I am not able to bind Meta + Shift + any character.

I do not experience these problems with other key combinations (such as Control + Shift + Key).

Below is the specific case that I cannot get to work:

(global-set-key (kbd "M-S-Z") 'zap-up-to-char-backward)
(defun zap-up-to-char-backward (char)
  (interactive "cZap up to char (backward): ")
  (zap-up-to-char -1 char))
  • Maybe M-S-<char> is intercepted by your DE for its own nefarious purposes? It may be that Emacs never sees it.
    – NickD
    Oct 14, 2020 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


M-S-Z would mean Meta + Shift + Z. But Z (uppercase) is itself what Emacs uses for Shift> + z.

There's likely no key on your keyboard corresponding to S-Z. That's why you say it doesn't work.

If you use C-h b you'll find your key binding listed OK. And if you use C-h w zap-up-to-char-backward you'll see that it says it's bound to M-S-Z.

The problem is that you have no way of typing such a key sequence with your keyboard.

C- is special, in that C-Z is interpreted as the Control character C-z, that is, ASCII Control Z.

It's unclear what you really want to do. Do you want to bind keyboard key combination Meta + Shift> + z? If so, use (kbd "M-Z"), not (kbd "M-S-z") or (kbd "M-S-Z").

  • That solved it -- thanks! I guess the C- case got me confused, thinking M- would follow a similar pattern.
    – jloow
    Oct 15, 2020 at 11:10
  • Both C- and M- are a bit special, for different reasons: C- because of ASCII control chars and M- because of the use of ESC etc.
    – Drew
    Oct 15, 2020 at 15:38

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