Creating and removing shortcuts boils down to the following commands,

map [switches] <scope> <mode> <key> <keys>
unmap <scope> <mode> <key> [<expected>]

The map command makes key behave as if the keys sequence was

mode dictates in what context the mapping will be available:

insert mode

normal mode

prompts, such as when entering a command through :, or a regex
through /

mode entered when a menu is displayed with the menu command

mode entered when the user prefix is hit (default: ,)

mode entered when the goto key is hit (default: g)

mode entered when the view key is hit (default: v)

mode entered when an object selection is triggered (e.g. <a-i>)

The context of execution of the above modes is always the current one at
the time of execution of the mapping, except for user mode (always
executed in a normal context). Refer to :doc modes for
more details.

An optional -docstring switch followed by a string can be used to
describe what the mapping does. This docstring will be used in autoinfo

The unmap command removes a mapping of key in the given
scope and mode. If expected is specified, the mapping is
removed only if it is set to the same sequence of keys passed using the
expected argument.

For more information about the values of the scope parameter, refer
to :doc scopes.

Mapping commands

It’s common to use a normal-mode or user-mode mapping to trigger a
command, like this:

map global user n ': make-next-error<ret>'

Note the space between the : and the command. This prevents Kakoune
from adding this command to the prompt history, so the user won’t have
to scroll past it to review commands they actually typed.

If you make a normal-mode mapping, you can prefix it with a count or a
register name like any other normal-mode key. You can forward this
information to the command you invoke with the %val{count} and
%val{register} expansions (See
:doc expansions). For example:

map global normal = ': echo Got count %val{count} and reg %val{register}<ret>'

Mappable keys

See :doc keys to discover the list of default bindings.

For key and keys in the map command, the following key names
can be used:

x, <x>
Most keys, especially alphabetic keys, represent themselves. Keys can
also be wrapped in angle-brackets for consistency with the
non-alphabetic keys below.

Holding down Control while pressing the x key.

Holding down Alt while pressing the x key.

<s-x>, X, <X>, <s-X>
Holding down Shift while pressing the x key. <s-x>,
<s-X> and <X> are treated as the same key. The
s- modifier only works with ASCII letters and cannot be used with
other printable keys (non-ASCII letters, digits, punctuation) because
their shift behaviour depends on your keyboard layout. The s-
modifier can be used with special keys like <up> and

Holding down Control and Alt while pressing the x key.

<lt>, <gt>
The < and > characters.

<plus>, <minus>
The + and - characters.

The Return or Enter key.

The space bar.

The Tab key.

The Backspace (delete to the left) key.

The Delete (to the right) key.

The Escape key.

<up>, <down>, <left>, <right>; <pageup>, <pagedown>, <home>, <end>
The usual cursor-movement keys.

<f1>, <f2>, …<f12>
Function keys.


Although Kakoune allows many key combinations to be mapped, not every
possible combination can be triggered. For example, due to limitations
in the way terminals handle control characters, mappings like
<c-s-a> are unlikely to work in Kakoune’s terminal UI.