I'm trying to remap some of the default key combinations in iTerm2, and would like to understand what is going on when I bind keys to "Send Hex Codes".

A previous post helped me get started with remapping the ctrl-a and ctrl-e key combos to cmd-left and cmd-right, respectively, but I would like to remap other key combos as well. (Link to previous Stackoverflow post).

I have a vague understanding that there are hex codes involved, but I am at a point where I can't figure out where to go next to understand what's going on or what to do.

  • Has nothing to do with bash. Removed tag.
    – jpaugh
    Commented Apr 28, 2013 at 2:02

5 Answers 5


Those hex codes are just sequences of bytes. For example mapping a key combination to 0x66 0x6f 0x6f would make it insert foo. 0xc3 0xa4 would insert ä if you use UTF-8. 0x1b 0x1b 0x5b 0x43 means escape escape [ C.

Some sequences of bytes like ANSI escape sequences and even single bytes like ASCII control characters have special meanings in terminals.

To make ⌘← and ⌘→ go to the beginning and end of line, you can assign them to 0x01 (^A in caret notation) and 0x05 (^E in caret notation):

  • ⌘←: Send Hex Codes: 0x01
  • ⌘→: Send Hex Codes: 0x05

You can make ⌥⌦ delete a word forward by assigning it to \ed:

  • ⌥⌦: Send ^[ d

Changing ⌥← and ⌥→ to \eb and \ef in iTerm's preferences would also change them in programs that don't support readline or emacs-style keybindings. Another option is to add this to ~/.inputrc:

"\e\e[D": backward-word
"\e\e[C": forward-word

You can run read and press key combinations to see what characters they insert. For example ⌥← inserts ^[^[[D by default, where ^[ is escape in caret notation.

See also http://code.google.com/p/iterm2/wiki/Keybindings.

  • Thanks. I run into this answer when looking up a solution for my question here. How can I look up the hex code for a specific key combination? (in my case I am interested in the combinations Ctrl+Alt+<char> with <char> being i, j, k, l and u) Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 15:05

I'd suggest to install Key Codes ($0) by Many Tricks and find out the shortcuts for yourself.

For instance if you want to remap the default shortcut for (forward) deleting a charcter – which is Ctrl-D (⌃D) – to be as simple as pressing the forward delete key (), you would…

  1. Open the app and press Ctrl-D

    Key Codes Example

  2. Back in iTerm 2, add the Unicode shortcut in iTerm > Preferences > Keys

    iTerm Send Hex Codes

Note: Don't copy and paste it, just type out the Unicode without spaces.

  • 1
    The action's value you input, should be 0x4, not 4/0x4
    – ahuigo
    Commented May 12, 2020 at 13:53

The best way that I found was either with sending keycodes (as described by @pattulus or using vim key bindings.

Note on key codes: Actually you cannot make it work by sending the unicode string as described above, you need to send both the modifier and the key to gether in case of Control+D you need to send this as code: 0x840101 0x4 where 0x840101 is the control key modifier and can be obtained through Key Code.

Note on sending as vim sequence: As described in iTerm2 documentation, you can send a key code in vim-bindings format such as \<C-d> for sending Control+D (note that \ is important).

I personally prefer vim key binding because it's more readable and later you will understand what you have done.


Check out Karabiner.

Within this tool you can create key custom mappings that are specific to applications. It comes with some tools to help with that.


PreferencesProfileKeys add the following shortcuts:

Send Escape Sequence Esc+ b

Send Escape Sequence Esc+ f

Send Escape Sequence Esc+ [H

Send Escape Sequence Esc+ [F

←Delete Send Hex Code 0x18 0x7f (add bindkey "^X\\x7f" backward-kill-line to .zshrc)

←Delete Send Hex Code 0x1B 0x08

Del→ Send Hex Code 0x0b

Del→ Send Escape Sequence d

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