OS X – Choose Between the Character Accents Popup
and Key Repeat When Holding Down a Key


Apple introduced an iOS feature to OS X some years back changing the behaviour of the keyboard. Traditionally, if a key was held down, the letter would start repeating itself on screeeeeeeeeen. This was changed to a popup which displayed various non-standard characters. I was never a fan of this, even though it does indeed simplify finding accented letters. This cannot be changed through System Preferences, but a quick visit to the Terminal can sort things out.

Disable Popup / Enable Key Repeat

OS X keyboard popup dialog accented letters

  1. You will need to launch Terminal first — just press ⌘Space and type in Terminal.
  2. Type in the following command and press Enter:

  1. You will need to relaunch the app that you are using. Logging out and back in should solve this system-wide.

Enable Popup / Disable Key Repeat

Should you wish to return to the popup and disable key repeat, you will need to replace false with true in the before mentioned command, like this:

Hope this helps!

Chcesz zwrócić mi na coś uwagę lub skomentować? Zapraszam na @morid1n.


  1. Works perfectly, thank you :)

  2. I recently talked to a friend about the fact that the pop-up will get standardized since there will be a whole new generation of people who experience computing on mobile/tablets first and will have no idea that character accents are done with Alt/Option key and will instead natively rely on the pop-up.

  3. Funny thing

    I thought I don’t have that behavior because I never noticed it. So I wanted to say here that this is not enabled by default or at least I don’t have it – then checked in in TextEdit and I was shocked to actually get it :D

    Then I thought: “ok, I mostly write code so probably this behavior is disabled in code editors like Xcode” – but: no, it works there either. One exception I found is the Terminal app.

    It seems that any character repeating I did was manual, without holding a key.

    So, since I never really noticed that (not sure when it was introduced, but you are talking about years…) I think it is not a big deal breaker after all. At least for me, maybe people who write more text are more annoyed by it.

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  5. This does not work in El Capitan…..

  6. Thanks! I was getting both the repeating character and also the accent pop-up. This let me turn one of them off. Trying to get the accent menu only after the character repeats 7 times is annoying.

  7. Thank you!!! Works in El Captain.

  8. Thanks! The lack of repeat was annoying for longtime Macheads. I might also add that I can’t wait until the generation that “experience computing on mobile/tablets first” start complaining when everything they grew up loving starts changing on them ;-) It will happen!

  9. All I can say: Don’t add a feature an no checkbox to disable it.