How to Hang Pictures With a Keyhole Opening

Linda Erlam
Take the guesswork out of picture hanging through planning.

After sorting and selecting your children's and family photos for your picture gallery, the next step is to hang the pictures on the wall. Some of the pictures may have typical wire hangers, which you probably know how to mount, but some may have a keyhole slot opening on the back of the frame where a nail or screw fits to keep the picture in place on the wall. If you do not have a lot of experience with keyhole pictures, the hangers may appear baffling. If you can use a screwdriver or drill, you can conquer the keyhole-picture hanger. Hang your pictures with a keyhole opening securely the first time; no guesswork and no extra holes to fill.

Step 1

Obtain bear-claw anchor hangers, or double-headed screws with heads large enough to stay in the topmost slot of the keyhole. If your picture weighs over 30 pounds, you will need a bear-claw screw with an anchor.

Step 2

Determine the approximate wall position for each picture. Trace around each picture in the grouping onto a large piece of butcher or brown wrapping paper and tape it to the wall if you are hanging several pictures at the same time. This gives you an idea of the picture layout for the wall. Remove the paper before hanging your pictures.

Step 3

Measure from the top edge of the picture frame to the top edge of the keyhole opening. Measure from the side edge of the picture frame to the side edge at the top of the keyhole opening.

Step 4

Place a small piece of painters' tape on the front of the picture at the junction of these measurements from the back. When complete, you will have marked the corresponding location of the keyhole opening onto the front of the picture.

Step 5

Pull off a dime-sized piece of removable adhesive and insert it inside the top straight slot of the keyhole opening.

Step 6

Slide a thumb tack, head side against the adhesive, into the keyhole opening. The point of the thumb tack sticks out at the end of the long slot of the keyhole. Wiggle the thumbtack to make good contact with the top surface of the tack and the adhesive; ensure that the point protrudes at a 90-degree angle from the surface of the frame.

Step 7

Hold the picture on the wall at its chosen location. Gently push on the spot marked with the painters' tape on the front of the picture.

Step 8

Remove the picture from the wall and remove the tack and adhesive from the keyhole.

Step 9

Insert a self-drilling wall anchor into the point marked by the tack, using a screwdriver or drill with the appropriate bit to match the screw, such as a flat-head or Phillips.

Step 10

Insert a bear-claw hanger into the anchor with a screwdriver or drill. You can use a regular screw, but the bear-claw screw also provides a ledge for the picture wires. It also eliminates screw adjustments which can damage the anchor.

Step 11

Hang the picture on the hanger.


Reusable adhesive is a putty-like product, sold in office supply, hardware and discount stores, used originally to hang posters on walls without marking the walls or making holes.


Bear-claw hangers are a screw with two heads positioned about 1/4 inch apart. The first head stops the screw head against the sheetrock, and the second one fits inside the keyhole opening on your picture frame. Find them in hardware stores.


If your picture has two keyhole hangers, mark and complete one edge first. Hang the picture on the completed hanger and hold the picture in place on the other edge. Level the top using a small level. Mark the remaining hanger location. Take the picture down to add the second hanger to the wall.