MirBSD manpage: xmodmap(1)

XMODMAP(1)          UNIX Programmer's Manual           XMODMAP(1)


     xmodmap - utility for modifying keymaps and pointer button
     mappings in X


     xmodmap [-options ...] [filename]


     The xmodmap program is used to edit and display the keyboard
     modifier map and keymap table that are used by client appli-
     cations to convert event keycodes into keysyms.  It is usu-
     ally run from the user's session startup script to configure
     the keyboard according to personal tastes.


     The following options may be used with xmodmap:

     -display display
             This option specifies the host and display to use.

     -help   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 standard error.

             This option indicates that xmodmap should print log-
             ging information as it parses its input.

     -quiet  This option turns off the verbose logging.  This is
             the default.

     -n      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.

     -e expression
             This option specifies an expression to be executed.
             Any number of expressions may be specified from the
             command line.

     -pm     This option indicates that the current modifier map
             should be printed on the standard output.

     -pk     This option indicates that the current keymap table
             should be printed on the standard output.

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     -pke    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.

     -pp     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.

     The 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 .xmodmaprc.


     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 rede-
     fined in a natural way without having to worry as much about
     name conflicts.

     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 pro-
             gram).  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 used.

     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

             The KEYSYMNAME on the left hand side is translated
             into matching keycodes used to perform the
             corresponding set of keycode expressions. The list
             of keysym names may be found in the header file
             <X11/keysymdef.h> (without the XK_ prefix) or the
             keysym database __projectroot__/lib/X11/XKeysymDB.
             Note that if the same keysym is bound to multiple
             keys, the expression is executed for each matching


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             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.

             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).

             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 set-
             tings (button 1 generates a code of 1, button 2 gen-
             erates 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.

     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.


     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 comfort-
     able 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 fol-
     %  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

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     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 win-
     dows 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
     ! 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

     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

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     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
     clear Lock
     add Control = Control_R
     keycode 89 = Escape
     keycode 15 = Caps_Lock
     add Lock = Caps_Lock


     DISPLAY to get default host and display number.


     X(7), xev(1), Xlib documentation on key and pointer events


     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.

     Xmodmap 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.


     Jim Fulton, MIT X Consortium, rewritten from an earlier ver-
     sion by David Rosenthal of Sun Microsystems.

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