I’ve been less good at taking adequate typing breaks during the lockdown and I’ve become concerned about how much chording my left hand does on its own during typical Emacs usage, with caps lock rebound to control, as I’ve had it for years.

I thought that now was as good a time as any to do something drastic about this. Here are my rebindings:

  • the keys on either side of the spacebar are control
  • the keys just outside of those are alt/meta
  • caps lock is Super, Windows or Command depending on OS
  • move any window manager keybindings which now become one handed left hand chords such that they are not.

Optional extras:

  • left control is caps lock
  • right control is the compose key.

This has the following advantages:

  • you can easily achieve this rebinding on GNU/Linux, Windows and macOS
  • almost every keyboard has enough keys near the spacebar to make it work, and it’s fine to have just one super key since it is not involved in any one handed chords
  • does not involve relying on the difference between tapping and releasing and holding a modifier key, which I find fragile
  • there are control and alt/meta keys available to both hands, so there is much less call for one-handed chording
  • control and alt/meta are pressed by the thumb, the strongest finger, so when one-handed chording does come up (e.g. C-x C-o without having to switch between control keys) it’s the least harmful form
    • my plan is to use the control/meta key available to the opposite hand for the first key of each sequence, and allow some one handed chording to complete the sequence.
      • Update 23/Jul/2020: I’ve found that I’m typing some of these sequences by performing a one-handed chord in order to type the second key, as planned, and others by performing a one-handed chord in order to type the first key. There are actually only a handful of these sequences, so it seems okay to have sequence-specific habits.
    • there is some temptation to use a curled up little finger on the new alt/meta key, I’m finding, but I’m trying to stop myself from doing that.

The main disadvantage, aside from an adjustment period when I feel that someone has inserted a massive marshmellow between me and my computer, is that Ctrl-Alt combinations are a bit difficult; in Emacs, C-M-SPC is hard to do without. However I think I’ve found a decent way to do it (thumb on control, curled ring finger on alt, possibly little finger on shift for Emacs’ infamous C-M-S-v standard binding). (Update 23/Jul/2020: this has been working out fine.)