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

macbook-pro-escape-key

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.

mac-preferences

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

mac-keyboard-preferences-modifier

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

mac-keyboard-preferences-map-modifiers

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

mac-keyboard-preferences-escape-caps-lock

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.

Justin Pot is the News Editor for How-To Geek. He lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, if you want. You don't have to.