For Emacs 26.3 running in terminal mode, I am trying to map a my-command to M-Z in org-mode by using the following code:

(with-eval-after-load org
   (define-key org-mode-map (kbd "<M-Z>") #'my-command))

But this does not work.

It works if I do this instead:

(with-eval-after-load org
    (define-key esc-map "Z" #'my-command))

But the latter binds my-command in the global map making it available everywhere, and I do not want that.

This behaves as if the esc-map takes precedence over the org-mode-map. I looked in org.el and I don't see that code copying anything from the esc-map defined in subr.el.

I thought it could because the org mode function has not yet run, so I tried adding the code inside a org-mode-hook as well (in addition to the above code):

  (defun pel--org-set-keys ()
    "Set keys."
    (if (boundp 'org-mode-map)
          (define-key org-mode-map (kbd "<M-Z>") #'my-command))
      (display-warning 'pel--org-set-keys
                       "org-mode-map not bound"
  (add-hook 'org-mode-hook (function pel--org-set-keys))

But that still does not work.

Why does the (define-key org-mode-map (kbd "<M-Z>") #'my-command) not work?

1 Answer 1


You don't want (kbd "<M-Z>"). You want (kbd "M-Z").

kbd expects the same key-description (name) syntax as that used by Emacs itself in *Help*. If you use C-h k followed by Meta + Shift + z then Emacs tells you that this is key M-z, not key <M-Z>.

  • It's been one of those days... Thanks.
    – PRouleau
    Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 22:24
  • ;-) It's easy to get confused with this stuff. Not to mention that the key description of M-Z is M-Z, but the key description of Ctrl + Shift + z is C-S-z, not C-Z!
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 0:44
  • :-), I started off modifying something that was <M-right> and wanted to transform it into M-Z and forgot to remove the angle brackets. Staring at the code I did not see the nasty angle brackets and was digging into how the key maps were handled... I also was focusing on the esc-map becuase of what I was into. I know that stuff, I should have just been looking at what I wrote... Oh well...
    – PRouleau
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 11:22
  • Thinking about it, I think I was focussing on what I might not know instead of what I knew... That's an example of why team work and code reviews are important!
    – PRouleau
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 11:27

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