I just wanted to make some input where I press a key and the auto-repeat function engages so I don't have to press the 0 key many times to make a long number.


This has always worked without fail in the past, but it's not something I do often and I'm not sure where to look next to figure out what might be preventing this.

keyboard - system preferences

I've toggled the sliders to change the delay for key repeat, but the only thing I can hang my hat on is that perhaps Lion disables this with the new feature where you hold down some keys (like the vowels, but also some consonants) to get alternate accented characters.

s turns into ß or ś or š and so on....

Am I missing an obvious setting, or is this something that has moved to a hidden setting or is simply a bug that these controls are still around since key repeat is now deprecated?

Comments welcome if anyone doesn't have an answer, but can provide specifics where this does work for them. I've checked two Macs so I'm guessing it's not related to keyboard type or connection method.


2 Answers 2


The accented character selection when a key is held was one of the tiny things that changed in Lion. To disable it, run this in the Terminal:

defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool false

I will admit, though, it is strange that there's a setting in System Preferences that only affects behavior accessed through a defaults write command.

  • 1
    I am going to file one heck of a bug report for leaving those controls but detached from the actual on off switch. Thanks!
    – bmike
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 4:56
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    The key repeat controls in Lion still affect keys other than letters and numbers — arrow keys, return, delete, function/hardware keys, punctuation, etc. Some apps, like Terminal, will still repeat alphanumeric characters, too. It does seem strange that punctuation and "option" characters allow repeating but not numbers, even though there are no numbers that trigger the popup.
    – joelseph
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 5:03
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    Wow - a pile of undocumented mess (assuming I can't find this documented now that I know the defaults command) - perhaps that's why it took so long for me to notice with terminal being unchanged.
    – bmike
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 12:11
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    This command requires a restart to take effect. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 13:27
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    Nevermind - it didn't fix it for the GUI apps. Shit!
    – user117583
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 13:27

As Kyle menitoned, this is a side effect of Lion's new accent feature.

If you have TinkerTool installed, you could easily enable or disable the feature as of version 10.7, which lets you:

Re-enable the key repeat feature


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