Apple giveth, and Apple taketh away — the Escape key

In Apple's 10.12.1 macOS update, the file 'ApplePaySplashSA.tiff' seems to spilled the beans on Apple's new MacBook Pro's (and possibly other laptops') contextual function row key replacement. I'm guessing this change won't make it's way to Apple's Magic Keyboard for some time... but for users of Apple's laptops, having a 'software-defined' escape key might be a pill that's hard to swallow.

Macbook Pro Escape Key missing OLED contextual keys

But fret not! Apple also included a nice little addition to it's Keyboard configuration options in 10.12.1—you can now remap the Escape key to any of the other modifier keys on your keyboard (see screenshot below). So you can join the rest of us crazy vim users and make the worthless Caps Lock key actually be useful.

Remap the Escape key to Caps Lock on macOS Sierra 10.12.1

Unless you like SHOUTING ALL DAY, there's no reason to even have a caps lock key. Join the hipsters and switch it to Escape! Besides allowing you to have a hardware Escape key on Apple's latest laptops, it's a larger and easier to use button than that tiny half-chicklet at the top left of ye olde keyboards.


Everyone's already rebound caps lock to be control, for emacs purposes

Oh you're one of those emacs users :D

For more context for Vim users as well, there's a detailed article about strategies for exiting Vim using different keys, combos, etc. here: Avoid the escape key.

I'm not an emacs user but I do have my ctrl remapped to caps lock. I just don't want to be an "repetitive strain injury user".

... or tmux

It's easy enough with Karabiner to remap caps-lock to Control and have it act as Escape when it is tapped for a short enough time. This functionality can be done on Linux with xcape. This is the way I roll, and it works w/ Emacs, Vim, Spacemacs, etc without any holy wars continuing unnecessarily.

Yeah, that WOULD work if Karabiner worked on Sierra, which it doesn't. Karabiner-Elements, at present, can only do simple remaps. None of the fancy stuff like taps meaning one thing and chording meaning another.

Yea this is criminal but there is a next gen version in the works. Until then I'm on the prior OS.

There is a PR pending for the feature.

When I installed from the PR, it was missing some of the newer updates like the interface. But as I only really used it for caps lock remapping to CTRL/ESC I just used the settings he used and it worked!

Nonsense, a bunch of us remap the caps lock key to Hyper (Command+Control+Option+Shift) to make room for more macro hot keys. Which I guess might be all the more important if the function keys are unreliable. Sticking with my non-Apple keyboard and my desktop Mac, they can keep their MacBook whatever.

A lot of people tech have a distorted view of how the rest of their colleagues actually operate.

Just for perspective, StackOverflow 's dev survey puts Emacs usage at well under 4% of all developers. I'm guessing the real figure is about 1/4 of that. Developers tend to feel a moral imperative to use certain tools, like Git or CLI over GUI tools.

It's true that a lot of the most capable developers tend to use CLI utilities, are comfortable in languages that don't use garbage collection, and aren't statically typed... but they're freaks.

A developer in 2016 is someone who primarily uses Javascript with some big framework like React, with a project they host on GitHub, and access with a GUI-based version control app. These people don't use Emacs or Vim, or even Nano. They use Sublime (or Atom, if they don't know any better).

I've forgotten my point now :) Oh yeah, that's it. I don't think a lot of people remap their Capslock key to use Emacs.

How do I re-train my brain? Shock cell on top right corner? *tap* *BZZZZ* "Ow!"

My Caps Lock is already remapped to f19, which I use to launch Alfred. I'm gonna miss the little guy... (esc)

Not sure what version you're talking about but that is not an option to maps caps lock to Esc. Currently need karabiner elements

@togakangaroo - This option was just added in 10.12.1; see this post for more details.

The whole deal of the OLED bar is that it display items relevant to the current context. The screen shot is showing the ApplePay functionality in Sierra. So the OLED bar shows a Cancel button in order to cancel the ApplePay transaction. Presumably under other circumstances there would still be a virtual ESC key on the left side of the bar. I could be wrong though.

This is horrible news! Vim is the application I use most. Mapping another key to be the escape key would be a painful transition. Should we need to petition Apple to change their plans? Maybe they could offer an alternative, developer keyboard.

As society becomes more and more adept at computers, Apple takes the brave stance at removing decades old features and breaking time-testing paradigms because, you know, Apple. Think Different.

I *love* that Escape key icon. Can't remember ever seeing one before.

Shouldn't be such an issue for us Brits, at least. The key below Escape at the moment on a UK layout is the pointless bloody §/± one, and that's probably the first time I've ever pressed it—I have at least deliberately used caps lock every now and again...

You don't need to be a VIM user to profit from remapping caps-lock to ctrl.
Most text input fields and editors supprt basic VIM shortcuts in macOS. F. e.:
ctrl-e: end of line
ctrl-a: beginning of line
ctrl-n: next line
crrl-p: previous line

These alone are worth the switch.
Try it for a week. Your hands can rest comfortably away from those far away arrow keys.

Then try ctrl-t and be amazed.

I think those are emacs commands and not VIM commands. In Vim, in command mode (ESC) one would:
$: move to end of line (or 'A', move to end of line and change to insert mode)
0: move to beginning of line (or 'I', move to beginning of line and change to insert mode)
j: move to next line
k: move to previous line

and if you want to benefit from this in, then put a .inputrc in your ~/ directory with these contents, and then use the power of VIM to edit your command history: 'set editing-mode vi'

It seems to me that everyone is forgetting about the fn (function) key in the lower left hand corner. I can't see the lower half of the key in any of the images but you can clearly see that there are still 4 keys to the left of the space bar just like today's MacBook Pro keyboards. Since the whole purpose of the fn key is to change the shortcut keys to f keys, or vice versa depending on how you have it set, it's role is likely to be similar on the new keyboard. Maybe pressing the fn key will change the bar to its traditional keys including the ESC key. There are lots of possible scenarios but that key has related to the top row of keys in the past so it's like to in the future as well.

Did not know about the ability to remap Caps - used to have to use Seil for that.

If the United States buy the UK English Keyboard layout.
Now you have any extra key on the keyboard you can bind to ESC.

Just to add I would bind the old backtick to ESC and use the new position of backtick on the keyboard.