Adjust Key Repeat Settings

If you use key repeat on your Mac, you may want to adjust the settings to suit your needs. You can change the delay before a repeat starts, and also the speed of the repeat. You can also turn this feature off if you never use it to avoid mistakes.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Adjust Key Repeat Settings.

Key repeat is a function that's always been on Macs and most computers and actually predates computers back to electric typewriters. But it's not something I ever really used. I can understand though why some people use it.

For instance, you may want to put a divider between things. Here's two paragraphs in Pages here and maybe you want to put a bunch of dashes. So I'll press the dash key and hold and you can see it repeats across. You can do that with any key.

Another reason you may want to do it is if you actually need to repeat a character like the exclamation point or something like that. But that's probably not a very good use for it.

Probably the most common use, a maybe one that I've actually used, is to use the Delete key. So, for instance, I put the cursor there. I've just finished typing something and I realize is want to it erase it all. Press and hold the Delete key and it will delete one character at a time backwards.

Now for me it's much easier to select and delete or if I really don't want to lift my hands off the keyboard, hold down the Option key and delete one word at a time.

But if you're used to just holding the Delete key down to delete a bunch of characters, and it can be strangely satisfying to do so sometimes, then you want to know about how to adjust the key repeat settings. Because a lot of time people find that defaults don't really work great for them.

So the adjustments can be found in System Preferences under Keyboard, under the Keyboard tab, and there are these two sliders right here. So the one slider is how fast does the key repeat happen. When you hold down and you're putting a bunch of dashes how quickly is each dash pressed. The other one is how much of a delay there is until the first repeat.

For instance, I can set it to be a very long delay and I'll leave this speed here for key repeat. Now when I hit a dash it'll take a long time for that first repeat but then it goes at normal speed.

Now another thing you may want to do with these settings is to turn it off. If you find sometimes you rest your fingers on the keyboard you never really want to use key repeat and you'd rather just have the entire thing turned off then drag it all the way down to Off and it won't bother you anymore. Otherwise you may just want to keep the delay until repeat pretty long so that it's hard to trigger and maybe even the key repeat pretty slow so that if you do trigger it you don't get that may characters that you then have to delete.

If you find that you need this all the time, it's just part of how you type, then you may want to set the delay to repeat pretty short to get it going and maybe the key repeat pretty fast.

Comments: 4 Responses to “Adjust Key Repeat Settings”

    2 years ago

    No matter what I do, only a few keys repeat (such as period, equal, dash) but letter keys do not repeat, even though my settings are set as fast as possible. I have macOS Sierra. What else can I adjust beside what you talked about in this video?

    2 years ago

    Dori: Repeating letters is disabled and has been for many versions of OS X. Only commonly-used keys like spacebar, delete, dash, etc and repeated. Makes sense to me. But you can enable them with a Terminal command (defaults write -g ApplePressAndHoldEnabled -bool true) if you want. Requires a restart after.

    2 years ago

    On the 2015 Macbook Sierra 10.12.1 the functionality of holding down a key to set diacritics no longer works and I cannot find where to enable it. I trust this is on topic and that you can help! Option xxx still works, but is limited and cumbersome in comparison

    2 years ago

    Tokyoguru: Not sure why it isn’t working for you. Perhaps try playing with your keyboard settings.

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