Super-power your keyboard with Karabiner
If you live inside Emacs (or the terminal), properly tuning your key bindings is paramount. Unfortunately every keyboard is different and, even more than that, pretty much every keyboard is now different that what was being used when the oldest and most useful tools around were being developed.
Vim becomes much more fluid when you have easy access to the
ESC key. Because
Vim is modal, it uses modifier keys very rarely, which means every time you
change from inserting text to any other type of operation, you have to press
ESC first (although you should be spending most of your time in normal mode
and dropping into insert, rather than vice-versa). The only problem with this?
ESC is **so** very far away from the home row. Its hard to picture a more
inconvenient place to put the
ESC key, at least on a Mac.
In console Vim, you can use
CTRL-[ because most terminal emulators recognize
this keystroke as identical to escape. This doesn’t work in graphical
environments, however. Therefore, many people map their
Caps Lock key to
ESC, at least on Macs. This is super convenient, because your left pinky
requires almost no effort to move over a centimeter. This has the added benefit
of making the keyboard aesthetically symmetric (at least in my opinion): left
pinky goes out to escape, right pinky goes out to enter. Yin and Yang, if you
Unlike Vim, Emacs is not is not inherently modal (although some might say that
Emacs just has dozens and dozens of smaller modalities instead of a few
all-encompassing ones), and therefore does make heavy use of modifier keys:
META, etc. I personally try to stay away from
META bindings as much
as possible and stick with
By far the most common way of making
CTRL more accessible on a Mac keyboard is
Caps Lock to
CTRL. After all, pretty much everyone agrees that the
size:usefulness ratio of
Caps Lock is way off the rails.
I use both Vim and Emacs style key bindings, via the Evil-mode Emacs
package. Therefore I want to figure out how to remap my keyboard in such a way
as to make both
ESC easily accessible, and obviously I can’t bind
them both to
Caps Lock, right?
Wrong! Karabiner allows us to be more nuanced about your key bindings. We can
Caps Lock to be like
ESC when we press it by itself (perfect for Vim),
but act like
CTRL when we use it as a modifier key (perfect for Emacs)! Even
better, we can do the exact same thing for the
RET key, making
CTRL twice as
accessible and maintaining that oh so sweet symmetry.
I’m really happy with the setup, and would recommend it to anyone who uses Emacs and Vim regularly.