Ergonomic Emacs

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Categories: Emacs Tags: Emacs Ergonomics

TV Raman recently wrote a nice post about his tips for achieving better typing ergonomics in Emacs. His tips are very good. He utilizes a combination of key remapping software, and changes some Emacs keymaps, while leaving the original key bindings in place.

  1. I have left-shift and right-shift emit C-s and C-r using XCape.
  2. I bound C-l to ctl-x-map (still experimental). This remapping fails to take effect in places like Dired and Gnus.
  3. I additionally bound find-file to C-; o.
  4. A long time ago, I discovered M-m (back-to-indentation) and I never hit C-a to move to the start of the line.
  5. When I remap things, I never take away the original Emacs bindings; I only provide alternatives.
  6. I use C-,, C-., C-;, and C-’ as prefix keys. Downside: these only work under X, but the time where I only ran Emacs in a terminal are long gone.

I basically don’t do any of this, but I think I have a pretty ergonomic setup1, and I don’t go to the same lengths to remap keys.

Here are my tips (some different, some complementary):

  1. Map Alt to Control. This way, you can press Control with a thumb curl (more comfortable than pinky.)
  2. Map Capslock to C-c.2 And place most of your personal keybindings on C-c <letter>, which follows the recommended convention. So, you can activate some of your common commands with Capslock <letter>. Since there is no chording, it’s relatively pain-free.
  3. Make more keymaps as necessary, and place them on function keys. So, as you need more commands, it’s still just two button taps. For example, I place help on symbol on <f2> <f2>.
  4. With the left-over function keys, bind them to commonly used window configuration commands: next-buffer, delete-other-windows, etc. Here is my function key setup:

;; ESC: leader keymap

;; f1: local leader keymap

;; f2: help leader keymap

;; f3

;; f4

;; f5

;; f6

;; f7: Go to scratch buffer

;; f8: previous buffer

;; f9: next buffer

;; f10: delete this window

;; f11: delete other windows

;; f12: switch window

I do remove some existing Emacs keymaps, but I only ever used f3/f4, so I’m not losing anything. ymmv.

  1. without using Evil or Meow…. Currently…↩︎

  2. Basically, to do this, you need to map Capslock to Escape at the OS level, then map ESC to C-c in Emacs.↩︎