How to Get Your Mac’s Esc Key Back by Remapping Caps Lock


The touch bar on Apple’s new MacBook Pro makes sense. The top row of keys have served specific functions on Macs for over a decade; why not let those specific functions change depending on which application you’re using?

But there’s one key that old-school UNIX users—particularly Emacs fans—are going to miss: Escape. The touch bar completely replaces this key, which is going to make a lot of Terminal-based applications nearly impossible to use. And while the touch bar can add an Esc key when necessary, programmers and others might prefer a physical key while typing.

Good news: the latest Sierra update lets you re-maps Caps Lock, a key most people never use, to Esc. We’ve shown you how to disable the caps lock key on a Mac, and the process is similar.

First, head to System Preferences, then to Keyboard.


At the bottom-right, you’ll see a button called “Modifier Keys.” Click it.


From here you can replace what four keys do: Caps Lock, Control, Option, and Command.


Click the Caps Lock drop-down. As you can see, Escape is an option.


Select it and your Caps Lock key will serve as an improvised Esc key. This will take a little getting used to, but it’s better than not having an alternative.

There’s one other downside: if you want to YELL AT PEOPLE, you’ll have to hold down the Shift key. Our official recommendation: only yell at people when it’s worth the effort of holding down the Shift key.

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