In terminal emulation applications, pressing CTRL + Left / Right arrows jumps from one word to the previous or next one. Is it possible to have the same functionality in a Linux console, whether it is in text or in framebuffer modes?

In my configuration, the CTRL + arrow keys are transformed into escaped character sequences and not interpreted.

5 Answers 5


Emacs-style shortcuts Alt + f, Alt + b work by default with all readline-powered command line programs, like shells.


This is possible if and only if the terminal sends different escape sequences for Ctrl+Left vs Left. This is not the case by default on the Linux console (at least on my machine). You can make it so by modifying the keymap. The exact file to modify may depend on your distribution; on Debian lenny, the file to modify is /etc/console/boottime.kmap.gz. You need lines like

control keycode 105 = F100
string F100 = "\033O5D"
control keycode 106 = F101
string F101 = "\033O5C"

You might as well choose the same escape sequences as your X terminal emulator. To find out what the control sequence is, type Ctrl+V Ctrl+Left in a shell; this inserts (on my machine) ^[O5D where ^[ is an escape character. In the keymap file, \033 represents an escape character.

Configuring the application in the terminal to decode the escape sequence is a separate problem, .

  • you are only explaining how you got the "\033O5D" code, but completely omitting where you got the keycode 105 and F100 codes from. Besides, I get ^[[1;5B and ^[[1;5A for ctrl+Down and Ctrl+Up. How should I handle the 1; part? Apr 20, 2016 at 10:08
  • 1
    @MartinVegter Check the existing file for keycodes, or use the showkey program. The 1; part isn't different from the rest: "\033[1;5B" and so on. Apr 20, 2016 at 10:29
  • OK the keycode 105 can be found using showkey. But where did you get the F100 ? Apr 20, 2016 at 10:44
  • @MartinVegter Pick one that isn't already in use. A different one per keychord (I just fixed a typo in my answer). Apr 20, 2016 at 12:01

You can set vim as your command line editor and then hit ESC and jump around vim style (forward, back, end, $, 0, etc)


This is not with control + arrows, but I can type Esc B to go back a word and Esc F to go forward a word in my Mac Terminal.


I had this issue on Debian with an empty ~/.inputrc file. Fixed the problem by removing this file.

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