I'm a Mac user and I always wonder why there isn't a linux distro that's picked up using the same system of keyboard shortcuts, in particular using the command/super key for typical global shortcuts like +X for "cut", +C for "copy" and +V for "paste".

I appreciate the ability to copy and paste to and from the terminal with the same shortcuts as elsewhere, and I'm puzzled that no linux distros have picked up on this, as typically linux is more terminal focused than macOS. I would have thought that it would make sense to implement this in a linux distro, but it seems like every linux distro ever has just copied their keyboard shortcuts from the windows world where Ctrl is used for standard keyboard shortcuts, necessitating that Shift is also added when you're using the terminal app. That means when you're in the terminal, you have to use a different keyboard shortcut for cut, copy, paste, new window/tab, and quit, etc.

It's probably a minor quibble, but it just seems strange that no one in linux has had this frustration and not thought of the Mac way of doing this and just implemented the standard of using the command/super key for standard keyboard shortcuts in place of Ctrl.

I'm fairly certain that this is not copyrighted by Apple, such a basic concept is almost certainly uncopyrightable.

  • Ahh gotta love the macOS keyboard shortcuts of ctrl+K to cut and ctrl+Y to paste, right?
    – Fox
    Feb 14 '20 at 6:03

Out of the box many *nix terminals allow copying and pasting text by simply selecting the text you want to copy, and inserting it by pressing the middle mouse button. No additional button presses needed! If that is not a UX improvement, I don't know what is.

Generally speaking, you can swap the Control and Command buttons yourself by using built-in tools such as xmodmap. That will have the effect of having most Apple-style shortcuts feel the same as on Mac.

That said, from my experience as an Apple keyboard user, I found it more convenient to make the Command key function as an Alt and make the Caps Lock and Return keys function as Ctrl when held. You can achieve this by changing the defaults in Apple's keyboard driver hid-apple in conjuction with the xmodmap and xcape utilities.


Truth is it is very difficult to implement correctly as a simple key swap is not sufficient, but it is close. If you are mindful of GUI apps vs terminal app differences and potential conflicts within a DE & how that can impact the hotkeys of some hotkey driven apps then you can actually resolve it pretty well with apps like xkeysnail in particular.

Of course there is autokey, xmodmap, xkbcomp, xbindkeys and others that can assist, but I have not found any of them to be as easy to work with if you want to resolve potential conflicts with relative ease.

I am the author of Kinto and I believe I have worked out the most problematic challenges to getting mac like keybinds working under Linux or Windows.

After install if you need to modify the config file for Kinto then look at this location.

vi ~/.config/kinto/kinto.py
sudo systemctl restart xkeysnail
# typically xkeysnail does not install as a service - specific to Kinto only


# Right click the tray icon and re-apply your keyboard type for changes to take affect



Also if your goal is to have a mac like experience on Linux then I would recommend using Ubuntu Budgie and enabling the built in Global App Menu extension. I have tested this distro, among others with Kinto to ensure that it works as expected. The Solus maintainers of Budgie have also recently accepted a patch upstream so that Kinto will no longer need to patch the DE for proper Cmd-Tab Window/app switching support.


This was actually the case in Solaris. The modern equivalent of the Meta key on a modern USB keyboard is the USB HID GUI scancode (Windows key).

For example it's very close to what you mentioned:

  • Meta - C is Copy
  • Meta - X is Cut
  • Meta - V is Paste

Reference: https://docs.oracle.com/cd/E19683-01/806-7612/startup-tbl-5/index.html

Keyboard Left GUI: Windowing environment key, examples are Microsoft Left Win key, Mac Left Apple Key, Sun Left Meta key.

Scancodes: https://www.usb.org/sites/default/files/documents/hut1_12v2.pdf see page 59 footnotes for Left/Right GUI

The options to make use of these keys is still available in GNOME: https://superuser.com/a/1559585

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