I am running GNU Emacs on Ubuntu, using a Swedish PC-keyboard. When I use swedish-keyboard as my input method, shift-key combinations work fine (e.g. S-7 gives the '/' character). But I have found a few things that doesn't work properly:

  • Alt Gr-combinations: Alt Gr is interpreted as Meta-key, so when I press e.g. (Alt Gr + 7) I get M-7 instead of '{'. So I can't type '@','£','$','{','[',']','}','\' or '|' using swedish-keyboard. Is there a way to separate Alt and Alt Gr-key such that Alt is Meta-key and Alt Gr can be used for extended character input?
  • Misplaced characters: Pressing e.g. '<' on the keyboard produces a ';' character (shift+'<' gives ':'). Similarly, '§' gives '~', shift+'§' gives '^', '´' gives '§', shift+'´' gives '½', '¨' gives 'é', shift+'¨' gives 'É'. So there is no way to type '<','>','´','`' or accented characters other than 'é' and 'É'.

Is there a way to solve these issues? The way I solve it now is simply to toggle between swedish and american input whenever I need to type any of the unaccessible characters in the swedish input mode.

P.S. I am a bit of a noob on Emacs, so carefully explained solutions are appreciated.

  • One way to avoid those problems is to use the swedish-postfix input method instead of swedish-keyboard. That converts the sequences aa, ae, oe and e' to å, ä, ö and é, respectively, without affecting the keyboard layout.
    – legoscia
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 15:56
  • Well, my main issue is not that I want to easily write the Swedish letters 'å', 'ä' and 'ö'. Rather, I wish to access special characters, e.g. '(', '{' and '<', using the shift and Alt Gr combinations that I am used to, namely those on a Swedish keyboard layout. On an American keyboard, '(' is written as S-9, whereas on a Swedish keyboard, it is written as S-8.
    – emmm
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 21:07
  • Do you have these issues in other programs too, or is it just in emacs?
    – Jenny D
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 9:56
  • Nope, only in Emacs as far as I have discovered. The terminal cooperates with my swedish keyboard, so if I use -nw option, it works fine as well.
    – emmm
    Commented Jun 25, 2015 at 10:47
  • What makes this an issue? I've always used Emacs with Swedish keyboards, and have never had to bother with this. On different unix/linux flavours. (Not saying that it isn't a problem, just surprised.) Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 18:28

2 Answers 2


Okay, so I found the real problem, and it was not Emacs. The thing is that I connect to a remote Ubuntu computer from my Windows computer using PuTTy and Xming. I found that it not only in Emacs that I had the keyboard layout issue, but in all programs that open in another window. The default setting in Xming was American keyboard layout. I changed the settings to Swedish layout, and the problem was solved! Sorry to bother you all with this non-Emacs problem...

  • That's what I was hoping in my comment... I'm kind of glad I didn't find the time to dig into it :-)
    – Jenny D
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 9:42
  • 1
    Not a problem -- thanks for posting the steps you used to solve the problem. There's a built-in delay on accepting one's own answers -- please do so after 48 hours so that we can mark the question as answered.
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 10:23

I have a Portuguese keyboard but I use only use the English layout for editing in Emacs. My solution to write special characters is using digraphs. I myself use evil, so I do C-k ' e to insert é, for example. If you do not use evil, you could do something like:

(define-prefix-command 'digraph-map)
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c d") digraph-map)

(define-key digraph-map "'e" '(lambda () (interactive) (insert "é")))

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