[OS X Emacs] Aquamacs Meta key

David Reitter david.reitter at gmail.com
Mon Mar 13 23:16:08 EDT 2017

The others have already pointed out that it’s not randomly switching modes, and it’s been pointed out how you can disable the C-; keybinding.

But you point out something important, namely that Aquamacs is mode-based w.r.t. a pretty fundamental key assignment.  Mode-based interfaces are known to be confusing, and one would want to avoid those. 

On the Mac, the standard function of the option key is to produce characters that aren’t visible on keyboard, and that are often not part of the English language.  Obviously, some users will use these characters more often, while others won’t use them at all.  Aquamacs needs to work for all users.

At the time when this mechanism was designed, other modifier keys weren’t available.  I would have liked to use Caps Lock for Meta (the least useful key on the keyboard!), or Fn on laptop keyboards.  But for technical reasons, that wasn’t consistently possible. For example, desktop keyboard do not have the Fn key.

Meta, on the other hand, is so important that we needed to have a Meta modifier.  Esc out of the way, and it isn’t designed to be pressed simultaneously.

So, that’s why there are two modes.  If you have good ideas on how to change that (while making software that works for people with all sorts of keyboard layouts, including the ones that require the Option key to produce \ { } @ and so on), I’d like to know.  

One possibility might be to show a warning the first time C-; is used, and start out with Option = Meta.  But with that, we would confuse those with non-QWERTY keyboards, because they expect the Option key to work normally.  So, is there a panacea?

- David

http://aquamacs.org -- Aquamacs: Emacs on Mac OS X
http://aquamacs.org/donate -- Could we help you? Return the favor and support the Aquamacs Project!

> On Mar 11, 2017, at 10:51 AM, 7stud <7stud at excite.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> About every half hour when I'm using Aquamacs, I (mis)type a key sequence, and my Meta key, which is the default Option key, changes to "Option for composed characters", which can be seen in in the Auqamacs menu bar under:
> Options > Option, Command, Meta keys > Option for composed characters
> Thereafter, every time I hit a Meta key sequence, e.g. M-p, a mathematical symbol, e.g. pi, gets entered into the buffer--rather than the emacs key sequence doing the expected operation.  This is very irritating.  Is there a way to permanently set the Meta key to my Option key? I don't want anything I type ever to be able to change which key is the Meta key. 
> And, I would encourage the Aquamacs implementers to remove this "feature" forthwith.   Do you have any idea how frustrating it is when someone is trying to learn emacs, and the Meta key randomly changes, causing emacs key sequences not to work as described?? Do you think that beginners are going to be able to figure out why certain key sequences don't work, i.e. that their Meta key suddenly stopped being the Meta key? 
> Thanks.
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