I'm using the emacs package on debian 10 and the dead keys for typing accents on characters (for instance, á) are no longer working. WHen I type the dead key, some kind of tiny window or artifact gets displayed, and then when I type the character itself the artifact disappears but nothing gets typed. I think I must have unwittingly toggled some option, because I haven't changed anything in locale,etc and all other applications except emacs work well re typing of accents. What can I do to get dead keys working again? Thanks

1 Answer 1


I have the same problem.

Reproduced with emacs -Q, version GNU Emacs 27.1 (build 1, x86_64-pc-linux-gnu, GTK+ Version 3.24.23, cairo version 1.16.0)

A workaround is disabling the input methods, as described in https://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/DeadKeys.

Namely the option of unsetting the XMODIFIERS environment variable works for me: env XMODIFIERS= emacs.

Launching emacs like this, the pop-up does not show and the XKB-defined dead keys produced the combined characters. I believe that this means giving up on all the fancy input method facilities provided by emacs, but I don't use those anyways.

The first workaround described in the Emacs Wiki, (require 'iso-transl), does not do anything for me.

  • Thanks very much. Your solution worked for me.
    – korppu73
    Jan 28, 2021 at 6:00
  • Any way to make this change permanent? i.e. so that emacs always begins with XMODIFIERS unset. THanks
    – Ajned
    Oct 30, 2022 at 9:00

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