7 Replies Latest reply: Nov 18, 2013 10:16 AM by Jeremy Bechtold
Bruce Kelly Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

I’m one of the thousands who are struggling with the use of Spaces and the locked up keyboard.  When I use my keyboard to move between spaces, the Spaces image remains on the screen, freezing up my keyboard so that only limited buttons still work.  The most effective way I’ve found to combat this is to open Activity Monitor and quit the Dock, thus giving me full control of my keyboard back again.


However, in the past 24 hours I’ve discovered something that I thought might be of use to someone with more insight into OS X than myself.  I’m a Kensington Mouse user of more than 15 years.  Their Mouseworks software allows one to customize mouse clicks in any way they see fit.  Yesterday I noticed that when I go into the Mouseworks preference panel and indicate that I’d like to define a specific command for this or that button, that once I click in the space that allows me to type this command, my simple click therein immediately publishes anywhere from 1 to a half dozen characters, without my command.  It’s almost as if somehow characters are being stored in my click.  For example, I just clicked in this box and without me touching the keyboard, the letters Q and W suddenly appeared therein.


How does this relate to Spaces?  A few hours ago when Spaces locked my keyboard, I went into Mouseworks and tried this again, and when I clicked in this box which displays any command accompanying my click, only the letter Q appeared on its own.  I then canceled out of this box and pressed the letter Q on my keyboard, and Spaces unlocked!  Suddenly my keyboard was free.  A short time later Spaces locked on me again.  Going back into Mouseworks, the input box displayed, “Q W Up Arrow” after I clicked therein.  I exited out and pressed each of these keys and Spaces freed up again.


While I am a lifelong Mac user, I’m not an expert by any imagination, so I don’t know what any of this means, definitively.  It appears to me, nonetheless, that for some reason, letters and commands, keyboard keys, are somehow lingering into my mouse clicks, and it appears as if Spaces is freezing my keyboard because it’s waiting for those buttons to be pressed.


Is this a keyboard error? A preferences error?  An OS X error?  I don’t know.  But I thought that if I shared my findings here, someone might be able to look into solutions that I can’t conceive.

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8), Late 2009, Dual Core 3.06 GHz
  • 1. Re: Spaces Keyboard Freeze, Possible Insight?
    Bruce Kelly Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Okay everyone, let me add to my own post, another piece of insight in the last 24.  First, let me post an image that might help define what I've described above:


    Screen shot 2011-09-12 at 7.13.59 PM.jpg


    According to the instruction I've given the Mouseworks software, this box should just be "command Q", a command I've assigned to that particular mouse button.  But when I click my mouse in this box, rather than just placing the cursor there, the letter “Q” and the symbol “[“ are deposited, without my every touching the keyboard.  I then use my keyboard to change Spaces, and my keyboard get locked out.  But then I type in these two letters, the Spaces image disappears, and my keyboard is free.


    If my findings in the last 24 are consistent, then here's what I've surmised: If the only button I press on my mouse is the left button, then the Spaces does not freeze on my screen and my keyboard does not lock me out. But if I hit any other button on my mouse, a button wherein I've told my software to press a keyboard combination, then Spaces does freeze, until I go back into Mouseworks, find out what key combination is lingering, and then type that combination.


    One more thing.  If I've gone into Mouseworks and discovered the key combination, and then typed that combination of letters, everything is back to normal. In fact, if I immediately go back to that Mouseworks screen and click my mouse therein, there are no longer any lingering letters.  If at this point I unplug my mouse, I can uses Spaces and my Trackpad all I want, bouncing back and forth between any Space I wish by using the keyboard, and Spaces never hangs.


    My conclusion: Is it possible that each of us suffering from Spaces causing our keyboards to freeze is using an external mouse?  That seems totally plausible.  Or is it possible this problem is caused by those of us who are using software to have key commands activated when we click a button?  Doesn't Apple's own Magic Mouse software allow for such?


    I can't imagine that finding this for myself is unique to me.  I also can't imagine that everyone with this problem is using a Kensington mouse; that seems WAY too coincidental.  But I can imagine there's a solution somewhere in this revelation.  Is it the mouse software we need to delete?  Is it a keyboard preference that's causing characters to linger in the clicking?  Is this all some evil scheme of Steve Jobs to force all of us to use the Magic Mouse? 


    Look into this for yourself!  Tell me what you guys find.


  • 2. Re: Spaces Keyboard Freeze, Possible Insight?
    Bruce Kelly Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I really had hoped that my discovery here would open doorways, or at the least, conversation.  Two weeks later and no one has replied.  That's frustrating.  I really think that what we've got here is the basis of this problem.  Somehow, somewhere inside OS X, mouse software is not working the way it should, and causing this problem.  I'm certain of it.


    The odd thing is, this past week, the problem stopped.  i didn't change anything, as far as I know; things just started working fine again.  I was overjoyed!  And then today it came back.  A few days free, and now the problem is back. And just like I outlined above, I can still go to my mouse software and figure out what keys my keyboard thinks needs to be pressed.  It's almost as if there should be a keyboard reset or something when Spaces is used, or as if the mouse software needs to clear its algorythms.  I don't know.  I sure wish there was someone out there that could look into this, someone who knows more about OS X than I do.

  • 3. Re: Spaces Keyboard Freeze, Possible Insight?
    MacMaster Mark Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I think you're on to something, but I have a 13-in. MacBook Pro with no peripherals, and it still freezes from time to time. I run OS 10.7.1.

  • 4. Re: Spaces Keyboard Freeze, Possible Insight?
    pags101 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    It's a good theory except for one thing in my case. I don't use a mouse as I have a MacBook Pro with built in trackpad and keyboard. I constantly get the issue with the keyboard getting locked out using spaces. I have followed the advice another user suggested (apologies for forgetting the name or having no link) of deselecting the checkbox in Spaces preferences as follows "When switiching to an application, switch to a space with open windows for the application" (It's the only check box in the window). Since doing so (touch wood) I have not experienced a 'lock-out' situation. For scientific purposes I have not used the Mac long-enough since changing to 100% say this is a cure but worth a go if you are having problems too. Post your results if it works for you too and thanks for adding to the forum... any hints are appreciated by all frustrated users!

  • 5. Re: Spaces Keyboard Freeze, Possible Insight?
    Bruce Kelly Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    With colleagues admitting they have this problem but don’t use alternative mouse software, let alone an external mouse, and looking like this problem still exists in Lion, I’m confident this problem is centered in the OS.  I’m very frustrated that Apple has not done a thing about this problem.  Nevertheless I’ve been a Mac user since 6th grade, and I have little to complain about.


    So as all great Mac users do, I found ways to make things work. (Please note that I'm still using Snow Leopard, as I have a few PowerPC apps I'm not yet ready to abandon)


    Here’s my solution(s):

    • Solution #1: Quitting the dock is clearly the simplest way.  However, having to constantly bounce back and forth between the Activity Monitor and whatever I was working on is frustrating.  Looking for alternatives, I found a suggestion to make an AppleScript that would restart the dock for me.  This was my first AppleScript ever, but it worked, and here’s what I did:
      • I opened the AppleScript Script Editor (located at /Applications/Utilities/AppleScript/Script Editor) and I typed (or you can paste) the line below in the edit window:

    quit application "Dock"

    When I saved it, I went to “save as” and I saved it as an application, and saved it in my download folder.

    • With my download folder in my dock, I went there whenever Spaces froze my keyboard.  This was satisfactory for awhile, but then I found another option.  Having recently discovered the joy and beauty of BTT (Better Text Tool), I went into the preferences therein and compiled a command.  When I tap 4 fingers on my trackpad, it launches this AppleScript, the dock restarts, and I get full control of my keyboard back.  So with a simple tap, I have control again.


    • Solution #2: My second option was to follow other’s advice and download Hyperspaces (thecocoabots.com/hyperspaces/).  The great thing about this is it allows for the changing of spaces using alternative commands.  For example, rather than control + left arrow to move to my next space, I could instruct control + option + command + left arrow.  Burdensome?  Perhaps. But once I had fixed this, I went back into BTT and update this instruction.  As such, with a swipe of my choice, I can now change Spaces with my trackpad again, and freezing is a problem of the past.


    Of note, if I were to use control + left arrow at this moment, Spaces still changes, and most likely the icon will remain on the screen, freezing my keyboard.  So clearly what I’ve just suggested does not qualify as a solution, rather a work around.  Yet it’s a work around that right now I am happy with.  And for all the headaches I’ve had with the Spaces freeze (imagine having it freeze up in the middle of class!) were it not for this problem, I may not have discovered BTT or Hyperspaces.


    I hope this helps some of you, if not all.

  • 6. Re: Spaces Keyboard Freeze, Possible Insight?
    memelab Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    great investigations, Bruce!


    My issue may be related.

    Similarities: my keyboard locks up - can command+tab task switch, but cannot type anything with normal keys using my wireless KB or internal MBP kb running 10.6.8. Wireless mouse and trackpad are no problem.


    I've just installed and begun using a second hand Wacom Grapphire4 with Photoshop CS5.

    I use Better Touch Tool, Better Snap Tool, launchbar, Sizzlingkeys4iTunes, and Spark, all of which do KB shortcuts. Of these, only spark is new.


    I'll be trying the alternatives to reboot which are suggested here!  Thanks, Tim

  • 7. Re: Spaces Keyboard Freeze, Possible Insight?
    Jeremy Bechtold Level 2 Level 2 (220 points)

    great thought on the kensington mouseworks bruce! I'm going ot investigate your symptoms to ee if they match mine a little more closely. I know this thread is more than two years old, but I jst finally got around to digging up a reason for my keyboard locking up after it's been happening for about six months.


    I'm still using 10.6.8 due to a couple software incompatibilities (though I think by the end of the year I'll at least jump to 10.8 and maybe test to see if my late 2007 MBP can handle 10.9 before I dig in). I too use mouseworks, for my expertmouse trackball, and I've also found a few other threads where people seem to find other apps, such as quicksilver or things, causing the issue. I use quicksilver as well. but I cannot seem to make any connection between Qs and when the issue pops up for me. I don't use things, and will probably test your theory above with mouseworks later today if I get a chance.


    in the meantime, thanks for the thought on the dock applescript. it's a simple one, but made into an app in my dock or finder window icon bar it'll be priceless if it works. watch, I'll probably not have the issue pop up for a couple weeks simply because it want to test it and think I'm prepared.


    does it still appear for you, two years later? have you moved on to 10.8 and/or 10.9? curious whether it has been resolved for 10.6 or 10.7 or if it just required 10.8 to kill the bug. I know there are still plenty of us using older systems who don't want to waste resources on the system. there is a balance there between a newer, more-efficiently-coded os and knowing that the old system doesn’t eat up all the available ram, etc...


    one time I can say that I consistently can make it appear is when I've had chrome open for several days, using web apps that eat up scratch disk space in the cache. I can also assume it'll happen more after being incognito so that I can isolate cookies and sessions (I'm a web designer, so being logged in as several different users at once online is sometimes necessary). it's hard to "try" to make it happen, so I think I'll try to wait it out and be ready with my applescript app. I can't say for sure if incognito really does trigger it easier though, as it's certainly not every time.


    figured I'd ask the follow-ups above and hopefully, if nothing else, someone else who finds this thread later can make use of my add'l info. cheers.