My right hand is temporarily immobilized and I would like to do some minor work in Emacs, mostly in Org-mode, but also in AUCTeX. Are there ways to ease one-handed work in Emacs, such as some mode or particular work flow? For instance I noticed that for undoing it is easier to press C-x u than C-_ and that it is easier to mark text with methods involving C-Space than with combinations of S- and movement commands.

I have found https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2391805/how-can-i-remain-productive-with-one-hand-completely-immobilized but that is not exactly what I am asking for. I want to ease whatever little time spent one-handed in Emacs (not in any program) and this is also interesting for situations where there is no injury involved, such as when one hand is occupied. I do realize that I should avoid unnecessary strain.

I am using GNU Emacs 23.3.1 in Ubuntu 11.04.

  • I'm not hugely familiar with emacs - as i recall C stands for ctrl - is the _ in C-_ the key you get when you use shift and minus? – Journeyman Geek Mar 23 '12 at 12:47
  • @JourneymanGeek C-_ means Ctrl+_ (pressing and holding Ctrl and then pressing they key(s) to write "_"), see gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/html_node/emacs/… for details. – N.N. Mar 23 '12 at 12:51

Sticky keys can help. I use them even with two hands, because they put less strain on your hands when pressing complex key combos. The main advantage of sticky keys is that you don't have to press all the keys of complex shortcut at the same time. So when you press C-x C-c you can do it by pressing Ctrl, releasing it, then pressing X, etc.

  • Seems to be a reasonable feature for this kind of situation. Would you mind including a more elaborate explanation and instructions on how to enable it to make your answer even better? – N.N. Mar 23 '12 at 11:53
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    I don't really know what else to say. It can be enabled different ways depending on what OS you use. The link I gave describes the possible methods. I use Windows, so I simply switched it on on the accessibility panel. (You can also do it by pessing shift 5 times.) – Tom Mar 23 '12 at 12:39
  • I use Ubuntu 11.04. – N.N. Mar 23 '12 at 12:53
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I assume you'll want to use different keyboard shortcuts - you can bind key combinations to commands with xbindkeys , and its gui

As for simulating keystrokes with commands askubuntu suggests xvkbd would work, but xte sounds like a better bet.

with xte the syntax is rather simple (though there's some scriptability xte "keydown Control_L" "key u" "keyup Control_L" would press down on control (well the left side one), press down u, and release control after that. I'm having trouble working out how to get xte to simulate - (will update when i know).

I'm also having trouble getting xbindkeys-config to run xte commands properly, but once again, that'll be sorted out eventually. Apparently i need to escape commands in xbindkeys with " but that somehow interfers with the quotes needed by xte.

  • Would you mind including a fitting example of such use? – N.N. Mar 23 '12 at 12:30
  • just to note, i'm hacking through the answer the old fashioned, brute force way. I also have a metric ton of assignments to do. If someone wants to use this as a basis for a better answer, go ahead, but i'll be updating this over the next few days (especially after sunday!) as i work out what i'm doing. – Journeyman Geek Mar 23 '12 at 13:15

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