Keyboard Input Ignored for c, h, t, and v Keys in Specific Applications Only

Every once in a great while I see this odd problem arise. I have not yet found a solution but when I do it will find a home here.

Basically what happens is I will hop over to a specific application, try to type into that application, and find that certain particular letters will do nothing. This time it was these four letters: t, h, c, and v, but I think that sounds like what it was on other occasions (though I don’t recall perfectly).

Most recently this happened in Outlook. I have seen this happen in Outlook before, but I’ve seen it happen a couple of times in Firefox and once in Opera. It is definitely not a keyboard problem, a driver issue, a problem with the specific application, or a keyboard shortcut issue—nor is it a virus or spyware.

Something as yet undetermined happens in the wonderful world of Windows XP (I have one user reporting this in the Mac OS as well) wherein those four letters are completely ignored as input. It only effects a single application when it occurs. No alt-, ctrl-, or windows- commands are executed when any of those keys are typed. I can press the same key, the t say, 100 times and absolutely nothing will happen. Then I switch to another application et voilà it works fine. For instance I’ve had to type an e-mail reply into a text editor and paste it into the reply window because I couldn’t type basic words like the.

Using associated keyboard shortcuts seems to be unaffected. As noted I was not able to type the letter v. However, I was able to use ctrl-v to paste into the reply window.

Now I know you’re going to think: “well it must be that reply window”.  Again, it’s application-wide.  I am not able to type those letters into the search boxes or contacts windows or any other place that might allow text entry—within the afflicted application.

Also, I have seen this on at least three machines where there can be no relation between them (except my smiling face reflected in the monitor).  I think I have seen this happen maybe half a dozen times in the last couple of years.

It’s easy enough to fix by restarting the afflicted application, but I am on the path for this one.  It’s stuck in my craw so I won’t be satisfied until I figure what the hell is going on.

It has come to my attention this may also effect on-screen keyboards.  Please test this in your case if you are able, and let us know your results below.

I’ll try to keep this up to date concerning my progress, but feel free to share your solutions. I’m all eyes.  (This happens rarely enough that it’s good to have others contributing data.)

(It will be useful to include four items in your comments: 1) your solution (even if temporary); 2) keys effected; 3) application(s) effected; and 4) operating system(s) involved.)

Random Solutions and Workarounds Culled from the Comments (and Elsewhere):

(In no particular order.  This may not be complete and up-to-date.)

  1. A double-tap of the Windows (or Super) key.
  2. A double-tap of specifically the right Windows key.
  3. Restart the effected application (or Explorer if effected)
  4. Reboot (last resort).
  5. “Detect and Repair” from the Help menu in Outlook (Outlook only)
  6. Press CapsLock and Shift back down to lower case (this is a per letter fix)
  7. Fn key + Windows key may toggle problem on and off.
  8. Alt key + Windows key may toggle problem on and off (especially in Win8).
  9. Region and Language —> Keyboards and Languages —> change keyboards;
    delete all keyboards other than your language and delete all instances of “Ink Correction”.  Or try changing the format setting at Format (dropdown): from English (United States) to English (United Kingdom) and click OK.
  10. Disable Sticky Keys (Control Panel —> Ease of Access Center —> Make the keyboard easier to use —> Make it easier to type —> uncheck “Turn on Sticky Keys“)
  11. Remove all keyboards from the Device Manager and reboot.
  12. Login to the effected machine via RDP and then return to the machine and login locally.
  13. Laptops may have to use the Widows key on the laptop and not a secondary keyboard.
  14. In Win7 it may be useful to check for keyboard/language changing hotkeys here Control Panel —> Region and Language —> Keyboards and Languages —> Change Keyboards —> Advanced Key Settings
  15. If you have only a left Windows key, you may attach an external keyboard which does.  Failing that, user Matan below wrote a right-Windows-key simulator which can be found here.  (Please note that I cannot guarantee the integrity of that source, so please use appropriate caution when downloading from unknown sources.)
  16. User Klode as offered another possible solution for users lacking a right-Windows key.  Open a command prompt and type first cd /d c:\tmp (then press Enter) followed by nircmd sendkeypress rwin (and press Enter).  Klode also describes how to create a shortcut for that and his comment can be found here.

If none of these work or if you have one to add yourself, comment away.

(It will be useful to include four items in your comments: 1) your solution (even if temporary); 2) keys effected; 3) application(s) effected; and 4) operating system(s) involved.)

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558 thoughts on “Keyboard Input Ignored for c, h, t, and v Keys in Specific Applications Only

  1. My keys were c, h, and v…oddly similar to your problem keys. It happened after my six year old started randomly clicking things on the screen and hitting a long string of random keys on the keyboard. The keys by themselves would do nothing, but I could type the capital of each using shift, and commands all worked using alt or ctrl. I went straight for the reboot and did not save the document my son “typed” just incase it might have saved some weird settings along with it. After the reboot, all is back to normal.

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