Holding down a key on the keyboard does not cause it to repeat correctly. The key will repeat, but only after 2 seconds or so. In some cases it doesn't repeat at all. There are a few suggestions floating around in forums but none seem to correct the problem.

Settings in preferences are ignored: enter image description here

Interestingly, key repeat does seem to work in Terminal, but that's the exception. It's broken in Notes, Mail, TextEdit, etc.

Any ideas?

2 Answers 2


This bug was fixed by Apple in macOS 10.12.1, released a few hours after I wrote the above ...

  • We like answers to be more than just a single line. Ideally, you want to explain why your answer is *right." It also helps to provide links, citations, and/or screen shots. Please review our help section How to Answer on writing good answers to questions
    – Allan
    Oct 24, 2016 at 23:48
  • Your comment doesn't seem to refer to my question. My question is very detailed and specific and includes a screenshot. The answer does not need the same level of detail because the 10.12.1 macOS update demonstrated that my question was caused by a bug in 10.12.0. Apple, as you know, doesn't provide exhaustive lists of every bug they fix in point releases or any releases so what is there to link to? Oct 28, 2016 at 22:10
  • I'm still having the issue on 10.12.2. Was the bug reintroudced? Dec 21, 2016 at 6:20
  • It's true that characters repeat with a maintained keypress only in Terminal, I also don't get repetition in Notes, Mail and TextEdit. However the "bug" was particularly bad in 10.12.0 where you could not hold down the delete/backspace key to delete a line of text, this now works fine. I believe key repeat was removed about a year ago in favour of a popup menu which gives you accented characters in different languages (on some characters). But repeat on the delete key should always work, which is does for me in 10.12.2. Dec 21, 2016 at 9:13

This worked for me on macOS 10.12.2:


In a nutshell, it says to:

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Enter the command: defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false
  3. Restart

You need to restart after toggling this setting on OR off.

  • That's good to know, thanks. I actually prefer the default behaviour and use the popup with accented characters. I updated the title post to better reflect the problem, which was fixed in macOS 10.12.1 Jan 19, 2017 at 3:19
  • As an additional comment - this will change the behavior of "press-and-hold to get diacritic keys" - like the "en-yay" n key (ñ) will no longer be available by holding "n" and then pressing "1" (on my US keyboard). I spent a long time remembering the diacritics codes for some keys, so it doesn't help me.
    – Jon V
    Apr 25, 2017 at 18:20

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