Extra keyboard keys in Xorg

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Mapping keysyms to actions

Merge-arrows-2.pngThis article or section is a candidate for merging with Keyboard Shortcuts#X11_2.Merge-arrows-2.png

Notes: same topic (Discuss in Talk:Extra keyboard keys in Xorg#)

When we are in a graphical environment we may want to execute a command when certain key combination is pressed. There are multiple ways to do that:

  • The most portable way using low level tools, such as acpid. Not all keys are supported, but configuration in uniform way is possible for keyboard keys, power adapter connection and even headphone jack (un)plugging events. It is also difficult to run programs inside X session correctly.
  • The universal way using Xorg utilities (e.g. xbindkeys) and eventually your desktop environment or window manager tools.
  • The quicker way using a third-party program to do everything in GUI, such as the Gnome Control Center or Keytouch.

Third-party tools


A simple X hotkey daemon with a powerful and compact configuration syntax. See sxhkd for details.


KeyTouch is a program which allows you to easily configure the extra function keys of your keyboard. This means that you can define, for every individual function key, what to do if it is pressed.

See the main article: keytouch.


From actkbd home page:

actkbdAUR (available in AUR) is a simple daemon that binds actions to keyboard events. It recognises key combinations and can handle press, repeat and release events. Currently it only supports the linux-2.6 evdev interface. It uses a plain-text configuration file which contains all the bindings.

A sample configuration and guide is available here.


xbindkeys allows advanced mapping of keysyms to actions independently of the Desktop Environment.

Tip: If you find xbindkeys difficult to use, try the graphical manager xbindkeys_configAUR[broken link: archived in aur-mirror] from the AUR.