I'm having this annoying problem where Windows randomly seems to decide that I have the Windows key pressed down (even though I don't), and every key press will trigger an associated Windows key shortcut until I press the Windows key, which seems to reset it. I don't get any kind of pop up or notification when this happens. It might happen once or twice a day.

I'm using Windows 7 now, but I had the same problem with Windows Vista on the same computer (although less frequently). Since first posting this question, I've gotten a new computer (also Windows 7), and I'm still experiencing this issue. I've also encountered it with two separate keyboards. At work, on Windows XP, I've never had this issue.

This is not a keyboard problem: I recently upgraded my keyboard and it persists.

I've turned off every setting on the Windows Ease of Access Center for keyboards, including sticky keys, toggle keys, filter keys, and mouse keys. However, I wouldn't be surprised if one of these was getting triggered anyway.

What's going on here, and how do I stop it?

  • 2
    Have you ruled out Malware? Use at least 2 scanners to verify this, I like MBAM, and Super Antispyware.
    – Moab
    Dec 5, 2010 at 22:32
  • 1
    I've had this experience on almost every single Windows computer since (and including) XP. Either Alt, Shift, Ctrl or the Windows key will think it's pressed down, so I just work around it by pressing them twice, in order around the bottom left of my keyboard, and that resets it.
    – user3463
    Dec 6, 2010 at 1:33
  • I'm fairly sure it's not caused by malware. I've experienced this behavior on Vista and after a clean reinstall of Windows 7 on a brand new drive.
    – Kaypro II
    Dec 6, 2010 at 5:19
  • I most often have the same problem with the control key; it seems to happen in all Windows OSs. Usually I can fix it by pressing a shortcut key that involves the stuck key (e.g. Ctrl+C), or even just pressing and releasing the stuck key a couple of times.
    – Qwertie
    Jul 25, 2011 at 21:09

7 Answers 7


I'm pretty sure your keyboard is malfunctioning... if this is a desktop, try another keyboard. If its a laptop, try cleaning the keyboard, but the laptops keyboards are kind of fragile. I mean, if the keyboard hardware went bad, you have to replace it.

  • 1
    This problem has occurred with two keyboards, so I really don't think it's a keyboard hardware problem.
    – Kaypro II
    Dec 6, 2010 at 6:29
  • if this happende with XP and now with W7, its a hardware problem. As far as i know, there is no "intelligence" between the keyb and the computer hardware, its just a HID usb and the OS understands what to do. what i mean is, this doesnt make sense. The only thing i could think about is there is some utility/software you use and is causing this behavior. Dec 17, 2010 at 21:18
  • It could be a connector that's not all the way in
    – Cole Tobin
    Nov 26, 2012 at 21:05

Try turning the accessibility keyboard assistance tools (sticky keys et all) on, and then off again.


I'm having a similar problem... only I'm running Windows on a virtual drive inside a Linux laptop. I know it's not a hardware issue, because I have no problem when I pop out of the virtual drive into my real OS, but the Windows emulation is CONVINCED that I'm pressing down the alt key. Which is a tad inconvenient.

I don't have a long-term solution, because I don't know enough about Windows to work out what software could be causing the issue. In the meantime, when I notice it happening I'm just doing as suggested and tapping whatever key is "pressed down."

Not the best solution for you I imagine, but at least I can confirm it is distinctly a software issue.


This is actually a long standing bug in Windows. I have experienced it on many different systems at least since Windows XP, on many different hardware configurations.

It is solely a bug in Windows and has nothing to do with malware or failing hardware.

I have not figured out a fix for it, though it seems with newer versions of Windows, it has gotten rarer.

Sorry but you'll just have to stick it out. It can happen with shift, CTRL, or alt keys as well. When it happens, just press the key again and all will be well, until it happens again.


I got the same problem with Windows 8, after connecting through RDP. It has nothing to do with keyboard or other malware. It's a Microsoft bug.

The solution is to press a Windows key couple of times.


I discovered through recording a MultiKey Macro that my right Windows key was stuck.

My keyboard doesn't have a right Windows key.

I used KeyTweak to remap RWin to RCtrl so that if (when) it sticks again, I'll be able to release it.

(This is after a clean install of Windows 8.1. The problem was so bad, I had to start over.)


I think the usb port is sometimes losing keystrokes, in this case it lost the release of the windows key.

  • 1
    Do you understand how the USB protocol works and how keys are encoded through it at all?
    – Cole Tobin
    Nov 26, 2012 at 21:05

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