Caps Lock Remapping

You don’t really need your caps lock key. Seriously.

You can swap it with a different function that you use all of the time. I recommend switching it to the escape key. You can also change it to function as a control key. But why would you want to do this?


First, the caps lock key is modal, which means that much mayhem can result from misplaced keystrokes with the caps on, especially when working with complex text editors. There is little visual and no tactile feedback on the state of the caps lock. This inevitably leads to annoyances when the lock is on. There’s a reason that login dialogs always warn you when the caps lock is on.

Regardless of your text editor preferences, you stand to gain quite a bit from making this change if you use the keyboard even to a moderate degree. Imagine that an annoying dialog pops up and instead of clicking on the close button or invoking alt + F4 or sliding up to the Esc key, you can instead quickly disregard the window with a mere slide of your pinkie. When an application informs that you have unsaved changes on closing, pressing escape is a lot faster than figuring out which of the buttons on the dialog correspond to “please don’t disregard my changes.”

If you’re a Vim user, you stand to gain much more utility from having the caps lock key stand for ‘escape’ instead. Firstly, inadvertent caps lock use will kill you in Vim. Most of the normal mode commands are case-sensitive, so instead of going down ten lines, you’ve just concatenated the next ten lines. Whoops. Second, escape is the function that you invoke to get from whatever mode they are currently in to the normal mode. You press escape a lot. The saving here comes from sliding your left-hand’s pinkie finger over a tenth of an inch instead of having your hand travel two or more inches. Over the course of a year you will save about eight million miles. Instead of using the crufty caps lock key, you can just select a section and press “U”, and then the section will be converted to uppercase. That’s if you don’t want to hold shift down for like five seconds.

On the other hand, if you’re an Emacs junkie or general keyboard user, you might consider remapping the caps lock key to a control key. This is probably still more useful than the caps lock, and moving it up an inch makes it more accessible.

If you don’t like it, you can always go back! You can also remap something you use even more rarely (like the scroll lock key) to function as a caps key. But I get by fine without any caps.

So how do you do this?

For linux, I would try this tip. Another good start is doing a web search or going to this c2 page.


It takes about a week to get your muscle memory fully used to this. It takes longer if you have multiple computers that use different or default bindings. Once you get used to it though, you will be hooked.

If other people try to use your computer, they will be stymied in the unlikely event that they want to use the caps lock key for its intended purpose. So don’t let them use your computer. :)

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