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Remapping arrows on mac

This note is based on this post by Nikita Prokopov, so you may want to read it first.

In a nutshell: when you are in the “print mode” (typing or programming), every time you need to reach arrows or backspace you have to remove your hand from the original position and then return it back. It’s almost imperceptible, but breaking the focus and reduces the speed of work.

As a solution, Nikita made a configurator for the Karabinierer elements — open-source application, which allows you to remap keys on the keyboard to use Capslock as a modifier. In his edition, arrows are reassigned to Caps Lock + IJKL, and the backspace to Caps Lock + H. He also suggested Locking the original keys to get used to using new ones.

Nikita’s version

I already tried to do this with less low-level remappers, and I was happy to set up Nikita’s configuration. However, it quickly became clear that something is missing.

Firstly, there is one more key, which is quite far to reach, but which is just as important when you write — enter. So, my optimal layout would be this:

I assigned Caps Lock + O, to enter, and re-assigned the backspace to Caps Lock + U. (It would be clear why a bit later)

Now, in “print mode” everything is fine: you can write, erase, move to the next line. Particularly nice that all other cursor modifiers continue to work — you can select text with a Shift and navigate by words with the alt.


Often you have to work in «Design mode» when one hand is located on the mouse, and the other — on shortcuts. In this case, the problem is even worse, because now if you need to use the arrows, you either have to drop the mouse and grab the keys, and then move back, or remove the left hand from the shortcuts and try to press the arrows with my left hand. Same with backspace and enter. The situation is even worse than in print mode, and our new shortcuts do not help at all.

It would be ideal to be able to press these buttons with your left hand, without removing your hands from ​the shortcuts area. Fortunately, now we already have a convenient modifier, so we can duplicate similar block of keys in “shortcut area”, so now arrows would be also on Caps Lock + WASD, Bacspace on Caps Lock + Q and enter on Caps Lock +E, like this:

Now you can easily operate with the keys of both the left and right hand. The whole set in the collection looks like this.

Karabinier elements allows you to configure complex modifications with setup json files, which you need to put at:


Alternatively, after installing the Carabinieri Elements you can simply click on the link below, that will download my setup file to the correct directory, so you will only have to enable or disable the required key groups as desired:

You can turn on options separately, or make changes to the file in order to extend or change your setup. File on GitHub page

Give it a try!

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