How to use the keyboard with one hand in Windows Vista

This page explains step-by-step how to set up Windows Vista so that you can use the keyboard with one hand. Some commands require a number of keys to be held down at the same time (for example, Ctrl + Alt + Delete). Sticky Keys enables you to select one key at a time.

Note: The 'Ease of Access Center' has replaced 'Accessibility Options' (which was used in earlier versions of Windows) in the 'Control Panel' of Windows Vista. For more information, read the Introduction to the Ease of Access Center.

Video how to guide

Text version

Using the keyboard with one hand in Windows Vista

Use the keyboard with one hand in Windows Vista

Step 1: Turn on Sticky Keys

Open the 'Ease of Access Center' window by pressing the Windows key + U, or by clicking the 'Start' button, followed by 'Control Panel', then 'Ease of Access', then 'Ease of Access Center'.

Under the 'Explore all settings' header, click on 'Make the keyboard easier to use' or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter.

Under the 'Make it easier to type' header, tick the box next to 'Turn on Sticky Keys' by clicking on it or by pressing Alt + R.

Step 2: Customise Sticky Keys

To customise your settings, click on 'Set up Sticky Keys', or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter, to open the 'Set up Sticky Keys' window (Fig 1).

Fig 1'Set up Sticky Keys' window

The box next to 'Turn on Sticky Keys' should be ticked. If it is not, click on it or press Alt + R to tick it.

You can now activate the shortcut that allows you to turn Sticky Keys on and off using the keyboard. Tick the box next to 'Turn on Sticky Keys when SHIFT is pressed five times', or press Alt + K to tick it, as shown in Fig 2.

Fig 2Detail from 'Set up Sticky Keys' window

Tick the box next to 'Display a warning message when turning a setting on', or press Alt + M, if you want this feature enabled.

Tick the box next to 'Make a sound when turning a setting on or off', or press Alt + A, if you want this feature enabled.

Under the 'Options' header (Fig 3), you can set it so that if you press the Ctrl, Alt, Shift or Windows key twice in a row, the key remains active until you press the same key for a third time. To select this option, tick the box next to 'Lock modifier keys when pressed twice in a row', or press Alt + L to tick it.

Fig 3Detail from 'Set up Sticky Keys' window

You may want to change the settings so that Sticky Keys will turn itself off if the Ctrl, Alt, Shift or Windows key, plus another key, are pressed at the same time (for example, Ctrl + S to save). This is useful if you share your computer with another user. To activate this option, tick the box next to 'Turn off Sticky Keys when two keys are pressed at once', or press Alt + O to tick it.

Under the 'Notifications' header (Fig 4), tick the box next to 'Play a sound when keys are pressed', or press Alt + Y, if you want this feature enabled.

Fig 4Detail from 'Set up Sticky Keys' window

Tick the box next to 'Display the Sticky Keys icon on the task bar', or press Alt + I, if you want this feature enabled.

Click the 'Save' button, or press Alt + S, to save your changes.

Note: If this does not work it could be because your computer settings cannot be changed due to local IT policies - contact your local IT support for further help.

Back to How to guides - I find a keyboard or mouse hard to use

More ways to: Make your keyboard easier to use

Change the keyboard settings on your computer

Control the pace of repeated keystrokes and avoid miss-keys

Turn on and customise the on-screen keyboard

Use a mouse or other pointing device instead of a keyboard

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