I have a UK keyboard and this is setup and functioning on Ubuntu 21.04 with all of my apps. When I open emacs inside a terminal using emacs -nw it also correctly used the gb keyboard layout. However when opening emacs (27.2, built from repo) in a new frame from a call to emacs or clicking on the shortcut, it switches to a us keyboard layout. I am unable to get it to use a qwerty-gb layout.

I have tried setting in my config/calling interactively:

(setq quail-keyboard-layout 'pc105-uk)

However whatever I choose doesn't appear to have any impact.

I have also tried interactively calling set-input-method british. This has had some help in the shift+3 is now '£' instead of '#'. However other keys such as my '#' come out as '\'.

Please could I have some help?

  • Are you really using quail? It is not the default, and if you’re only typing English text it is never necessary.
    – db48x
    Jun 21, 2021 at 9:42
  • I don't think I am using it. I was trying to set that variable because I got the impression from other threads I had seen that it might do what I wanted.
    – Muff2n
    Jun 21, 2021 at 9:45
  • What does C-h I RET tell you?
    – db48x
    Jun 21, 2021 at 9:51
  • And for that matter, what about C-h L RET?
    – db48x
    Jun 21, 2021 at 9:58
  • Two answers because I normally use spacemacs, but I am trying to fix this problem on a default (no config) setup in the hopes if it being clearer. C-h I RET: When I start emacs with an empty .emacs.d, it says 'No input method is activated now.' C-h L RET: Default: 'English language environment [...]' Spacemacs, despite saying '(default current choice)' tells me about Burmese. I think this is a nonsensical answer. Edit: gah my newlines have disappeared, sorry that is ugly to read.
    – Muff2n
    Jun 21, 2021 at 10:06

1 Answer 1


I managed to resolve this issue by explicitly calling setxkbmap -model pc105 -layout gb in the terminal before opening emacs. I have added this to my .bashrc

The following thread was my inspiration for trying this: Unable to change keyboard layout in EXWM/Emacs27.1

  • It would be extremely useful to know what OS you’re using, and how your other applications had the correct keyboard layout if X Windows didn’t. On Linux, all applications ultimately ask X Windows to translate keycodes into characters; this includes Emacs.
    – db48x
    Jun 21, 2021 at 17:37
  • Ubuntu 21.04. Unfortunately I can't answer the second question, as I don't know about these things. It is a relatively new Ubuntu installation and I had just put all the language settings to english - gb and everything except emacs worked out of the box.
    – Muff2n
    Jun 22, 2021 at 13:51

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