I can reliably reproduce this in several programs. If I hold a letter such as a to type aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, it doesn't repeat, it just types it once. But then when I try to input text in the app after that it doesn't work. Keyboard shortcuts still work in the app, but input no longer works. In Chrome, input in the page fails but I can input in the address bar ok.

What on earth could cause this and how do I fix it?

This is on a MacBook Pro 15 inch Mid 2015, OSX 10.12.2 (Sierra).

Here's a screencast of it happening: screencast of event happening

Note how I type h a few times individually, then hit space and hold the h key. From that point on the keyboard completely fails to input any characters, though (as demonstrated) I can use the keyboard to copy/paste just fine. In Chrome, the keyboard is only broken in that tab (even through a refresh--the only way to get the keyboard back is to open a new tab). In text editors like PHPStorm, it's broken in all tabs and the entire app must be restarted to unbreak the keyboard.

  • 1
    It would be helpful to add a video!
    – owlswipe
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:14
  • 1
    Also helpful would be the device and version of macOS you are on.
    – Allan
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 19:15

3 Answers 3


I cannot reproduce the issue on my end but it sounds like you may have an issue with an Accessibility feature, seeing as how it's happening in multiple applications. Have you tried toggling 'System Preferences > Accessibility > Keyboard > Sticky Keys' (or Slow Keys) on and off and trying to reproduce the issue?

Second option might just be that your keyboard settings were somehow changed from the preset delays that you're used to. You could check 'System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard' and check the delay sliders. Setting the first one to 'Fast' and the second one to 'Short' should actually allow you to press and hold a non-alpha-numeric key for multiple entries (such as the punctuation keys or keys like =, +, -, _, etc.)

Note: The Mac keyboard does not allow you to press and hold letters because certain letters such as 'a' and 'e' trigger an accent menu to create characters such as 'à' or 'ē'.

  • Good idea to poke around accessibility settings. I've looked around and tried toggling things on/off, but no dice. It's not a change in repeat settings either. Something is causing input to completely break when a repeat key is attempted. It just happened to Chrome in the address bar and I had to restart Chrome to be able to type anything. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 4:09

I had the exact same problem and I was able to solve the issue by running in the terminal:

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

This effectively disables the accent menu (which never actually popped up for me). The problem would occur again if I re-enable the above setting.

  • I have a Macbook Air 2020, tried this and it did not work Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 18:22
  • Have to restart the computer.
    – Riza Khan
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 16:51

If I recall correctly, the issue here ended up being something related to an OS update gone wrong resulting in some deep-level corruptions. Sorry I can't remember what the specific fix was, but I do remember that being the cause.

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