xmodmap [-options ...] [filename]
The following options can be used with xmodmap(1):
The filename specifies a file containing xmodmap(1) expressions to be executed. This file is usually kept in the user's home directory with a name like .xmodmaprc.
The xmodmap(1) 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.
Lines that begin with an exclamation point (!) are taken as comments.
If you want to change the binding of a modifier key, you must also remove it from the appropriate modifier map.
Many pointers are designed so 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 three-button pointer as follows:
$ xmodmap -e "pointer = 3 2 1"
Many editor applications support the notion of Meta keys (similar to Control keys except that Meta is held down instead of Control). Some servers do not have a Meta keysym in the default keymap table, however, so one must be added manually. 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 do not 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) will not notice any change.
$ xmodmap -e "keysym Multi_key = Multi_key Meta_L"
One of the simpler, more convenient uses of xmodmap(1) 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(1) 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(1) 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(1) 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
The keycode command is useful for assigning the same keysym to multiple keycodes. Although it is not portable, it does make 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 a control key, makes F5 generate Escape, and makes Break/Reset into 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 clear Lock add Control = Control_R keycode 89 = Escape keycode 15 = Caps_Lock add Lock = Caps_Lock
Each 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.
The xmodmap(1) utility 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 your mappings.
Xlib documentation on key and pointer events