I have a keyboard which is a little flaky, and occasionally one of the modifier keys becomes stuck. Realizing I’ve entered this state often takes a while. Is it possible to display — e.g., in the menu bar or in the style of Sticky Keys — which modifier keys are currently down?

I don’t need the Sticky Keys functionality, so turning that on wouldn’t seem to be a solution.

1 Answer 1


There is one native solution I can think of, and that's to show the Keyboard Layout window. This can be accessed through the input menu in the menu bar*, and will show you all keys and their current states. A bonus to this for normal circumstances is that you can see where option and shift-option special characters are mapped.

Another possible solution involves a third-party app such as Keyboard Maestro. If you create a macro triggered by the press of a modifier key, you can tell it to, say, display a Growl notification with a relevant message. I'm not exactly sure how you'd want to do this, or what exactly you'd want it to do in the first place, but many of these programs have tons of options.

*To enable this, go to System Preferences > Keyboard > "Show Keyboard and Character Viewers in menu bar"

  • So, it turns out that my keyboard is funky in a way which confuses Keyboard Layout (i.e., keys which are down when the keyboard gets weird aren't registered as down by KL even though they are active when typing). However, that seems too nit-picky to not accept the answer, and perhaps it will become more robust in the future. FWIW, I have a PS/2 keyboard running through a Belkin F5U119vE1 PS/2 -> USB adapter.
    – Reid
    Jan 27, 2012 at 0:04
  • Ah. That would happen. Thank you for accepting it, though. ...May I ask why you use that keyboard? I'm curious.
    – Tuesday
    Jan 27, 2012 at 14:28
  • It's the only keyboard I truly like, and they don't make them anymore, despite the website still being up. datadesktech.com/desktop_sb.html
    – Reid
    Jan 27, 2012 at 22:56
  • This is considerably digressing from the question at hand, but have you ever tried a Kinesis keyboard? My friend swears by his contoured one. kinesis-ergo.com
    – Tuesday
    Jan 28, 2012 at 3:08

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