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Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

xmodmap (1)


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


xmodmap [-options ...] [filename]


XMODMAP(1)                  General Commands Manual                 XMODMAP(1)

       xmodmap  - utility for modifying keymaps and pointer button mappings in

       xmodmap [-options ...] [filename]

       The 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.

       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

               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  its  version
               information and exit.

               This  option indicates that xmodmap should print logging infor-
               mation as it parses its input.

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

       -n      This  option  indicates that xmodmap should not change the map-
               pings, 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.   This is the default mode of
               operation if no other mode options are specified.

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

       -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 exe-
       cuted.  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 redefined in a natural way without hav-
       ing 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).  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 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 octal.

       keysym KEYSYMNAME = KEYSYMNAME ...
               The KEYSYMNAME on the left hand side is translated into  match-
               ing  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 keycode.

       clear MODIFIERNAME
               This removes all entries in the modifier map for the given mod-
               ifier, 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  indi-
               cated  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 eval-
               uated  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 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 such that the first button is pressed using
       the index finger of the right hand.  People who  are  left-handed  fre-
       quently  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 sim-
       ply 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 fre-
       quently involves exchanging Backspace with Delete to be  more  comfort-
       able  to  the  user.  If the ttyModes resource in xterm is set as well,
       all terminal emulator windows will use the same key for erasing charac-
       %  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  loca-
       tion  of  the Control and CapsLock 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  previous

       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
       ! 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.

       See attributes(7) for descriptions of the following attributes:

       |Availability   | x11/x11-server-utilities |
       |Stability      | Volatile                 |

       X(7),  xev(1),  setxkbmap(1), XStringToKeysym(3), 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  version  by
       David Rosenthal of Sun Microsystems.

       Source  code  for open source software components in Oracle Solaris can
       be found at https://www.oracle.com/downloads/opensource/solaris-source-

       This     software     was    built    from    source    available    at
       https://github.com/oracle/solaris-userland.   The  original   community
       source   was   downloaded  from   ['https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xhost-1.0.8.tar.bz2',      'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xrefresh-1.0.6.tar.bz2',   'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xinput-1.6.3.tar.bz2',     'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/rgb-1.0.6.tar.bz2',        'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xset-1.2.4.tar.bz2',       'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xsetroot-1.1.2.tar.bz2',   'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xrdb-1.2.1.tar.bz2',       'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xrandr-1.5.1.tar.gz',      'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xmodmap-1.0.10.tar.bz2',   'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xprop-1.2.5.tar.bz2',      'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-
       ual/app/xgamma-1.0.6.tar.bz2',     'https://www.x.org/releases/individ-

       Further information about this software can be found on the open source
       community website at https://www.x.org.

X Version 11                    xmodmap 1.0.10                      XMODMAP(1)