Science and technology

Use secret keyboard keys on Linux

A typical pc keyboard has solely about 100 keys on it.

Most keys double up on characters, additionally referred to as glyphs, due to the Shift key. Glyphs are regularly used to sort letters with accents and umlauts, to provide characters utilized in mathematic or financial expressions, or simply so as to add enjoyable emojis. In some areas there are even three glyphs accessible on choose keys.

Regardless of your area, nevertheless, some glyphs do not make it onto your keyboard. Fortunately, Linux gives entry to those via a compose key.

There’s no compose key in your keyboard, not less than not by default, however you’ll be able to designate a key you are not in any other case utilizing as your compose key. I take advantage of the Alt key to the fitting of the spacebar on my desktop keyboard and the Menu key on my laptop computer.

[ Download the cheat sheet: Linux compose key ]

Setting a Compose key in GNOME

(Seth Kenlon, CC BY-SA 4.0)

On the GNOME desktop, set up the Tweaks software out of your software program repository. You also can set up it from a terminal (use apt for Debian-based distributions, dnf for Fedora and comparable):

$ sudo dnf set up gnome-tweaks

After you launch Tweaks:

  1. Click on the Keyboard & Mouse class within the left column.
  2. Locate the Compose key setting and select a key to designate.
  3. Close Tweaks.

Setting a Compose key in KDE Plasma Desktop

(Seth Kenlon, CC BY-SA 4.0)

On the KDE Plasma Desktop, open System Settings and navigate to the Input Devices management panel. Then:

  1. In the Input Devices panel, click on the Advanced tab.
  2. Find the Compose key checklist merchandise and select a key to designate.
  3. Click the Apply button within the backside proper nook of the window after which shut System Settings.

Using compose sequences

To enter a hidden character, press the compose key after which launch it. You’re now in compose mode. While in compose mode, you’ll be able to press and launch one key after which one other to mix characters.

For occasion:

  1. Press the compose key and launch it. You are actually in compose mode.
  2. Press an apostrophe () after which launch it.
  3. Press the letter E after which launch it. This is a sound mixture, so that you are actually out of compose mode.

You’ve simply typed the letter É!

Some compose sequences are a mix of simply two keys, whereas others require three keys, and not less than one particular glyph makes use of a collection of 4 key presses.

The secret glyphs

It’s a small world, so there is a good likelihood you’ve got received associates whose names use glyphs that are not native to your keyboard. You can now cease skipping over diacritics and sort names utilizing the suitable modifiers.

Here’s a pattern checklist of compose sequences for frequent diacritics:

  • + <letter> = á é í ó ú ć ń ý j́́ ẃ ź
  • ` + <letter> = à è ì ò ù ǹ ỳ ẁ
  • ~ + <letter> = ã ẽ ĩ õ ũ ñ ỹ
  • ^ + <letter> = â ê î ô û ĉ ŷ ĵ ŵ ẑ
  • u + <letter> = ă ĕ ĭ ŏ ŭ
  • c + c = č
  • + <letter> = ā ē ī ō ū đ
  • , + <letter> = ą ę į ǫ ų ç ḑ ţ

That’s not a whole checklist, however it covers quite a lot of the frequent ones.


International banking will get somewhat simpler due to the compose key, too:

  • + Y = ¥
  • + L = £
  • = + E = €
  • = + L = ₤
  • = + N = ₦
  • = + R = ₹
  • = + W = ₩
  • / + m = ₥
  • R + s = ₨
  • C + r = ₢
  • F + r = ₣

Once once more, that is not a whole checklist, however it’s a superb begin.

Fun glyphs

Diacritics and forex are helpful, however the compose key can be utilized only for enjoyable, too.

  • < + 3 = ♥
  • < + > = ⋄
  • # + q = ♩
  • : + ) = ☺
  • : + ( = ☹
  • p + o + o = 💩

Live lengthy and prosper

My favourite “secret” glyph in Linux is the standard Vulcan salutation, “Live long and prosper.”

Finding all of the glyphs

There are many extra glyphs accessible via the compose key, and you may have enjoyable discovering new ones by urgent random compose sequences. A extra methodical technique for locating glyphs is to discuss with the Compose file, positioned in /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8 (alter the precise path relying on the locale your keyboard makes use of).

That file can admittedly be overwhelming, because it consists of over 6,000 strains of compose sequences, a lot of that are complicated combos of ASCII and Unicode. For a fast and simple reference of frequent and foundational sequences, you’ll be able to download our compose key cheat sheet. It gives sequences overlaying arithmetic, typography, music, arrows, diacritics, forex, and extra.

Now that you simply’re in on the key, your vary of expression simply received an entire lot greater.

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