By default, Sticky Keys may be turned on in the Universal Access panel of System Preferences:

  1. Chose Apple menu > System Preferences, and click Universal Access. (Alternatively, click on the System Preferences icon OS X System Preferences Icon in the dock.)

  2. Click on the Keyboard tab.

  3. Check the radio button labeled On in the Sticky Keys section (Figure 1).

  4. If desired, check the box labeled Press the Shift key five times to turn Sticky Keys on or off. This will allow you to enable or disable Sticky Keys using the shift key rather than via system preferences.

Screenshot of OS X Universal Access keyboard options

Figure 1. OS X Universal Access Keyboard options. Check the On radio button (circled above) to enable Sticky Keys.

How To Know That Sticky Keys is Working

By default, OS X will play a sound when enabling or disabling Sticky Keys and when a modifier key is pressed. Further, an overlay icon will be shown for each modifier key that is pressed. If the option to Show Universal Access status in the menu bar is enabled in the Universal Access system preferences, a marquee will appear next to the Universal Access icon in the menu bar stating that Sticky keys is on (Figure 2).

Screenshot of Sticky Keys On marquee in menu bar

Figure 2. Sticky Keys Marquee.

Turning Off Sticky Keys

To turn off Sticky Keys, check the Off radio button in the Sticky Keys section of the Universal Access system preferences. If the options to enable or disable Sticky Keys via the shift key was checked, pressing the shift key five times will also turn off Sticky Keys.

For More Information

To read more about Sticky Keys for OS X, click on the following links: