After using Windows or Mac OS X as the guest OS in VMware for Linux, sometimes my ALT, SHIFT or CTRL keys break and stop working. So I can't use ALT+Tab, for example.

Does anyone know what the cause is, and how to fix that?

Is there a way to make the keys work again?

  • Not really related to the question, but if the same thing happens on a Windows host, pressing the Ctrl/Alt or Win Key quickly about 5 times in succession seems to "unstuck" the keys again.
    – user47977
    Jul 9, 2010 at 15:27

2 Answers 2


To fix the keys, just run:


And that should restore them to default behaviour.

  • 1
    As my Vmware Remote Console just crashed and I experienced the same issue, i shortly unplugged the keyboard and plugged it in again. This also did the trick ;) But thank you for the easier approach here ;)
    – Daywalker
    May 30, 2017 at 11:07

You may be experiencing the VM capturing your keystrokes. If I am running VMWare or Virtual box my CTRL+arrowKey no longer works for rotating desktop cube. Also Gnome-Do cannot be called up with super+spaceBar. If that's not what you mean, then it's probably Neil's suggestion.

PS: Don't forget to install the VM software on the guest operating system (if available) to enhance integration, but I doubt you could very easily get your keystrokes to happen on both guest and host at the same time.

  • I released control with CTRL+SHIFT+ALT already, and I've got VMware Tools installed. I'm not sure what's causing it.
    – Neil
    Sep 13, 2009 at 3:28

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