I'm trying to get used to emacs (really trying).

I use a small apple keyboard.

I can't see (in physical terms) how I will ever be able to do C-x without dropping my gaze from the screen and what I am thinking about, to look down at the keyboard, to move left thumb to the left to hit C, then first finger to x (or even use two hands, completely interrupting touch typing and flow). Right now this feels like a serious problem for productivity and flow.

To crystallise the point, C-x seems incompatible with touch typing. Would that be a fair point to make? That's what my personal experience points to at this point.

Is there a solution? I notice that on the small apple keyboard the C-x are not immediately diagonally adjacent, unlike on some large keyboards. So, rebinding C-x to C-` would certainly be a bit less painful if that's a feasible option. But that key combination still requires complete interruption of the 'home' position for touch typing, requiring me to look down at hands.

I found How to use a Mac's Command key as a Control key? which suggests rebinding Cmd to control, and that would certainly be more ergonomic. But I don't want to override the systems cut command. I don't actually use the right Cmd much, so wonder about that. Surely others have had this problem, and I'd love to know what the best solution is.

  • 1
    I'm not sure where's your "control" (you say you press it with your left thumb, so it sounds like it's pretty close to the space bar), but the standard option AFAIK is to make your "caps-lock" key act as a "control" key, so you can conveniently hit it with your left pinky. At least, that's how I understand the scriptures and I wouldn't want to go against the will of the almighty.
    – Stefan
    Nov 2, 2018 at 12:17
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    Welcome to emacs.se! This appears to be a question about keyboard layout rather than emacs per se. If you are asking how to rebind C-x to something else, please rephrase the question (but please check for duplicate questions as well). Right now, this post is not well-suited to emacs.se since it aims at an open-ended discussion and opinion-based answers. Please try and rephrase your post to ask a discrete question.
    – Dan
    Nov 2, 2018 at 13:37
  • Thank you @Stefan. I'll try rebinding caps-lock. That's much more natural given the constraints of my hand (phils below doesn't seem to have any physical constraints to his hand!) I'm currently reading "Clojure for the brave and True" which didn't mention any of this hence I needed somewhere to find this information. Hopefully now sorted once I find how to rebind this, thanks.
    – mwal
    Nov 2, 2018 at 13:46
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    Not a problem. I suggest that you edit the post to try to rephrase the question to be more discrete. If it turns out to be a duplicate (if the question becomes “how can I rebind C-x”, it probably is), we can just mark the post as a duplicate.
    – Dan
    Nov 2, 2018 at 14:07
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    Let's be honest, Apple mini keyboard is... not the best keyboard for comfortable typing. Especially not for programs with higher requirements for keyboard (Vim users suffer even more on this keyboards since Esc doesn't exist there). Traditional way of pressing C-x and M-x is with both hands, not one. To make this more comfortable, people remap Capslock as Ctrl, but I found it even more comfortable to use Kinesis keyboard, where control keys are in the middle (thus, under your thumbs, not pinky, or the back of your hand).
    – wvxvw
    Nov 2, 2018 at 17:44

3 Answers 3


To crystallise the point, C-x seems incompatible with touch typing. Would that be a fair point to make?

I'm not sure how you've arrived at that conclusion. I can only assume it was "too quickly".

If we're defining "touch typing" simply as knowing where the keys are such that you can type them without looking, then C-x is no more "incompatible with touch typing" than any other key sequence.

Once the muscle memory is there, you can touch type it. As plenty of us do.

Admittedly your keyboard sounds a bit rubbish, so maybe get yourself a better keyboard?


If you're touch typing, the left thumb should not be a factor. Your left ring finger is used for 'x', and the left middle finger is used for 'c'. I have (as many other emacs users) switched my CAPS-LOCK key to be a control key, so the C-x C-c sequence is not an issue at all.


Emacs initial key bindings are not good, they are historical and out of modern context.

Try to look at this : http://ergoemacs.org/misc/ergoemacs_vi_mode.html

and this : http://ergoemacs.org/emacs/emacs_pinky.html

  • 1
    This is essentially a link-only answer, so it risks being deleted. Please summarize the info from those links that you think answers the question about C-x, in addition to showing providing the links. Thx.
    – Drew
    Dec 2, 2018 at 14:55

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