Alt-Gr not working, how I fixed it

It’s really, really annoying writing PHP with a Norwegian keyboard when the Alt-Gr button doesn’t work (darn elusive dollar sign $).

It’s a fairly vague issue so even Google can have a hard time giving you the answer, anyway here’s how I hacked my way to the solution:

  1. Alt-Gr can be hampered by programs running on your computer (hotkey collisions), try closing all your applications one by one and see if the problem gets solved. See the list below.
  2. If the key is bogged down/reacting slowly/hard to press (maybe you spilled Coke or juice on it?) then try cleaning the key. It’s fairly simple, just yank the key out, blow and clean underneath it, then pop it back in. For laptops it might be a bit more difficult to open the key, but I won’t cover it in this article, Google is your friend.
  3. If the problem still persists, consider buying a new keyboard if you think it’s a goner or Google some more.

In my case the culprit was the Windows XP mode emulator on my Windows 7 OS. Despite not working in Windows XP mode I was unable to use Alt-Gr to write special characters like @$£ – only regular numbers was printed. Closed it, then boom, $$$ baby (sorry for that).

List of known programs blocking alt+gr (based on comments below):

  • Remote Desktop Connection
  • Windows XP Mode (Virtual PC)
  • EasyTune
  • VMWare vCenter
  • mRemote
  • VirtualBox
  • Ditto
  • Unknown wmp (winamp?) plugin
  • Visual Studio 2010 (an add-in perhaps?)
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  • Jon-Thomas Eliassen

    I had the same problem you had.
    Followed your tips number 2. In my case, closing Visual Studio 2010 solved my problem :-)

    • Kjetil__H

      Happy you resolved it :) hotkeys can be useful but also a major pain sometimes..

  • Thomas Brevig

    Closing RDP did the trick for me.

    • shrty

      Yes, indeed – this worked for me too. Unbelievable annoying when you’re trying to write $, { and } all time time ^^

    • Anon_

      jesus fuk, I had to google a lot just find someone mentioning RDP as the cause… THANKs!!

      and no need to close the RDP, just click on it, open a notepad, and use alt -gr
      than switch back to the main OS and alt-gr should be working again :)

  • Knut Erik Berg-Hansen

    Thanks / Takk :o)
    XP Mode was the culprit for me as well.

  • zanzes

    i found that a wmp plugin for global hotkeys was stopping me from using alt gr +1-5 :D

  • Leigh-Ann

    Closing off the RDP connection to another server fixed my issues too. Thanks Thomas.

  • Tamas

    Closing the RDP connection fixed my issues too. Thanks Thomas.

  • Pisboi

    Great post! For more details on the RDP / Alt Gr issue, see this link:
    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/926934

  • Lars

    Closing VMWare vCenter fixed it for me.

  • Magnus

    WTF RDP! o.O
    Thanks + takk.

  • http://evert.meulie.net Evert

    You can add VirtualBox to that list.

  • Daniel

    Uninstalling EasyTune from Gigabyte (program for the motherboard) – fixed my “bug” :-)

  • niklasringdahl

    Great! I saw lots of remote apps on the list and realized I had mRemote running. Closing that – boom {{{ baby!

  • Danzki

    EasyTune for me

  • Miguel

    You can add the “Hotkeys” (or “Teclas de atalho”) of the Intel Graphics Driver

  • http://www.lugatitturk.com/ Onur

    I never knew that remote desktop could block alt gr, because mostly it doesn’t. But now, closing RDP fixed it. Thanks for directing me to the solution.

  • Vineet Kansotia

    If the problem still persists, check your CLOCK,REGION..–>REGION AND LANGUAGE–> KEYBOARD AND LANGUAGES–> CHANGE KEYBOARD.
    Either it should be (en)UK(extended) or (en)US(international).
    Note – If your keyboard has # on the superscript of 2 instead of @, you should choose the UK one and if u are choosing the US one, please note apostrophe(‘)
    will only appear after hitting space after the apostrophe key.

  • Jan

    My problem was the program Ditto
    http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/

  • ascheix

    Clicking into VirtualBox (=focus) and then clicking back (unfocus) fixed it for me, thanks!

  • Skye

    The “wmp plugin” enables global hotkey support for Windows Media Player. http://wmpkeys.sourceforge.net/ Thanks to your blog post I finally tracked down that it was responsible for killing my AltGr key! Interestingly enough AltGr+E (€) wasn’t affected.

  • Pingulrik

    Clownfish for skype interferred with my altgr key as a hotkey. This helped me realize this. Thanks.

    • Markus

      Yeah helped me aswell!! Thanks!

  • logan

    The synaptics driver which has been released on 8.6.2015 blocks AltGr. Returning back to the driver from 16.10.2012 will bring back AltGr.

  • Christian Geiselmann

    In my case, the bad guy was Windows XP mode running. Indeed, after shutting Windows XP mode, AltGr functionality was available again. – However, on the long run, it would e good to have a solution for running Windows XP mode and anyhow having AltGr at hands. Any ideas how to achieve this?

  • oroxy.com

    This thread seems rather old, but I am still having the problem. In my case it was necessary to change the keyboard language layout and switch back.

  • Thomas Ehler

    Just kill ASUS GPU Tweak if you have that open…