Ok so this is weird.

I thought my mac's keyboard had developed a broken key, but after some testing it's only broken when interacting with some other keys.

The left shift key doesn't work with a handful of other keys, see the following output with the shift key depressed:


Also note the lack of an i in that output. That key works, but when the shift key is depressed it doesn't output anything.

It doesn't appear to be a software issue, as it's exactly the same on both my imac and when hooked up to my macbook.

Ghost in the machine?

  • Double check that shift + i has by chance not been designated as a keyboard shortcut for something (especially check system preferences/speech) on both macs. Jul 2 '15 at 10:24
  • Thanks for the suggestion but I had checked this already! Jul 2 '15 at 12:34

Given the problem appears on two Macs, this suggests a hardware fault. If the keyboard is not too old, take it to an Apple Store. They may be able to replace it for you.

The strange behaviour you are seeing could be because a circuit is damaged and causing ghosting. Microsoft's article on ghosting explains more:

What causes ghosting?

Typically, ghosting is the result of one or more of following three limitations: the hardware can't read the given key combination, the software on the computer doesn't support multiple simultaneous keys, or the communication protocol between the hardware and software limits the maximum number of simultaneous keys reported. The next section discusses in more detail the hardware design of typical keyboards that limits the number of keys that can be read at the same time.

  • If only I were any where near an apple store! Not really worth the trip for a keyboard :) I agree though that it does seem like it must be a hardware fault - just seemed like a very random failure. I ruined one keyboard with water, which makes sense, but this one just gave up! Jul 2 '15 at 12:35
  • Sorry to hear the store is not a possibility. Might want to try with the computer of a friend or family member. That would absolutely confirm the problem is the keyboard itself. Jul 2 '15 at 12:40
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    Seems to be the one retailer we don't have locally! If I'm passing by a store I'll be sure to pack my keyboard, at least I don't have to lug the imac there! Jul 2 '15 at 13:22

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