Having a hard time maneuvering your fingertips around multi-key combinations like CONTROL + ALT + DELETE (for launching the Windows Task Master) or COMMAND + SHIFT + N (to create a new Mac desktop folder)? Join the club.

Luckily, both Windows and Mac systems come with a handy feature called “sticky keys.” Turn the feature on, and you’ll be able to press individual keys in a two- or three-key combination one at a time, rather than all at once. It’s a clever alternative to playing “Twister” with your fingers.

sticky keys - Sticky keys on a Mac

You can set your Mac’s “sticky keys” feature to display pressed key combos on your desktop.

Ready to give sticky keys a try? Let’s get started.

For Mac:

  • First stop: System Preferences, which you’ll find under the Apple menu in the top-right corner of the screen. Under the “System” heading, select the “Accessibility” icon.
  • On the next screen, click “Keyboard” in the left column, then check the box next to the “Enable Sticky Keys” setting.
  • Click the “Options” button to customize how the “sticky keys” features works. For example, you can toggle sticky keys on and off by pressing the shift key five times in a row (recommended), as well as having your Mac make a sound and/or display the label for any “modifier” key (such as shift, control, or command) that you press.
sticky keys - Windows Sticky Keys setting

You can find your Windows PC’s “sticky keys” setting in the Control Panel.

For Windows 7 or 8:

  • Go to the Windows “Ease of Access” control panel; open the Start menu and type “Ease of Access” in the search box, or click Start, All Programs, Ease of Access, and Ease of Access Center.
  • Click the “Make the keyboard easier to use” link under “Explore all settings,” then check the “Turn on Sticky Keys” box.
  • Next, you can tweak your sticky keys settings by clicking the “Set up Sticky Keys” link. Among the options: turning sticky keys on and off by pressing the shift key five times in a row (same as on the Mac), playing a sound any time a “modifier” key is pressed,” and displaying the sticky keys icon in the Windows task bar.

Click here for more Mac tips, or click here for Windows help.