How can I make an alternative keyboard key (e.g. the Windows key) act as the meta key in emacs?

I am looking for a solution internal to emacs, so using xmodmap is out of the question.

  • You can remap keys per application (by having the window manager switch mappings on a window focus switch), but I don't know of a convenient way to do that. Xxkb does layout switching but I don't know how to configure it to move modifiers around. Apr 26, 2017 at 9:40

1 Answer 1


The following elisp may help you out. Just add it to your config.

(setq x-meta-keysym 'super)
  • Thanks! The line (setq x-super keysym 'meta) did the trick, but is not taking effect when running emacs in the terminal.
    – explaw
    Mar 26, 2017 at 23:33
  • 1
    @explaw Doing this in a terminal is completely different and may or may not be possible depending on which terminal emulator you use. You should ask a new question about this (since you mentioned xmodmap as an alternative here, your question was implicitly about X11). Apr 26, 2017 at 9:38
  • This was helpful; I did (setq x-super-keysym 'meta) to make GUI emacs work for as I wanted in Ubuntu
    – haksayng
    Aug 17, 2017 at 7:31

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