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
           information 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
           mappings, 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
   executed.  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
   having 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), supplemented by the keysym
   database    /usr/share/X11/XKeysymDB.    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.

           The  KEYSYMNAME  on  the  left  hand  side  is  translated into
           matching 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

           This  removes  all  entries  in  the modifier map for the given
           modifier, 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
           indicated  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
           evaluated  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
   frequently 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
   simply 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
   frequently  involves  exchanging  Backspace  with  Delete  to  be  more
   comfortable  to  the user.  If the ttyModes resource in xterm is set as
   well, all terminal emulator windows will use the same key  for  erasing
   %  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
   location  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.


   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.

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