Mapping a Hyper key on MacOS with Karabiner Elements (the easy way)

January 30, 2024

I was just helping someone set up a hyper key and was surprised at how confusing most of the guides were. So here's my very simple version!

Wait a sec, what's a hyper key?

A hyper key is mapping a single key to <shift> + <control> + <option> + <command> so when you push that single key, you're really getting all of the modifier keys at once. It's useful for setting up global keyboard shortcuts because no sane application would require all four modifier keys in a shortcut.

Quick howto

  1. Install Karabiner Elements
  2. Open Karabiner Elements, goto "Complex Modifications"
  3. Click "Add predefined rule"
  4. Click "Import more rules from the internet"
  5. Search for "Caps Lock → Hyper Key (⌃⌥⇧⌘) (Caps Lock if alone)" and import it
  6. Enable it

That's it, you're done! Your <caps lock> key now functions as a hyper key.

So what would you use this for?

You can use this hyper key in any keyboard shortcut you can configure on your computer. I think it's most useful with Raycast, which I use for window management, quickly opening/switching most used apps, emoji search, and more. For example, <hyper> + e opens an emoji picker; <hyper> + c opens Chrome; <hyper> + v opens VSCode; <hyper> + 1 fires a confetti cannon, etc.

More information

This blog is an experiment: less about education and more about documenting the oddities I've experienced while building web apps.

My hope is that you're here because of a random search and you're experiencing something I've had to deal with.

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