How to use the keyboard with one hand in Windows XP

This page explains step-by-step how to set up Windows XP 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). StickyKeys enables you to select one key at a time.

Use the keyboard with one hand in Windows XP

StickyKeys operates in two modes: 'latched mode' and 'locked mode'. Any and all of the modifier keys (Shift, Ctrl and Alt) can be latched or locked in combination.

Tapping once on a modifier key (Shift, Ctrl or Alt) puts it into latched mode. The key pressed will be held down for you until you release the mouse button or press a key that is not a modifier key. If the StickyKeys sound features are enabled, you will hear a short low-beep/high-beep. When the next non-modifier key is pressed, the modifier key(s) will be released.

Tapping twice in succession on a modifier key (Shift, Ctrl or Alt) puts it into locked mode. If the StickyKeys sound features are enabled, you will hear a short low-beep/high-beep after the first tap and a single high beep after the second tap. Once a modifier key is locked, it stays locked until it is pressed a third time. (You can disable 'locked mode' while adjusting the StickyKeys settings, as described in Step 2 below.)

Step 1: Turn on StickyKeys

Open the 'Start' menu by clicking on the 'Start' button, or by pressing the Windows key or Ctrl + Esc.

Click on 'Control Panel', or press C until it is highlighted and then press Enter if necessary. (Note: in earlier versions of XP, you will need to click on 'Settings' or press S first.)

You need to be in Classic view. If you see the text 'Pick a category', as shown in Fig 1, click on 'Switch to Classic View' or press Tab until it is highlighted and then press Enter.

Fig 1Detail from Control Panel window

Double-click on 'Accessibility Options', or press A until it is highlighted and then press Enter, to open the 'Accessibility Options' window shown in Fig 2.

If it is not already selected, click on the 'Keyboard' tab, or press Ctrl + Tab to cycle through the tabs until it is selected.

Fig 2'Accessibility Options' window

Tick the box next to 'Use StickyKeys' by clicking on it, or press Alt + U to tick it.

If you don't want to customise the StickyKeys settings, click 'OK' or press Enter to exit the 'Accessibility Options' window.

Step 2: Customise StickyKeys

To customise your settings, click on the 'Settings' button under the 'StickyKeys' header, or press Alt + S, to open the 'Settings for StickyKeys' window shown in Fig 3.

Fig 3'Settings for StickyKeys' window

To use the keyboard shortcut to turn StickyKeys on and off when the SHIFT key is pressed 5 times, tick the box next to 'Use shortcut' or press Alt + U to tick the box. If you have the sound notiifications enabled, you will hear a rising siren tone when StickyKeys is turned on or off using this keyboard shortcut.

Under the 'Options' header, you can set it so that if you press a modifier key (Shift, Ctrl or Alt) 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 'Press modifier key twice to lock', or press Alt + P to tick it. If you would rather disable this 'locked mode' of StickyKeys, then make sure the box is not ticked.

You may want to change the settings so that StickyKeys will turn itself off if a modifier key (Shift, Ctrl or Alt), 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 StickyKeys off if two keys are pressed at once', or press Alt + T to tick it.

Some people do not like to have keyboard sounds, while others find them useful. Under the 'Notifications' header, you can turn feedback sounds on by ticking the box next to 'Make sounds when modifier key is pressed', or press Alt + M. To turn the sound off, make sure this box is unticked.

Tick the box next to 'Show StickyKeys status on screen', or press Alt + S, if you want a visual reminder that Sticky Keys is on. It will appear as three small boxes in the system tray near your clock, as shown in Fig 4.

Fig 4The 'three boxes' icon that shows StickyKeys is on

Click 'OK' or press Enter to return to the 'Accessibility Options' window shown in Fig 2. Click 'OK' or press Enter again to return to Windows.

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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