Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake

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oops keyboard mistakes   Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By MistakeIt happens even to the most experienced of users: the accidental keyboard shortcuts. No matter how often you use your computer, weird things can start happening when you’re going too fast, when you lean on your keyboard, and of course, when you’re cat or child decide it’s party time, and your keyboard is a dance floor/drum set. Very experienced users know how to fix each and every problem, but many of us sometime encounter a weird problem we’re not sure how to fix, mainly because we’re not sure how it happened.

Has your cat ever walked on your keyboard just for a second, causing the entire display to flip on its side? Have you ever tried typing your password over and over again, getting an error even when you were sure you’re doing it right? Have you ever tried changing your keyboard language, and managed to close the entire program you were working on by mistake? If one of these things or something similar ever happened to you or someone you know, this guide is for you.

Bookmark, save, and share with friends. Next time you’ll know what to do, and more importantly, how it happened!

My Display Is Flipped!

strl alt arrow   Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake

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If this never ever happened to you or to anyone you know, raise your hand now. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t encountered this weird problem at least once. While it’s very easy to do by mistake, especially for cats and children, it’s not always easy to remember how to fix it. So how does this happen? Ctrl+Alt+Arrow Keys. When you hit this combination, no matter which arrow, your display will flip in the direction of the arrow you used. It’s pretty simple, but very disturbing when it happens by mistake.

So how do I fix it? Ctrl+Alt+”Up Arrow” will do the trick, and will restore your display to the right orientation.

This Thing Keeps Saying My Password Is Wrong!

caps lock   Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake

This one is very common, and probably the easiest one to recognize, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Yes, it’s the notorious CAPS LOCK, especially when trying to type in a password. Why do we need this key on the keyboard, I will never understand. Not only is it ever-present, it’s also huge, and right above the shift button. A mistake waiting to happen if I ever saw one.

When you accidently hit caps lock when just typing, it’s not so bad. When you’re typing a hidden password, though, it can turn into a disaster. I once had myself locked out of an account on a website after getting my password wrong too many times. The darn caps lock was on, and it took me way too much time to realize what was going on.

So how do I fix it? If you get your password wrong twice in a row, CHECK THE CAPS LOCK. It’s probably on.

My Num Pad Stopped Typing Numbers!

num pad   Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake

These days, most keyboard include a number pad, even on laptops. And where there’s a num pad (and even where there isn’t, really), there’s a Num Lock button. If you’ve ever tried to use your num pad and ended up scrolling as if you were using arrows, you’ve probably turned your num lock off. The num lock button, while it’s on, makes sure your num pad outputs numbers. When it’s off, the num pad keys turn to arrows, and you’re not getting any numbers. Since it’s mostly useless, it’s very easy to hit by mistake.

So how do I fix it? This is a no brainer: Make sure your num lock is on, if you want to type numbers. Note that on some laptops, you need to use the Fn key in order to toggle num lock. When this is done by mistake, it’s even more difficult to discover what’s happened!

My Display Keeps Changing Size!

Have you ever innocently scrolled a page, only to have it become huge or tiny within seconds? This rather amusing effect is usually caused by the Ctrl key being pressed, or even stuck, while using the mouse’s scroll wheel. When you hit Ctrl and scroll, you’re actually zooming in and out of the page (very useful to know, if you haven’t been using it). You can achieve the same effect by pressing ctrl and the plus or minus buttons, whether intentionally or not.

So how do I fix it? If you’re zooming in and out and didn’t mean to do this, check your ctrl key. If you’re not actively pressing it, tap it a few times to make sure it’s not stuck, or read “Everything Has Gone Insane!!!!” further down this post.

The Arrow Keys Scroll My Entire Excel Spreadsheet!

OK, I’ll admit this one is rare, but when it does happen, it’s really annoying. Have you ever worked on an Excel spreadsheet (or some of the other rare programs that are actually affected by this), and suddenly found that the arrow keys scroll the entire spreadsheet instead of moving between cells? Something so simple, and yet it can drive a person insane when trying to get some work done. The solution to this mystery is simple: the Scroll Lock key.

Already absent from many keyboards, this key is a relic from of times past, and doesn’t really affect most of today’s software. It does, however, work in Microsoft Excel, and several other text editors. It’s function is to turn your arrow keys into scroll keys, instead of have them move the cursor.

So how do you fix it? Well, this one is simple. Turn off scroll lock!

I’m Trying To Change Language, & Weird Things Keep Happening!

alt no shift   Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake

Ah, my favorite mistake, and the one that keep happening to me over and over again. If you only use an English keyboard, you’ve probably never encountered this, but anyone who had to switch between languages or layout probably knows this. Sometimes you’re trying to switch languages by pressing Alt+Shift, and when you resume typing in the other language, all sort of crazy things start happening. What’s going on?

What’s  happening is that for some reason, the keyboard didn’t catch the “shift” part of the shortcut, and only took the “alt” into account. In many programs, hitting alt is the same as opening the menus on top. When you hit alt and then a combination of letters, you can activate pretty much every function in the menu, using only the keyboard. Very useful when you actually want to do this, but not so when you only want to switch languages. I can’t count the number of times I managed to close the entire window, when I was only trying to switch languages.

(I’m not even going to go into the “typing in the wrong language” problem. I can write a whole post about this one.)

So how do I fix it? Stop for a second after hitting alt+shift; do you see the letters highlighted on the menu as seen in the screenshot? Don’t go any further. Hit escape, and then alt+shift again, this time with intention!

Everything Has Gone Insane!!!!

You’re trying to type, and weird things keep happening. Capital letters come out of nowhere, your text is randomly highlighted or disappears, and your windows keep minimizing for no apparent reason. If you’re really in trouble, you may even lock your entire computer without meaning to. And the thing keeps beeping! What’s going on?

sticky keys   Oops, I Did It Again: 7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake

Yes, the infamous sticky keys. While these could be very convenient for people who have trouble holding two keys at the same time, it’s nothing but a nuisance to anyone else. And the worse thing: they can be activated by mistake. Sticky keys make it so you don’t have to hold the shift, ctrl, alt and Win keys in order to activate their special functions. You can hit shift, let it go, and then hit a letter. You will get a capital latter.

How do you activate it? Usually by tapping on the shift button five times in a row. When you do that, a beep sounds, and the above dialog box appears. If you’re not paying attention, you might just hit yes without realizing, it is the default answer after all, and you’re stuck with sticky keys.

So how do I fix it? If you’ve managed to activate sticky keys by mistake, tapping five times on the shift button will turn them off. You won’t see a notice about it, but you’ll hear four beeps, and then a distinctive downwards beep. Sticky keys are now off!

Conclusion

These are most likely not the only annoying keys people hit by mistake. When writing this post, I was trying to include the most common keyboard mistakes I could think of, especially those that keep happening to me. Not being a newbie, I’m aware that if something happens to me, it can sure happen to people who don’t use a computer for their livelihood.

Is there an annoying keyboard shortcut I forgot to mention? Does something like this keep happening to you? Tell us your stories, and of course, how to fix it!

Image credits: man hitting computer image via Shutterstock, num pad image via Shutterstock

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55 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Andrew Niklas

for the rotating display this can be completely avoided by going into control panel–> uninstall programs–> Turn windows features on or off–> and then uncheck “tablet PC components–> apply.

this will remove that feature and the chance of it ever happening again :)

Yaara Lancet

Great tip, and really useful here. Thanks!

Ahmed Khalil

it is first time for me to know about this shortcut

Ahmed Khalil

by the way i try it but not work with me ? i do not why

Harish Jonnalagadda

It should.. Windows started including this feature when they started making tablets, not Surface, but those chunky Gateway machines way back in 2003. As is their wont, they have included the functionality for all versions of WIndows.

Yaara Lancet

Well, who knows when you might want to flip your laptop sideways! It’s a very original way to work.

Alex Downs

I always wondered why mine never did that, I would try that combination and nothing happens lol.

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memo1288

Very nice article! I didn’t know the function of scroll lock and sticky keys.
Also, I was reading that first paragraph in a curious way:
“…when you lean on your keyboard, and of course, when you’re a cat or child…”

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FĂ©lix S. De JesĂşs

Shift Key is the most common hahahaha

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Suresh Volam

Thanks for the article. I tried Ctrl+Alt+Arrow keys, but my screen is not flipped though.

Lee

If you’re stuck in a different orientation, you can usually find an option in your video card settings to flip the display too.

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Krishnaji Ki2

Good article…………could anyone please tell me the thing to block the stick keys

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Marek

The only listed problem i’ve had was the alt+shift issue – it caused letters ‘y’ and ‘z’ get swaped. This was really annoying.
But the most frustrating for me was hitting the ‘insert’ button. I totally didn’t know what to do when suddenly during editing my text everything i was writing started deleting the already existing text. It took me some time to discover the simple solution :)

Yaara Lancet

The insert button is an excellent addition. It hasn’t happened to me in years because of my current keyboard layout so I completely forgot how annoying it is. Thanks!

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Adrian Rea

A nice article, but remember to state this is MS Windows based as other operating systems are available.
I would add to the list a couple of main annoyances. The Insert key. When pressed once, its effects may not be immediately noticed, when you go back and edit a sentence you find you are overwiting what is already there. Simply pressing Insert again to fix it. Next Autocorrect – Word and a number of other programs may automattically correct spelling mistakes or words that are not in its dictionary. This can lead to unreadable text as the replace words may be unrelated to the article. To fix, turn off autocorrect and proof read your work before moving on.
Nice tip Andrew on the rotating display, I will do that on the wife’s PC straight away as it always confuses her!

Yaara Lancet

You’re absolutely right, I was sure I mentioned that I’m a Windows user so most of these are probably Windows only. Sorry about that.

Thanks for your suggestions and tips!

Nightshadow

“and proof read your work before moving on.”

Proof read? Does anyone proof read any more? Seems very few do, unfortunately.

Drew Butler

very true

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Adrian Rea

Oh yup 2 others, function keys especially f1 for some reason (probably mistake for a 1 or ESC), brining up a help window. Secondly netbook and laptop users accidentally touching the mouse pad sending them anywhere on the screen. With a Dell mini9 it is the bane of my life!

Arron Walker

If you look at the function keys, one may have the image of a mouse or a touch pad on it. Press fn and that to temporarily disable it. If you’re feeling brave you could disable your touch pad in device manager. I’d only do that if you can get to device manager without using the mouse to begin with though. And only if your computer will disable it without restarting, that would be inconvenient.

Adrian Rea

Thank you Arron, I have seen this symbol on other machines but I have sadly not seen or found such an ability on the Dell Mini9. I think there may be a program out there to make a control key to enable and disable the touchpad, but not sure how legit it is. and I have heard there is a dell update that disables the touchpad when a usb mouse is in operation. but no use unless at a desk. Thanks again

Yaara Lancet

F1 is a great one which I should have thought about, thanks!

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Arron Walker

I’ve just had a thought – I’m going to get auto hot key on my laptop again and try it. Why not set up a macro, whenever you press caps lock – the system will press it again for you, immediately disabling it.

Arron Walker

If you have auto hotkey, run CapsLock::ScrollLock. It’ll remap it to scroll lock, which no one ever uses anyway. Or another key of your choice you’re unlikely to use.

Yaara Lancet

Brilliant! :)

jj

I’ve remapped mine to Backspace. Now I use it more often than the one on the right as it’s easier to reach.

Arron Walker

Oh, that sounds useful! I might try it. I have no trouble learnign new keyboard shortcuts, but when replacing something, I tend to drag awfully. Still, I’ll give it a go

Reply

josemon maliakal

funny , these things used to happen when i started used my computer..nostalgia ..:)

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Harish Jonnalagadda

Im glad my gaming keyboard tunes most of these keystrokes out.

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Sam Kar

Ctrl+Alt+Arrow Keys does not works for me in XP.

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Lyn Sweetapple

I turned off sticky keys in my computer lab as the students kept turning them on. Under Control Panel, Ease of Access, Making the Keyboard Easier to Use, you can uncheck use sticky keys. If there are other features you keep invoking by accident, you could probably find a checkbox for them under Control Panel.

I do wish that Word would show Overstrike/Insert in the status bar like they used to. However, when you have Insert on by mistake, quickly press Ctrl+Z.

Yaara Lancet

Thanks for the tips! I wish I remembered how annoying the insert button is when writing this. :)

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Alex Perkins

I love playing the rotated display trick, i did it once at school and the school admin didn’t even know how to fix it. I would have thought we would considering he’s meant to be running the whole network. I had to be pulled out of class to fix it for him.

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Mark Silos

hahahaha i always remember this on our office. people seems to be pissed off when this kind of thing happens and it was simple to fix. They thought they have done something wrong.

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Nightshadow

Terrific article, and I learned something new. I knew I could used the Control key and the + and _ keys to zoom in and out of a web page but did not know I could achieve the same thing using the Control key and my mouse scroll button. Very useful.

Thanks a bunch!

Acro

In addition to Ctrl with +- to zoom in/out, Ctrl and 0 will zoom to the original aspect
.
My usual accidental key combination other than the ones mentioned above, Ctrl+W instead of Ctrl+S(Save). Ctrl+W closes (W)indow. It’s like Alt+F4 :)

Yaara Lancet

Interesting, it never happened to me before, although W and S are definitely close. Sounds annoying!

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Imya Last

First one is most usefull

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Deb

I was typing, hit CTRL by mistake. The text was highlighted and then it disappeared! What happened? It has nothing to do with sticky keys. I hit CTRL again–trying to undo my mistake-nothing.I am new to computers and things like this drive me crazy.Can you help??? Would you EMAIL me? I would really appreciate it!!!
Thankyou Deb

Yaara Lancet

My guess is that you hot Ctrl+A by mistake. This selects all your text, and when you go on typing, you actually erase everything that’s highlighted. If this happens in the future, try hitting Ctrl+Z to undo your last action.

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Ah San

The Arrow Keys Scroll My Entire Excel Spreadsheet,this the one experience the most.

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Prabha Rani

When I play GTA Vice City, I want to go fast and press Shift 5 times in a row, and the game suddenly minimizes and sticky keys dialog appears! It always happens to me! :D

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CooL PsP3

it’s nice to know that there is a CooL site like makeuseof.com that really! helps a lot to a someone like me? Really appreciate all the infos you had such as computers, mobile etc’s keep it up and more power. Me and the rest of the Filipino’s all over the world (i hope so) likes makeuseof.com

Reply

Sebastian Cork

My most common enemies are…sticky keys and NUMpad. I didn’t know about the scroll lock effect in MS Excel. Thanks for the tips!

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Praveen pandey

initially i suffer from it. but not now.

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U.N. Owen

These are M’soft problems (and, the more they can have…)

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Eserpess Eserpess

Thank you so much, Iv always had a problem with sticky keys i don’t know why but ever single time i dump my headphones or the cats come to say hellow STICKY KEYS appear. before i just turned my computer on and off again so than you very much for helping me with this.

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Aaron Couch

Haha Yaara, this is great! I’ve been meaning to check this article out for a while… I can relate to every single one of these.

lAURA

SO I CANT TYPE ON MY DOCUMENT FOR WORK BUT CAN ONLINE. WHAT DID MY CAT HIT? ALL I GET IS AN ARROW..NO CURSOR TO TYPE.

Yaara Lancet

It’s hard to understand what you’re experiencing exactly, so I’m not sure how to solve your problem.

You can try asking your question on MakeUseOf Answers too, great place to get some answers. :)

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Somaiya Ebrahim

never faced any such problems..

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Dena’s Graphics

my numbers on laptop wont work –it just stopped during me working on it and the NUM LOCK is not on. Something else caused this it did it one time and someone told me to do something with other keys to unlock them

Yaara Lancet

Do you mean the numbers on your numpad or the numbers at the top of the keyboard?

If you’re talking about the numpad, your num lock key needs to be ON. Otherwise these keys are arrows.

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Scott MacDonald

I’m surprised the language change didn’t make it in here. That’s one of the big slip ups I find in my office.

Yaara Lancet

Well, many people don’t use multiple languages, but I actually did include what happens when you change languages and the Alt button stays activated. I hate that. :)

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