I am a heavy Emacs user and would love to have some of my Emacs keyboard bindings when editing text on other apps.

I understand I could program these macros with Keyboard Maestro manually, but I was surprised I could not find any pre-defined macros for this. Before I reinvent the wheel, are there any repositories of keyboard maestro macros out there? Does Keyboard Maestro come with any set of macros that facilitate this process?

1 Answer 1


Keyboard Maestro macros often have noticeable delays and it's not really the best method for keyboard remapping.

You could create ~/Library/KeyBindings/ and save a property list like this as DefaultKeyBinding.dict instead:

  "~b" = moveWordBackward:;
  "~f" = moveWordForward:;
  "~F" = moveWordForwardAndModifySelection:;
  "~B" = moveWordForwardAndModifySelection:;
  "~d" = deleteWordForward:;
  "~u" = (uppercaseWord:, moveForward:, moveForward:);
  "~l" = (lowercaseWord:, moveForward:, moveForward:);
  "~c" = (capitalizeWord:, moveForward:, moveForward:);
  "~v" = pageUp:;
  "~V" = pageUpAndModifySelection:;
  "^V" = pageDownAndModifySelection:;
  "^ " = setMark:;
  "^w" = deleteToMark:;
  "~<" = moveToBeginningOfDocument:;
  "~>" = moveToEndOfDocument:;
  "~/" = complete:;
  "^l" = selectParagraph:;
  "~h" = selectParagraph:;
  "^_" = undo:;
  "^/" = undo:;
  "^x" = {
    "^x" = swapWithMark:;
    "^m" = selectToMark:;

DefaultKeyBinding.dict doesn't work in some applications like Xcode or Firefox. Key combinations that enter dead key states (like ⌥U in the U.S. keyboard layout) can't be reassigned. There are also methods like performClose: and openDocument:, but they don't work in all applications. See http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~jrus/site/KeyBindings/Emacs%20Esc%20Bindings.dict or http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~jrus/site/selectors.html.

Another option is to use a private.xml like this with KeyRemap4Macbook:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::P, VK_CONTROL | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_UP</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::N, VK_CONTROL | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_DOWN</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::B, VK_CONTROL | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_LEFT</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::F, VK_CONTROL | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_RIGHT</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::P, VK_CONTROL | VK_SHIFT | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_UP, VK_SHIFT</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::N, VK_CONTROL | VK_SHIFT | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_DOWN, VK_SHIFT</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::B, VK_CONTROL | VK_SHIFT | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_LEFT, VK_SHIFT</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::F, VK_CONTROL | VK_SHIFT | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_RIGHT, VK_SHIFT</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::B, VK_OPTION | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_LEFT, VK_OPTION</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::F, VK_OPTION | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_RIGHT, VK_OPTION</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::B, VK_OPTION | VK_SHIFT | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_LEFT, VK_OPTION | VK_SHIFT</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::F, VK_OPTION | VK_SHIFT | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::CURSOR_RIGHT, VK_OPTION | VK_SHIFT</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::D, VK_OPTION | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::FORWARD_DELETE, VK_OPTION</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::V, VK_OPTION | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::PAGEUP</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::V, VK_OPTION | VK_SHIFT | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::PAGEUP, VK_SHIFT</autogen>
    <autogen>__KeyToKey__ KeyCode::V, VK_CONTROL | VK_SHIFT | ModifierFlag::NONE, KeyCode::PAGEDOWN, VK_SHIFT</autogen>

The key codes have to be changed for keyboard layouts like Dvorak or Colemak. EMACS_MODE_IGNORE_APPS includes terminal emulators, Emacs applications, and VMs, but you can also add custom appdef elements.

There is also a predefined Emacs mode group, but for example the setting for changing ⌥F to ⌥→ also changes ⌥⌘F to ⌥⌘→.

  • Thanks! How does the link to EMACS_MODE_IGNORE_APPS relate to the private.xml snippet that you included in the answer? Feb 4, 2014 at 1:59
  • 1
    The private.xml includes <not>{{EMACS_MODE_IGNORE_APPS}}</not> which makes it not apply to the applications that are listed on the linked page.
    – Lri
    Feb 4, 2014 at 17:09
  • It seems DefaultKeyBinding.dict option does not work in El-Capitan anymore, any suggestions? btw, there is a similar answer in apple.stackexchange.com/questions/68716/…
    – zeliboba
    Oct 27, 2018 at 2:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .