Emacs: Xah Fly Keys
2021-02-21 now supports pt-nativo layout (for Portuguese). Thanks to xavierpinho. [see Ergonomic Keyboard Layout for Portuguese: pt-Nativo]
2021-02-09 now supports ergo layouts for germany: neo2, koy, adnw. Thanks to VitruvianVice.
2020-07-12 the old version of xah fly keys before the key engine change on 2020-04-27 is now at xah-fly-keys_old_2020-04-18.el
2020-04-27 Major engine rewrite, by Dan Langlois and Will Dey (wi11dey). Big thank you. Now, xah fly keys has priority, won't have the very annoying problem in modes like magit and org. In next few days am going to update the customization page. Vast majority of code will work as is. If you have problem, goto xahlee discord, or file a bug report.
xah-fly-keys is more efficient than vim, or any keybinding set in history.
xah-fly-keys.el is a modal editing mode for emacs, like vi, but the design of key/command choice is based on command frequency statistics and ease-of-key score. Most frequently used commands have most easy keys.
If you have hand pain from using emacs, consider using xah-fly-keys. Never need to press Ctrl+x and never need to press Meta anymore.
If you like to watch a video intro, here it is.
Download at https://github.com/xahlee/xah-fly-keys
Also on MELPA http://melpa.org/#/xah-fly-keys
[see Emacs: Install Package with ELPA/MELPA]
After you installed from MELPA, put the following in your init:
(require 'xah-fly-keys) (xah-fly-keys-set-layout "qwerty") ; required ;; possible layout values: azerty, azerty-be, colemak, colemak-mod-dh, dvorak, programer-dvorak, qwerty, qwerty-abnt, qwerty-no (qwerty Norwegian), qwertz, workman, norman, neo2, koy, adnw (xah-fly-keys 1)
Put the file
Put the following in your emacs init:
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/lisp/") (require 'xah-fly-keys) (xah-fly-keys-set-layout "qwerty") ; required ;; possible layout values: azerty, azerty-be, colemak, colemak-mod-dh, dvorak, programer-dvorak, qwerty, qwerty-abnt, qwerty-no (qwerty Norwegian), qwertz, workman, norman, neo2, koy, adnw (xah-fly-keys 1)
What Does Command Mode Do?
When in command mode:
- Right hand letter keys are moving cursor, in general. For example, i j k l , are arrows.
- Left hand letter keys are deleting/modifying text.
Key to Activate Command Mode
The command to activate command mode is
By default, it has the following keys:
Alt+Space or Home or F8 or ▤ Menu (the menu key is the key on Microsoft keyboards, usually besides right Ctrl)
Command Mode Visual Indicator
- When in command mode, the cursor shape is a black rectangle ▮ (won't work in some text terminal).
- When in command mode, the first character in emacs status bar (aka mode line) displays capital C.
When in insert mode, keys insert characters. (or, whatever a letter key does in the current major mode. For example, in dired, m marks a file.)
Key to Activate Insert Mode
The command to activate insert mode is
When in command mode, f activates insertion mode.
When in command mode, Space Space also activates insertion mode.
Insert Mode Visual Indicator
- When in insert mode, the cursor shape is a i-beam ⌶. (won't work in some text terminal)
- When in insert mode, the first character in emacs status bar (aka mode line) displays capital I.
Leader Key for Commands
You NEVER need to press Ctrl+x.
- Ctrl+x b (
switch-to-buffer) is Space f
- Ctrl+x Ctrl+f (
find-file) is Space i e
- Ctrl+x 1 (
delete-other-windows) is 3 while in command mode.
The first key in a key sequence we call it the “leader key”. For example, the Space is the leader key in Space f.
When in command mode, the Space is a leader key.
Here's example of frequently used ones.
- Space Space →
- Space Enter →
- Space f →
- Space h →
- Space n →
- Space r →
- Space k r →
There are about 200 commands with leader key sequence. Most frequently used commands have 2 keys Other commands have 3 keys. Some rarely used have 4.
Use Which-Key-mode to Help Learn Leader Sequence
When learning xah-fly-keys, i recommend using which-key at https://github.com/justbur/emacs-which-key
With which-key on, when you press a leader key, subsequent keys and commands are displayed.
When in command mode:
- a →
- Space Return →
NEVER Need to Press Meta
Any emacs command that has a Meta keybinding also have a keybinding without Meta in xah-fly-keys.
- Alt+f (
forward-word) is o while in command mode.
- Alt+% (
query-replace) is Space r while in command mode.
To find the key,
describe-key, then press the meta key combination. Emacs will print all its keybinding.
Standard Control Key Shortcuts
The following standard keys are supported by default. (they can be disabled.)
- Ctrl+Tab →
- Ctrl+Shift+Tab →
- Ctrl+v → Paste.
- Ctrl+w →
- Ctrl+z →
- Ctrl+n →
- Ctrl+o → open.
- Ctrl+s →
- Ctrl+Shift+s → Save As.
- Ctrl+Shift+t →
- Ctrl++ → zoom-in.
- Ctrl+- → zoom-out.
It is not necessary to use these key shortcuts. These commands all have keys that do not need Ctrl.
The only time you need to press Ctrl key are:
- Ctrl+c for major mode commands.
- Ctrl+g for cancel.
- Ctrl+q for
- Ctrl+h for help.
When in command mode, n starts
When in isearch:
- Ctrl+y to paste.
- left/right arrow keys ← → do search backward/forward.
- up/down arrow keys ↑ ↓ do previous/next search history.
- Return exit isearch and leave cursor at the current location.
- Ctrl+g exit isearch and leave cursor at original location.
Dired Mode, Org Mode, Single Keys
In plain GNU Emacs, in some modes, typing a letter key does not insert letter, but runs a special command. For example, in dired, m for mark, u for unmark.
With xah-fly-keys, when in insert mode, typing letter key will do whatever of that mode's commands.
Xah Fly Keys Tutorial
Emacs: Xah Fly Keys Tutorial
Emacs: Xah Fly Keys Customization
xah-fly-keys is designed for any keyboard. I made sure it works well for • normal PC keyboards, • Apple Keyboards ⌨, • Laptop Keyboards, and works well in both text terminal or graphical user interface.
If you have a batman keyboard, much merrier.
Here's suggested optimal configuration.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does it compare to ergoemacs-mode?
ergoemacs-mode remaps the most frequently used emacs commands to use Alt+key, with key choice based on frequency of command call.
ergoemacs-mode is part of FSF GNU Emacs, in ELPA repository. (but you should probably download the version from MELPA, because it's usually more up-to-date.)
If you don't like modal ways, I recommend ergoemacs-mode.
https://ergoemacs.github.io/ (ergoemacs-mode is lead by Matthew Fidler.)
How does it compare with evil-mode?
evil-mode lets you use vim keys in emacs. It has large number of users, and with the advantage that you'll be able to use both emacs and vim.
How long does it take to learn xah-fly-keys?
It'll take the same time when learning vi for the first time.
If you practice 2 hours per day, probably about a month to be fluent.
Does xah-fly-keys work in terminal?
- very active: xahlee discord
- not very active: https://www.reddit.com/r/xahflykeys/ , created the subreddit on 2018-10-07. Post your questions, answers, experiences, wishlist, comparisions, criticisms, or your blogs about it there.
Emacs: Xah Fly Keys History
See also: on vi Keybinding vs Emacs Keybinding
Xah Fly Keys Testimonial