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A command line tool to document and describe keyboard shortcuts in a standardized and properly formatted way.

The name of this program is a shorthand for (k)eyboard (s)hort(c)ut.

Inspired by and adapted from Brett Terpstra's kbd plugin for Jekyll.

Here's a few examples:

$ ksc -ms -p command shift %
$ ksc -y command shift option control t
$ ksc control +
$ ksc ⌘⇧F


You'll need Python 3. Install with pip:

$ pip install ksc

Specifying Keyboard Shortcuts

The simplest invocation of this program has some description of the keyboard shortcut as the arguments. Many variations of input are accepted. Capitalization is not important. You can use modifier key names and abbreviations, like Command and opt. You can use modifier key symbols such as and . You can use the ASCII symbols for modifiers that are used in the Cocoa Text System Key Bindings.

Keys can be any letter or symbol on the keyboard. In addition, you can type the name of a key, like esc, return, home, pageup, and rightarrow, F5, and eject. Most everything you try should just work. If it doesn't, open an issue and I'll add it. Here's some examples:

$ ksc command b
$ ksc shift F2
$ ksc fn f10
$ ksc command-option-rightarrow
Option-Command-Right Arrow
$ ksc command shift %
$ ksc $~r
$ ksc ⇧⌘P

Sequences of multiple keyboard shortcuts can be entered by separating them with a / or | (the spaces surrounding the slash or the pipe are required).

$ ksc control x / control c
Control-X Control-C

If you have a sequence of multiple keyboard shortcuts and the first one has a slash, you can clarify the shortcut by joining the elements of the shortcut with a -:

$ ksc command-/ / control-f
Command-/ Control-F

In addition to friendly modifier names, you can also enter keyboard shortcuts using unicode symbols or ASCII symbols representing the modifiers. The ASCII symbols are the same as those used by Apple in the Cocoa Text System Key Bindings.

Modifier Unicode ASCII
Control ^
Option ~
Shift $
Command @

Getting Help

You are currently reading the help for this program. You can see a brief summary by using the help command line option:

$ ksc -h

Customizing Output

The output is standardized according to Apple's Style Guidelines (see below), including names of modifiers, keys, capitalization, interpretation of shifted symbols and characters, and sequence of modifiers if there are more than one.

There are several command line options to modify the output. The -ms or --modifier-symbols options output the modifers as unicode symbols:

$ ksc -ms shift command u

Apple says you should include a plus sign between symbols, but I think that it looks ugly, so that's not the default. If you want it, add the -p or --plus-sign when using -ms:

$ ksc -ms -p shift command u

You can also have the modifier symbols output as their ASCII representation by using the -ma or --modifier-ascii options:

$ ksc -ma shift command u

The -k or --key-symbols argument causes all keys to be output as their symbol, instead of their name. Makes most sense when used with -ms:

$ ksc -ms -k control option pageup

The -c or --clarify-keys outputs some less-readable keys as names and symbols, instead of just symbols. This setting is ignored if you use -k. Here's you can see the difference when you use -c:

$ ksc command .
$ ksc -c command .
Command-Period (.)

Show Me The Keys

The alpha-numeric keys like T and 8 are easily known and understood. However, you may not know all the names and symbols for the other keys. You can get a list with:

$ ksc -l

Keyboard Maestro

I have created a simple Keyboard Maestro macro which allows you to use ksc anywhere you can type on your Mac. I set a typed input trigger so when I type ;ksc, Keyboard Maestro prompts me for input. I type in the keyboard shortcut I want, and Keyboard Maestro runs the script, captures the output, and then types the output where my cursor is.

Keyboard Maestro Macro for Keyboard Shortcut

Download the Keyboard Shortcut macro for Keyboard Maestro.


If you use Alfred, there is a Keyboard Shortcut workflow which uses the command line program. The workflow includes a snippet trigger of ksc. If your snippet prefix is //, then you can type //ksc and Alfred will prompt you for input, where you can type the text representation of a keyboard shortcut. Alfred will paste the standardized version at the location of the cursor.

Download the Keyboard Shortcut workflow for Alfred.

The Hyper Key

Using Karabiner Elements or BetterTouchTool, you can make Caps Lock-T be the same as pressing Control-Option-Shift-Command-T. Mac nerds call this the Hyper key. You can always use hyper as a modifier key when entering a keyboard shortcut:

$ ksc hyper-t

If you give the -y or --hyper command line option, you will get a Hyper key in your output when it's appropriate:

$ ksc -y control option shift command t
# ksc -y hyper t

Tips and Tricks

  • You can easily get the unicode symbol for a key and put it on your clipboard (on MacOS) with:

    $ ksc -k home | pbcopy
  • Because the tilde character ~ can mean both the Option key as well as Shift-Grave, the following input is ambiguous:

    $ ksc '$@~'

    Note the single quotes to protect all those special characters from being interpreted by your shell. This could either mean Shift-Command-~, which is valid, or Shift-Command-Option, which is not, therefore this input causes a parsing error. You can clarify by using:

    $ ksc command tilde


    $ ksc -c shift command grave
    Shift-Command-Tilde (~)

Apple Style

This program implements the rules given in Apple's Style Guide under definition "key, keys". Their deep links are not semantic and seem liable to change, so you'll just have to search for it.

If you strictly followed the Style Guide, the keyboard shortcut to take a screenshot would be Command-Shift-%. However, Apple never refers to it this way, they use Command-Shift-5. See Take screenshots or screen recordings on Mac. It appears the unwritten rule is that if the keyboard shortcut includes one of the number keys and shift, instead of showing the symbol you show the number.

Apple's Human Interface Guidelines conflict with the style guide:

For example, the keyboard shortcut for Help is Command-Question mark (?), not Shift-Command-Slash.

According to the style guide, it should be Command-Shift-Question mark

This program implements the style guide plus the unwritten rule, and ignores the conflict in the HIG.


A command line tool to document and describe keyboard shortcuts in a standardized and properly formatted way.







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