utility for modifying keymaps and pointer button mappings in X
see also :
X - xev - setxkbmap
[-options ...] [filename]
add an example, a script, a trick and tips
Many pointers are designed such that the first button is pressed
using the index finger of the right hand. People who are
left-handed frequently find that it is more comfortable to
reverse the button codes that get generated so that the primary
button is pressed using the index finger of the left hand. This
could be done on a 3 button pointer as follows:
% xmodmap -e "pointer = 3 2 1"
Many applications support the notion of Meta keys (similar to
Control keys except that Meta is held down instead of Control).
However, some servers do not have a Meta keysym in the default
keymap table, so one needs to be added by hand. The following
command will attach Meta to the Multi-language key (sometimes
labeled Compose Character). It also takes advantage of the fact
that applications that need a Meta key simply need to get the
keycode and don’t require the keysym to be in the first
column of the keymap table. This means that applications that are
looking for a Multi_key (including the default modifier map)
won’t notice any change.
% xmodmap -e "keysym Multi_key = Multi_key Meta_L"
Similarly, some keyboards have an Alt key but no Meta key. In
that case the following may be useful:
% xmodmap -e "keysym Alt_L = Meta_L Alt_L"
One of the more simple, yet convenient, uses of xmodmap is
to set the keyboard’s "rubout" key to generate an alternate
keysym. This frequently involves exchanging Backspace with Delete
to be more comfortable to the user. If the ttyModes
resource in xterm is set as well, all terminal emulator
windows will use the same key for erasing characters:
% xmodmap -e "keysym BackSpace = Delete"
% echo "XTerm*ttyModes: erase ^?" | xrdb -merge
Some keyboards do not automatically generate less than and
greater than characters when the comma and period keys are
shifted. This can be remedied with xmodmap by resetting
the bindings for the comma and period with the following scripts:
! make shift-, be < and shift-. be >
keysym comma = comma less
keysym period = period greater
One of the more irritating differences between keyboards is the
location of the Control and Shift Lock keys. A common use of
xmodmap is to swap these two keys as follows:
! Swap Caps_Lock and Control_L
remove Lock = Caps_Lock
remove Control = Control_L
keysym Control_L = Caps_Lock
keysym Caps_Lock = Control_L
add Lock = Caps_Lock
add Control = Control_L
This example can be run again to swap the keys back to their
The keycode command is useful for assigning the same
keysym to multiple keycodes. Although unportable, it also makes
it possible to write scripts that can reset the keyboard to a
known state. The following script sets the backspace key to
generate Delete (as shown above), flushes all existing caps lock
bindings, makes the CapsLock key be a control key, make F5
generate Escape, and makes Break/Reset be a shift lock.
! On the HP, the following keycodes have key caps as listed:
! 101 Backspace
! 55 Caps
! 14 Ctrl
! 15 Break/Reset
! 86 Stop
! 89 F5
keycode 101 = Delete
keycode 55 = Control_R
add Control = Control_R
keycode 89 = Escape
keycode 15 = Caps_Lock
add Lock = Caps_Lock
Why won't my xmodmap command run on startup/login?
Some systems look for a file named
execute the commands found there. Try putting these lines in that
keysym Delete = Menu
keysym Menu = Delete
Binding Super+C Super+V to Copy and Paste
Probably Windows key is modifier key. run this and try again:
xmodmap -e 'remove Mod4 = Super_L'
Changing the Mod key in Awesome WM
I have a file with these two lines in my home:
keysym Caps_Lock = Super_L
It gets called from my rc.lua like this:
Xmodmap: Six characters to one key?
Put lines like the following in your
keycode 0x2D = k K U03BA U039A U0915 U05DB U0137 U0136
The keycode can be obtained by running
pressing the key. If you're starting from a known state, for
example, a US keyboard layout, you can use the keysym already
assigned to the key, as in
keycode k = k K U03BA U039A U0915 U05DB U0137 U0136
The 8 columns on the right of the
successively correspond to the bare key, Shift,
AltGr, AltGr+Shift, and repeat
these four with ISO_Level3_Shift as well.
The words on the right of the
= sign are keysyms.
You can find valid keysym names in
/usr/include/X11/keysymdef.h (or wherever your
keysymdef.h); look for lines of
#define XK_foo 0xabcd /* ... */:
foo is the keysym name. You can also use U1234 where
1234 is the number of a unicode character in
hexadecimal (for â€œexoticâ€
?, that's often the only option).
Final warning: there are two ways to configure the keyboard under
X. Xmodmap is the simple way. Xkb is another way; it's more
powerful, a lot more complex, and less well documented. Sometimes
xkb settings can prevent xmodmap settings from working: the xkb
configuration can affect what modifiers the xmodmap columns
Remapping characters in xmodmap
Have you tried
and checked that these lines still appear in that form in the
output? There could be other startup scripts that override some
of your settings...
How do I swap Alt and Windows keys with xmodmap?
This is my Xmodmaprc:
! Exchange left Alt and left Win
remove mod1 = Alt_L
remove mod4 = Super_L
add mod1 = Super_L
add mod4 = Alt_L
! Exchange tilde and lesser/greater
keycode 94 = grave asciitilde dead_grave dead_tilde grave asciitilde
keycode 49 = less greater less greater bar brokenbar bar brokenbar
! Steve, your keyboard sucks
You'll have to modify your .xsession or .xinitrc to call xmodmap
How to rebind AltGr+a to \ with xmodmap?
xmodmap -pke lists the configuration of the current
layout. I had to add the following lines to my
keycode 38 = a A a A backslash AE ae
keycode 39 = s S s S bar section ssharp
How to swap Ctrl and Windows keys with xmodmap
If your only aim is to swap
Lock, then the file you're generating might be a bit
setxkbmap to change the layout, as
xmodmap has failed across THE setup of my various
setxkbmap -option rctrl:swapcaps
and I put that into my
Also note that when experimenting,
resets everything back to the initial layout.
EDIT: I found
this over on http://askubuntu.com, which also
describes resetting using
xmodmap program is used to edit and display the
keyboard modifier map and keymap table that
are used by client applications to convert event keycodes
into keysyms. It is usually run from the user’s
session startup script to configure the keyboard according
to personal tastes.
options may be used with xmodmap:
This option specifies the host
and display to use.
This option indicates that a brief description of the
command line arguments should be printed on the standard
error channel. This will be done whenever an unhandled
argument is given to xmodmap.
This option indicates that a
help message describing the expression grammar used in files
and with -e expressions should be printed on the
This option indicates that
xmodmap should print logging information as it parses
This option turns off the verbose logging. This is the
This option indicates that xmodmap should not
change the mappings, but should display what it would do,
like make(1) does when given this option.
This option specifies an
expression to be executed. Any number of expressions may be
specified from the command line.
This option indicates that the current modifier map
should be printed on the standard output. This is the
default mode of operation if no other mode options are
This option indicates that the current keymap table
should be printed on the standard output.
This option indicates that the current keymap table
should be printed on the standard output in the form of
expressions that can be fed back to xmodmap.
This option indicates that the current pointer map
should be printed on the standard output.
A lone dash means that the standard input should be used
as the input file.
filename specifies a file containing xmodmap
expressions to be executed. This file is usually kept in the
user’s home directory with a name like
to get default host and display number.
The xmodmap program reads a list of expressions and parses
them all before attempting to execute any of them. This makes it
possible to refer to keysyms that are being redefined in a
natural way without having to worry as much about name conflicts.
The list of keysym names may be found in the header file
<X11/keysymdef.h> (without the XK_ prefix),
supplemented by the keysym database
/usr/share/X11/XKeysymDB. Keysyms matching Unicode
characters may be specified as "U0020" to "U007E" and "U00A0" to
"U10FFFF" for all possible Unicode characters.
keycode NUMBER = KEYSYMNAME ...
The list of keysyms is assigned to the indicated keycode (which
may be specified in decimal, hex or octal and can be determined
by running the xev program). Up to eight keysyms may be
attached to a key, however the last four are not used in any
major X server implementation. The first keysym is used when no
modifier key is pressed in conjunction with this key, the second
with Shift, the third when the Mode_switch key is used with this
key and the fourth when both the Mode_switch and Shift keys are
keycode any = KEYSYMNAME ...
If no existing key has the specified list of keysyms assigned to
it, a spare key on the keyboard is selected and the keysyms are
assigned to it. The list of keysyms may be specified in decimal,
hex or octal.
keysym KEYSYMNAME = KEYSYMNAME ...
The KEYSYMNAME on the left hand side is translated into
matching keycodes used to perform the corresponding set of
keycode expressions. Note that if the same keysym is bound
to multiple keys, the expression is executed for each matching
This removes all entries in the modifier map for the given
modifier, where valid name are: Shift, Lock,
Control, Mod1, Mod2, Mod3,
Mod4, and Mod5 (case does not matter in modifier
names, although it does matter for all other names). For example,
’’clear Lock’’ will remove all any keys
that were bound to the shift lock modifier.
add MODIFIERNAME = KEYSYMNAME ...
This adds all keys containing the given keysyms to the indicated
modifier map. The keysym names are evaluated after all input
expressions are read to make it easy to write expressions to swap
keys (see the EXAMPLES section).
remove MODIFIERNAME = KEYSYMNAME ...
This removes all keys containing the given keysyms from the
indicated modifier map. Unlike add, the keysym names are
evaluated as the line is read in. This allows you to remove keys
from a modifier without having to worry about whether or not they
have been reassigned.
pointer = default
This sets the pointer map back to its default settings (button 1
generates a code of 1, button 2 generates a 2, etc.).
pointer = NUMBER ...
This sets the pointer map to contain the indicated button codes.
The list always starts with the first physical button. Setting a
button code to 0 disables events from that button.
Lines that begin with an exclamation point (!) are taken as
If you want to change the binding of a modifier key, you must
also remove it from the appropriate modifier map.
Every time a
keycode expression is evaluated, the server generates
a MappingNotify event on every client. This can cause
some thrashing. All of the changes should be batched
together and done at once. Clients that receive keyboard
input and ignore MappingNotify events will not notice
any changes made to keyboard mappings.
should generate "add" and "remove"
expressions automatically whenever a keycode that is already
bound to a modifier is changed.
There should be
a way to have the remove expression accept keycodes
as well as keysyms for those times when you really mess up
X , xev ,
setxkbmap , XStringToKeysym, Xlib documentation
on key and pointer events
Jim Fulton, MIT
X Consortium, rewritten from an earlier version by David
Rosenthal of Sun Microsystems.