My mac thinks the option key is always held down

Malamen

Registered
Hello all,

I've got a serious problem.

One of my client's MAC "thinks" the ALT key is always held down. I know it's not a keyboard problem because she trade keyboards and the problem remains.

It's a pain because when she tries to close a window, they all close. And she got issues with the software she's working too.

I've run out of ideas and don't know what else to do. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Rui
 

DeltaMac

Tech
Is the Option/Alt key actually registering as "down"?
Is that reflected in the Keyboard Viewer?
Does your client's Mac (not MAC) register the Option key properly in a different user account?
Make a new account just to test that...
 

Malamen

Registered
Hmmm... Really didn't try to see in the Keyboard Viewer. All the key combinations she tries work as if the Option/Alt key is presses down. If she restarts the Mac, it works fine for about ten minutes or so. Then it seems like the Option/Alt key is down again.
Haven't tried with a different user. I'll talk her through that and post the results here.

Thanks for the quick response.
Rui
 

DeltaMac

Tech
It's also probably a good idea to check in Universal Access prefs. Make sure that "Sticky Keys" is not enabled, for example.
 

Malamen

Registered
Hello, my client is working on 10.6.8 and she's now trying to work with a new user account. "Unfortunately" the problem wasn't there when she bring the Keyboard Viewer on, so I couldn't know if it shows the Alt key down or not.

As soon I got some news, I'll came here to ask new advice or to say problem solved.

Thanks,
Rui
 

Malamen

Registered
Hi,

Still having that problem, even with a new user account.
I still don't know if Alt key shows down in Keyboard Viewer though.

Any ideas?

Thanks,
Rui
 

DeltaMac

Tech
What prevents you from verifying the keyboard in the Keyboard Viewer? That can tell you a lot!
For example, if the Alt/Option key is not depressed in the Keyboard Viewer, yet you get results that show the Alt key is being used, then there's some other software issue - such as a utility that provides settings that allow the Alt/Option key to be used through software.

Wired keyboard, or wireless?

Go into the hard drive, then the Library folder. That would be the main Library, and not the user's library.
Open the Preferences folder in that main Library, and trash a few files:
com.apple.BezelServices.plist (Lion or newer will also have a second file by that name, with .lockfile added. Trash that one, too
Also, trash com.apple.keyboardtype.plist (there's probably a second file there, too)

After trashing those files, those are system-wide preferences, so restart that Mac.
If that does not fix the problem, then you need to test with a third keyboard, which you should test that the problem does not exist on a different Mac - or, alternatively, test the user's keyboard on another Mac.

What prevents you from verifying the keyboard in the Keyboard Viewer? That can tell you a lot!
For example, if the Alt/Option key is not depressed in the Keyboard Viewer, yet you get results that show the Alt key is being used, then there's some other software issue - such as a utility that provides settings that allow the Alt/Option key to be used through software.
I'm thinking that an out-of-control keyboard would leave the Mac almost unusable, and be really annoying to the client.

Or - is the client using a non-Apple keyboard, where the command and Alt keys are reversed by default? That keyboard would have a Windows key, eh?
 

Malamen

Registered
I'm in England and my client is in Germany.

The problem is not always there. Last time I login with Team Viewer it was fine, that's why I could't see if the key showed down in Keyboard viewer, but after a while it returned.

She's using an iMac with a wired keyboard.

I'll try to do what you advised. What do you think about a SMC reset?

Thanks,
Rui
 

DeltaMac

Tech
SMC reset won't hurt anything (but probably won't fix an issue like that, either.)

Is this wired keyboard an Apple-brand keyboard, or something else?

_Just a thought_
I supported a Mac several years ago, with a somewhat similar keyboard issue. Remoting in did not see the issue, ever. The customer had the keyboard in a tray (sort of a channel) with a document holder attached. We would swap the keyboard, and fix the problem, which would return after a few hours, or a couple of days. The customer was doing a lot of re-typing, with a stack of paper on the document holder.
When I was there, nothing in the document holder. Maybe you can see where this is going :D The customer would let the pile of docs grow, and there would be enough weight to touch one or more keys on the keyboard, and things got "goofy". The problem then was simple to fix, but needed a second pair of eyes to look for issues that the customer looked at every day, but just didn't "see".
I don't know if you would have an issue like that, but - it's worth asking about, I think.
Does your client use a trackpad? or a mouse? I've seen folks inadvertently brush a finger across a magic trackpad, without even realizing it.
 

Malamen

Registered
Yes, is an Apple brand Keyboard. She uses it with a Wacom tablet.

Today she told me that a few days ago (she didn't remember that before) the Option key symbol showed up very big on her screen.

I'll try to do what you advised tomorrow.

Thanks for all your help so far.
Rui
 

DeltaMac

Tech
Ah, OK, the on-screen Option key symbol can be turned on (and off) in Universal Access pane.
Please have your client go back to Universal Access pane, and double-check that Sticky Keys is OFF.
With Sticky Keys on, and then press Option twice, That modifier (Option) is locked ON, and all keypresses after that show (on) ∂ø*†˙ˆß*–*(off) not this
I did not realize, until just now, that you can lock the Option modifier key on. In fact, any modifier key can be locked on simply by quickly pressing that key twice. Press again (for the third press), and the modifier key is back to normal.
That's how Sticky Keys is supposed to function.
And, also, there's an option that toggles sticky keys ON (or OFF) if you press shift 5 times.

So, absolutely, look at Universal Access once more...
I'm hoping that is the issue.
 

perfection

Registered
I have the same problem on my MacBook Pro, 15" 2018.

For me it takes a day or two before this problem arises. I have confirmed that all relevant accessibility options is turned off.

The keyboard viewer looks normal, the problem is that if I manually hold down the option key (after a restart and before the problem comes back) while opening System Prefs > Keyboard > Input sources it looks normal to, despite me still holding the option key.

I have to release option and press it again to see the alternative keyboard layout.

Is there another clever way of finding out if my system registers a constant options down?
 

DeltaMac

Tech
Not sure what you mean by "looks normal"?
The option key should show highlighted (key pressed) when you press the key, then release when YOU release the key
You have two Option keys.
When your keyboard viewer is displayed, press and release EACH Option keys, one at a time. Do you get the same response on both keys?
(Don't hold the option key WHILE you open the keyboard viewer, that's kind of counter-productive, I think.

If you really don't see any issues while the keyboard viewer is open -- be sure to test Option key by pressing with various pressures, and at different parts of the key.

What exactly are you doing when you first notice that the Option key does not respond correctly? Is it always the same task? Using alternate characters, or something else?
 
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