I have had this issue now with two computers and I cannot find anything that is causing it.

  • I disabled sticky keys.
  • I replaced the keyboard
  • I replaced the operating system
  • I replaced the entire computer

Yet, the problem keeps coming back. If I press the Ctrl a few times it will go away. However, if I press S it will act like I pressed Ctrl+S though usually it is the scroll wheel that is when I get most annoyed as in a web browser, rather than scrolling, it will zoom in and out.

I am in an active directory domain which is the only common denominator between this computer and the previous, though the previous one also had Window key getting "stuck" as well so if I pressed D, the desktop will show as everything will minimise.

Anything you can think of that can assist me in going in the right direction is greatly appreciated. Since it now a brand new computer with brand new keyboard where I just copied over my profile.

I have yet to try this with a different login to see if it is profile specific, but since it is so sporadic it is hard to tell.

  • Perhaps you have some accessibility setting enabled that makes the Ctrl key act as a toggle instead of a key that you have to hold? edit: oops, that's sticky keys I'm thinking of Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 18:48
  • But what is weird it is intermittent. I will be sitting here reading a website for example, not touching the keyboard once, and I scroll down using the scroll wheel and it starts zooming. If I press control key a few times, it will stop happening, or eventually it will just go away on its own. The fact I replaced the computer and the keyboard makes it much more confusing to diagnose. I really need to try a different profile to see if it happens there as well as it is the only thing that can be considered the same. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:34
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    Do you have anything that could be interfering with your keyboard? If it's a wired keyboard, you could be getting crosstalk from a nearby wireless device or even another cable (especially a poorly secured one). If it's wireless keyboard, it could mean something else broadcasting on the same frequencies or something. (this is a bit of a shot in the dark, but intermittent issues tend to be caused by hardware rather than software) This would especially make sense if your replacement keyboard is the same exact model as the original keyboard. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:41
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    I also resolved this issue by disconnecting/reconnecting my Dell USB KB522 keybaord.
    – Kelbizzle
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 17:33
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    I have this problem too; and I have Autohotkey installed (with one line script) and I'm using TeamViewer... not sure if any of those programs could cause it.
    – Tomas
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 13:27

5 Answers 5


Generic fix for this generic issue: press stuck key or Ctrl+Alt+Del, Esc.

Symptoms: This issue is not limited to Ctrl, but can occur with any other modifier key (Shift, Alt, Win).

Recovery: Most of the time, Ctrl+Alt+Del re-sets key status to normal if this is happening. (Then press Esc to exit system screen.)
Another method: You can also press stuck key: so if you clearly see that it is Ctrl which got stuck, press and release both left and right Ctrl. This allows system to see key press and release events (again) and thus detect correct status of these keys.

Cause: This occurs when the operating system did not notice releasing a key. But what can make the operating system not noticing a key release? I guess the answer to this can be very tricky and almost undiscoverable, because it might easily originate in subsystem seemingly non-related to keyboard. For example, badly written driver for some hardware creates a delay during which Windows skips the detection of released key. This is difficult to answer and could be very difficult to debug.

Scope: I have also seen this on many various computers, regadless of model or make. From my observation, this was not common up to Windows 7, but became more common in Windows 8 and 10. If the above recovery works, do not suspect your hardware, it is typically a software issue.

Note: If you have connected multiple keyboards, Ctrl+Alt+Del has to be pressed on the keyboard which has the key stuck. Pressing it on the other keyboard does not reset state of the stuck key.

  • "But what can make the operating system not noticing a key release?": Wireless Keyboard with a low battery? Thank you for your Ctrl+Alt+Del, that worked magic. I have been having this issue with my wireless keyboard lately. Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 9:27
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    @K.Davis – wireless devices are a good catch. I forgot to mention them because I'm using wired keyboard. But the above problem is present with wired keyboards, too.
    – miroxlav
    Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 14:47
  • Nearly 5 years later and the "press both control keys" just saved the day. Wired keyboard, was going absolutely nuts because nothing would allow me to use the control key again. I just hadn't hit both of them simultaneously!
    – JVC
    Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 23:23
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    @JVC – Thank you for the feedback. If I understand the mechanism of how key presses are registered, pressing the keys either one by one or simultaneously should have the same effect. The point is to include all possible keys. For example, using two keyboards with standard layout, you have 4 Ctrl keys and you need to press each of them to cover 100% of cases of stuck Ctrl key.
    – miroxlav
    Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 19:27

I found the solution because I got this issue with different laptop and for each one the fix is different. I have found the cause because of software conflict that is some software trying to use your keyboard at the same time making the ctrl key stuck.

For temporary fix you can try each of the following to see which one will work for your laptop:

  1. Press both ctrl at the same time
  2. Press both ctrl + alt at the same time (Dell 1545 worked)
  3. Press both ctrl + shift + alt at the same time
  4. Press both ctrl + shift + alt at the same time including the Fn key (Lenovo)

If it still does not work, opening the on-screen keyboard from control panel can temporarily unlock the ctrl key

However for a permanent fix, I downloaded SharpKeys and disable the Right Control, this has solved the problem. So you should find which of the two ctrl keys is causing the problem and disable one of them using this software. It should work. Else you may have to disable both and use on screen keyboard if you need the control key.

  • This always work for me, nice one @Guvin! Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 10:20
  • This works for me, but I cannot understand why... Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 8:45

Just pressing the Fn key helped get me out of the issue. It's an odd thing to get stuck in and frustrating to get out of. I tried the other things like pressing right click and left click, all that. None of that worked except for the Fn key.

Works on Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Windows 8.1.

Hope this helps!


None of the existing solutions works for me. I figured out another approach.

If your mouse or keyboard is programmable or is able to send out key combinations, un-plug and re-plug it.

The issue usually happens when I use Roccat mouse and AutoHotkey, and I pressed or swiped multiple programmed buttons. I think the memory state of the mouse goes off, or AutoHotkey goes off.


I moved my wireless router and vonage transmitter for wireless phones 4 feet away and reconnected my keyboard after re-installing batteries in keyboard. Problem solved for Logitech wireless keyboard.

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