You can control a few things about how your computer’s keyboard works. Two of them that are most crucial — especially if you are a touch-typist — are the repeat delay and the repeat rate:

Repeat delay: When you press and hold a key on a computer keyboard, the key eventually repeats itself, spewing out characters across the screen like bullets from a machine gun. The pause between pressing the key and when it starts repeating is the repeat delay.

Repeat rate: After you press and hold down a key on the keyboard, the key starts repeating itself. The speed at which it repeats is the repeat rate, which can be fast or slow.

The best way to understand how the rates work is to mess with them:

  1. Open the Keyboard Properties dialog box.

    • In Windows 7, choose Devices and Printers from the Start button menu, and then right-click the Keyboard icon and choose Keyboard Settings.

    • In Windows Vista, open the Control Panel and choose Hardware and Sound, and then choose Keyboard.

    • In Windows XP, open the Keyboard icon in the Control Panel.

  2. Click on the Speed tab.

    The Speed tab is where you set the repeat delay and delay rate values.

  3. Use the sliders beneath Repeat Delay and Repeat Rate to speed things up or down.

  4. Click the Apply button.

  5. Click in the text box.

  6. Press and hold a key on the keyboard to check the rates.

  7. Repeat Steps 2 through 5 to hone the settings.

  8. Click OK when things are set up just so.

  9. Close the Control Panel window.

When a key gets stuck, it repeats like crazy, no matter what. A stuck key indicates a mechanical problem with the keyboard, not anything that software can fix. You can try cleaning the keyboard, though buying a new keyboard may be the best solution.