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Option keys not usable as mappings on macOS

See original GitHub issue

On macOS the alt/option key is used as a second shift like key: one can enter special characters as ∂, ƒ, ¬, ø (option+d, option+f, option+l, option+o). Problematic are the keys option+\``, option+e, option+u, option+i, option+n which are dead keys to compose diacritics like è, é, ë, ê and ñ. These can’t be used to map Kakoune/Dance chords.

This solution only adds support to use option as meta in the terminal emulator of VSCode. Using something like this in the editor is currently not supported and should probably be fixed in core VSCode.

Issue Analytics

  • State:open
  • Created 4 years ago
  • Comments:10 (5 by maintainers)

github_iconTop GitHub Comments

71commented, Oct 3, 2022

Reviving this – I’m working on updated keybindings for Dance on Mac (and for alternative keyboard layouts). Given that the user will have a set-up step where they’ll choose their layout and OS, what do you think should be changed to make Dance friendlier to macOS? Ideally we wouldn’t need system-wide changes or Karabiner.

bfulopcommented, Feb 6, 2022

I wanted to share my workaround:

I’m using Karabiner to remap option to control-option and updated all the shortcuts in VScode.

In the end I went even further. I remapped spacebar to control-option when pressed together with another key and to space when pressed alone.

Here’s what the setup looks like in Karabiner Elements.

                        "description": "Change spacebar to control+alt in VScode for Dance actions",
                        "manipulators": [
                                "conditions": [
                                        "bundle_identifiers": [
                                        "type": "frontmost_application_if"
                                "from": {
                                    "key_code": "spacebar",
                                    "modifiers": {}
                                "parameters": {
                                    "basic.to_if_alone_timeout_milliseconds": 240,
                                    "basic.to_if_held_down_threshold_milliseconds": 5
                                "to_if_alone": [
                                        "key_code": "spacebar"
                                "to_if_held_down": [
                                        "key_code": "left_control",
                                        "modifiers": ["left_option"]

                                "type": "basic"

In my experience this is what the timeouts mean:

basic.to_if_alone_timeout_milliseconds → the maximum time you have to finish pressing and then releasing the spacebar to be registered.

basic.to_if_held_down_threshold_milliseconds → the minimum time the spacebar has to be pressed down to be considered as a modifier key. If you press the second key sooner than this timeout, it will not work.

Read more comments on GitHub >

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