Setting up Mac-like zsh keyboard shortcuts on a Mac

For some reasons, configuring keyboard shortcuts for the shell is truly bizarre in Mac OS and Linux. It involves figuring out arcane character sequences like \e\e\x17 and ^[[H.

I haven’t had time to look into the reasons for this weirdness (it’s most likely historical), but over the several attempts I made to set this up, I haven’t been able to discern a pattern in these character sequences.

I haven’t found a good source of documentation, and the blog posts list lots of different sequences which are all supposed to do the same thing, but mostly don’t work.

Anyway, I managed to setup a minimum set of shortcuts for myself to use on OS X with iTerm2 and zsh.

Add the following to ~/.zshrc:

bindkey -e
# Option-Right
bindkey '\e\e[C' forward-word
# Option-Left
bindkey '\e\e[D' backward-word

# Cmd-Left
bindkey "^[[H" beginning-of-line
# Cmd-Right
bindkey "^[[F" end-of-line

Then reload .zshrc (in the current terminal) with

. ~/.zshrc

Another thing that’s nice is being able to use Option-Delete to delete words backwards. However, I haven’t found the magical sequence for .zshrc that would do it. The only solution I found was going into global shortcut preferences in iTerm2, and setting up the following:

  • Keyboard shortcut: Option-Delete
  • Action: Send hex codes
  • Value: 17 (note: not 0x17 or x17, but just 17)

It would be nice to have a few more productive shortcuts like that, but I’ve already wasted an hour on this!