The Question:

Where can I find a resource to help me implement a powerful, holistic, cross-application approach to keyboard shortcuts on MacOS that maximizes productivity and minimizes movement that would hurt my wrists?

The Explanation:

Recently, I've started having wrist pain related to my keyboard/trackpad use. While I am now taking many proactive steps to address that (ergonomic keyboard, stretches, breaks, adjusting desk), I am also wanting to setup and master a comprehensive set of keyboard shortcuts (on MacOS) that will allow me to:

  1. maximize productivity with minimal keystrokes,
  2. minimize awkward stretches (ex: moving my left hand from from ASDF to cmd+ctrl+shift+g)
  3. navigate using the keyboard and avoid the trackpad/mouse whenever possible
  4. have an comprehensive and organized approach to shortcuts (ie when I want to define a shortcut in Atom for beautifying the editor there's some logic to why it's ctrl+option+b versus option+shift+b versus command+control+option+shift+b...) rather than a piecemeal, disorganized and application-specific approach.
  5. unlearn bad habits (ex: I noticed I move my entire right hand to hit shift+/ to make a ?) by defining the good habits.

I have got to believe that someone has already thought this all through and that I don't need to map out existing keyboard shortcuts for different programs, decide on a universal scheme for mapping/remapping that minimizes conflicts/confusion, write my own configuration scripts from the ground up, etc.

I am aware of:

  • Hammerspoon for automating OS X actions and assigning to keybindings
  • Alfred for quickly doing things via a "command line-like" interface.
  • Emacs and Ergomacs, which allow you to define a comprehensive set of keyboard shortcuts within the application.

What I'm looking for is essentially an implementation of emacs-like keyboard shortcuts for the whole OS, thoughtfully-organized and ergonomically-friendly

The ideal solution would combine:

  • A guide that orients the user to the approach, principles, etc
  • A software utility that handles universal mapping of the shortcuts across applications.
  • A set of pre-made config scripts that implement the beautiful, powerful, sensible approach defined in the guide.

Bonus points if this solution includes window management/resizing/positioning, and makes use of emacs-style prefix keymaps to create shortcut "domains" that simplify the shortcuts and group them into logical units.

1 Answer 1


The best solution I've found to date comes from Will Stern at LearnCode.Academy . He uses an Ergodox EZ keyboard, which allows for multiple layers (ie when you hold down a certain key it activates an entirely different keymap). It also has a "Hyper" key that acts as Ctrl+Cmd+Alt+Shift, which makes it easy to set up shortcuts that won't collide with other pre-existing or program-specific shortcuts. While I intend on ordering an Ergodox, it should be possible to configure a Hyper key on a standard keyboard with other keyboard utilities.

What Will does with his Ergodox configuration is he creates layer with a handful of keys that send Hyper+[somekey], and then binds that key combination to a particular function (like "move a line up") in all his main programs that he uses.

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