How do I stop repeating characters when I type?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on November 20, 2000 12:00 AM

Question

I am having trouble with my keyboard repeating letters when I am typing. For instance, my N key will cause words like “name” to become “nnnnname”! Is there anything that I can do or is it time for a new keyboard?

-Anna

Answer

This question was answered on November 20, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Repeating letters when typing seems to happen to all of us, from time to time. Depending upon the frequency, it may just need to be cleaned or you may simply be able to make some adjustments to your system before deciding to replace it.

To clean out all the dust, food and general muck that accumulates in all keyboards (well, maybe not food!), turn off your computer then flip your keyboard over in the air and shake it. In most cases, you will see a shower of dust and particles falling out. Next, set the keyboard on its side (the long way) and tilt it slightly so that the keys are pointing down. Gently brush your hand over all of the keys in a swiping motion to allow any other trapped particles to move around. If you have a can of compressed air (never use a cleaning spray of any type on your keyboard!), blow around the keys to loosen any particles that are trapped under the keys. Finish by flipping the keyboard over again and shaking any remaining particles out.

If cleaning has no effect on your “lazy keys” the problem could be a “lazy finger”. Depending upon the age of the computer (and your finger), it may be interpreting your finger tap as multiple strokes. Windows has an option in the Control Panel that allows you to adjust the delay interval and rate at which a key will repeat when pressed down. To access this utility, click on Start, Settings, Control Panel, then double-click on the Keyboard icon. The default setting for the “Repeat delay” is short, which may cause repeating characters if your finger is held down too long. Slide the bar to the left to increase the amount of delay the keyboard uses before deciding to repeat the key. You can also slow down the rate, which will reduce the number of repeated characters that will appear before you lift your finger from the keyboard. Be sure to test your new settings by clicking into the white box provided for testing and holding down the keys that were acting up. These settings only apply to when you press and hold down a key, so it will not affect your typing when you tap twice for a word that requires repeating characters. (Anyone that would like to change the cursors blink rate can also do so from this screen.)

If all of the above methods do not yield an obedient keyboard, it may be time to replace it. But, before you go out and buy a new keyboard, try to borrow one from a friend to test with. If you really want to be thorough, use your keyboard on your friends system to see if the repeating keys follow the keyboard or stay with the machine. If you decide to buy a new keyboard, be sure to look at the plug to know which type of interface you will need. Older systems use the larger round “DIN” plug, while newer systems use the smaller PS/2 connector or in some cases the new USB interface. If you are not sure, take your old keyboard with you when you buy your new keyboard.

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on November 20, 2000

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