While staying in a New York hotel, I had the unfortunate experience of entering an elevator where someone had clicked the buttons for nearly every floor in the building.

At the time I simply got out at the next floor and waited for another elevator. However, I'm not sure what I would have done if there hadn't been a second elevator.

What can I do if someone presses every button in an elevator?

"It looks like a Christmas tree!"

  • This is a software problem. The number of highlighted buttons should be restricted to the maximum number of passengers at a time or less.
    – Pollitzer
    Aug 10, 2017 at 6:57
  • 1
    Many modern elevator controllers simply emulate the old relay operated units, because people are used to the way those work. Software control is generally limited to very tall buildings with lots of shafts and cars -- and if there are lots of shafts and cars in your section of the building, you're ahead to get off at the first stop and call another car after that one has left the floor.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 10, 2017 at 11:47
  • 2
    I've always wondered why elevator buttons don't go out again if you press them twice. This 'error correction' would save a lot of wasted time and energy, and just means adjusting the state machine that already controls the operation of the elevator.
    – user26063
    Nov 20, 2018 at 13:16
  • @user26063 Perhaps so that nobody else can cancel your selection when you push a button.
    – Lawrence
    Nov 22, 2018 at 10:16

9 Answers 9


My kids often do this...
Fortunately, the elevator in the place where we live allows to "cancel" floor buttons when several have been pressed. For this particular model of elevator, we can do it by very quickly pressing a button twice.
This was not explained anywhere in the building, I just noticed a friend once trying it in some other elevator. It just happened to work, and I consider it a bit like a "secret cheat code" of the elevator.

So, during your long ride to the floor, try different button presses combinations (twice or more, long presses, several buttons at once, etc.). You might discover the secret commands of your elevator!

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    Counterintuitive - if too many buttons have been pressed, start pressing even more buttons until the problem is fixed! Nov 20, 2018 at 13:21
  • @NuclearWang That sounds like the basis for a management joke.
    – Lawrence
    Nov 22, 2018 at 10:18

someone had clicked the buttons for nearly every floor in the building.

I've been in many elevators (only newer ones, though - say, from the last 20 years) in which when you've pressed the buttons for all the floors, they all get reset to unpressed/unselected state. Probably worth a shot, since they're almost all pressed anyway.


In some elevators there is a movable door sill for safety. If someone gets stuck with his foot between the hallway and the elevator while the door is open, a ledge in the floor will act as a switch, resetting all buttons.

You can misuse this at your own risk, don't tell anyone you've heard it from me. When the door is open, carefully put the tip of your foot in the gap of the floor between elevator and hallway and pull back the ledge.

These pictures are manipulated photos to create a simulation.

elevator safety door sill closed elevator safety door sill open

Many years ago I was living in an apartment building where I occasionally used this trick. I don't know if elevators are still constructed this way. Maybe it is only applied to elevator cabins that have no door of their own.

  • I've never seen one of those, and I've ridden in many different elevators. Modern ones have a bar on the closing door that does the same thing, but in my experience, doesn't unset the selected buttons.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 10, 2017 at 11:42
  • Thanks @Zeiss Ikon for your additional info. My elevator was one with a cheap and crude safety system I think.
    – Draakhond
    Aug 10, 2017 at 11:54

I read somewhere that some lifts (that have been programmed so), long pressing the button takes you straight to that floor. This is done by some manufacturers to cut short delays during emergency

For example, in our scenario, if you wish to go to floor 4, you could long press 4, and the lift would take you directly to the 4th floor without stopping at any other floor regardless of any button presses inside or outside the lift.

Though I've not tried this and so I'm not sure if it'd work for your lift. But it's worth a try.


It depends of elevator type, but some of them are allowed to be "reset", if elevator you use has a "STOP" button (or similar), then just press it few times. It helps in elevator I use to reset all buttons to be not-pressed. :-)

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    Can't say I've tried this. Most "Stop" buttons have an alarm bell attached, in my (very limited) experience. Many folks would rather not push them to cancel set buttons for that reason.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 10, 2017 at 12:52
  • Yes, you're right then. Elevator that I use has an extra button for alarm bell.
    – mariachi
    Aug 10, 2017 at 12:59
  • Agree with @ZeissIkon, unless it were an emergency, I wouldn't hit the STOP button in an elevator (for fear it wouldn't start again). Nov 20, 2018 at 13:23

Your proposed solution of getting off and waiting for another car makes sense to me. Of course, you may just relax and enjoy the ride --- much better for the heart and mind than anger and unhealthy thoughts about the perpetrator.


Just happen this with me a week ago,was going down As I was on 10th /F found that no body was in lift and light was indicating up ^, So I enter the lift and saw all button were pressed so when the lift door were opening on evey floor I try to press Close door button and it still save time because the lift are old.

Secondly In My campus elevator are new with new functions, If someone has press button so you can double press the button to remove/skip that floor. sometime when a friendly teacher press the buttton students would double press to take teacher with them to other floor. Laslty anyone worked as a repairman of elevator will know more about elevator tricks.


Take the stairs.

Really surprised no one has suggested this yet - get out of the elevator and hoof it! You'll be more likely to save time if you're not going too far or if you're headed downstairs, but either way you won't have to deal with the frustration of stopping on every floor.

  • I've been in far too many buildings where the only exit from the stairwell is the ground floor (for evacuations), and if there's enough floors for this to be a true irritation instead of a minor nuisance, the person involved is going up or down a considerable number of floors. Not to mention whatever they may be transporting, or if they're physically unable to take the stairs.
    – Allison C
    Nov 20, 2018 at 15:32

If there's only one elevator, unless you have a fire key, there's nothing you can do, other than beat up the elf. FWIW, getting off and waiting for the next car is unlikely to save you any time, though it might save you getting arrested for beating up the elf.

  • There's probably a formula that determines whether getting off would save time or not. For example, if you're at the bottom of a 3-story building, it won't save time, but if you're at the bottom of a 100-story building, it will. Other factors include the number of elevators and how busy they are (how many people are using them). Maybe the elf knows the answer? Aug 9, 2017 at 19:44
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    It's easily proven that you gain nothing by taking a car going the wrong way when waiting for an elevator (the worst you'll do by waiting for the correct car is to catch the same car going back; any other car will do better). As you note, how many floors and how many cars affects this strongly. Beating up the elf doesn't actually help, except it may prevent others from suffering in the future.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 10, 2017 at 11:44
  • You could of course start walking instead of simply waiting for the next elevator. May not bring you there faster but it is better for your health.
    – Willeke
    Aug 10, 2017 at 20:31
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    That's if you're in a building that has accessible stairwells. The one where I worked on the 28th floor for ten years had the stairwells locked -- if you went in, you could only get out at the street.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 11, 2017 at 11:03
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    @Willeke They called it security. Someone who entered the stairwell on a non-secure floor couldn't walk up or down to exit on the secure floors. Would have made more sense to put secure floor locks with the same RFID readers as the doors by the elevators, but would have cost more.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 11, 2017 at 17:40

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