I am new to the world of Emacs, so please forgive me if my question is too trivial.

I am trying to use standard console keybindings for Emacs too, by editing the configuration file. A few of them are in Emacs already, but I wanted to added some more.

I wanted to add keybindings for killing a part of the text.

My entries:

(global-set-key [C-h] 'backward-delete-char)
(global-set-key [C-w] 'backward-kill-word)
(global-set-key [C-u] 'backward-kill-sentence)

But I couldn't get these to work. I searched online and tried to use this, adding the following lines before the above lines:

(setq help-char nil)          ; To enable C-h for 'backward-delete-char
(setq kill-region nil)        ; To enable C-w for 'backward-kill-word
(setq universal-argument nil) ; To enable C-u for 'backward-kill-sentence

But that didn't help either. What am I doing wrong? How can I get it to work?

  • 2
    FWIW, you really, really do not want to rebind C-u to anything. C-u in Emacs is basic, pretty much hardcoded, fairly low-level, and used everywhere. Pick another key - really.
    – Drew
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


There are multiple ways to specify the key you want to bind. [C-u] doesn't work; if you're supplying a vector, you have to use it a little differently. From that link:

In the vector representation, each element of the vector represents an input event, in its Lisp form. See Input Events. For example, the vector [?\C-x ?l] represents the key sequence C-x l.

So this works:

(global-set-key [?\C-u] 'backward-kill-sentence)

Alternately, you can have a vector containing lists:

(global-set-key [(control ?u)] 'backward-kill-sentence)

But I find that using kbd makes things much easier to read. For example:

(global-set-key (kbd "C-u") 'backward-kill-sentence)
  • That is seriously weird. Your solution works, but what is the problem with [C-u]? I used [C-tab] just a few lines before that and it works flawlessly. What might be the reason behind [C-u] not working? Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 5:48
  • I'm not sure of all the rules here, honestly. I'm having a problem finding a single location with all the rules for how to specify keys. It might be related to treating the u in [C-u] not as the character u, but that's just a guess.
    – zck
    Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 5:50
  • 1
    @reza.safiyat To prevent confusion, sticking to the (kbd ..) convention will be the most convenient for its consistency. Commented Sep 9, 2015 at 13:01
  • zck what can i do for those who have minor-mode?
    – Rajanboy
    Commented Apr 2, 2022 at 15:35

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