Tuesday, 16 May 2006

Full Emacs Keybindings in OSX

One fun thing about reading blogs - you learn little gems that you wouldn't encounter otherwise, sometimes even when you search for it. When I got my Mac in August last year, I was thrilled to find that it supported emacs style key bindings in most Cocoa applications. However, it wasn't complete support - while all the control key bindings worked (^f, ^b, ^p, ^n, etc), the ALT/option button bindings did not. So I missed useful keys like page up (Alt-v) or forward one word (Alt-f).

I did spend a couple of hours searching on this, particularly in the help documents and knowledge base contained in the Mac and on google. No luck. I eventually resigned myself to working without the Alt keys and chugged along mostly happy. That is, until today, when I read Erica Sadun's blog on the Mac DevCenter RSS feed.

Turns out that all I really needed was this Apple Developer article on Key Bindings in OSX, including Emacs examples. It was as simple as adding my own custom definitions in ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict.

The OSX key binding capability is actually quite impressive. You can even do multi-keystroke bindings, such as ^x^f (if you really miss Emacs that much).

Another day, another great functionality to rave about in OSX :)

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