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Using basic Emacs keybindings in Gnome-Terminal


Summary: Use basic Emacs keyboard shortcuts (ie navigation) in Gnome-Terminal while using the Bash shell. This post is only interesting for people familiar with Emacs.

This is so simple that I almost afraid to post it…

…One of those things that has been bothering you for years(!), but was never urgent enough to invest time figuring out how to fix…


You’re used to Emacs shortcuts. Bash (and many other shells) support Emacs keybindings out of the box. But your default terminal comes with a stupid menu bar. So you press M-d (Emacs’ “kill-word”; for non-Emacs users: this corresponds to the key sequence Alt-d) and end up calling the “File” menu entry of the Gnome-Terminal (File is called “Datei” in German, which is my LOCAL). If you your LOCAL settings are English, you will have the same problem with the Emacs shortcut M-f (in Emacs this is “word-forward”): The Gnome-Terminal will grap the key sequence and open the “File” menu.


  1. Open your Gnome-Terminal
  2. Edit -> Keyboard shortcuts -> DISABLE ALL MENU ACCESS KEYS (If you have German settings the menu entry is called: “Bearbeiten -> Tastenkombinationen -> Alle Menükürzel aktivieren”. Disable the checkbox..)

That’s it.

  1. 2010/01/15 at 23:49

    Thanks for that tip! Alternatively you can disable these menus alltogether, if you don’t use them: simply uncheck “Ansicht”->”Menüleiste anzeigen”.

  2. draptik
    2010/01/16 at 00:12

    Arrgh! Thanks for the pointer. Your solution is better. I’ll edit my original entry….

  3. Jordi
    2010/04/30 at 23:56

    It’s been bothering me for years! Thank you!!

  4. 2010/08/09 at 08:43

    Don’t be afraid to post it. It helps me a lot! Thanks!

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