I want to hold the 'delete' key and delete characters more quickly than OSX Mavericks does by default. Something like Ubuntu, which delete really quickly. Any suggestions?!

3 Answers 3


Under System Preferences, click Keyboard, and adjust the "Key Repeat" speed (see below). Tested in Word and it does affect how quickly the delete key deletes characters when held down.

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Alternatively, in the terminal you can enter

defaults write NSGlobalDomain KeyRepeat -int 0
which is the fastest setting. The fastest exposed by System Preferences is 2 (log out and back in to see changes). See here: Mac OSX Hints


defaults write NSGlobalDomain InitialKeyRepeat -int 15
can be used to change the delay before the repeat starts (default is 15).

For a graphical solution, see keyremap4macbook, detailed here.


You can also hold the Option key while pressing delete. This deletes whole words instead of characters. Similar functionality to holding Control while pressing backspace in windows.

  • 3
    For some reason, this doesn't work inside the terminal on my mac. Option+arrow-keys moves the cursor a word a time, but option+delete doesn't delete a word a time. Oddly, it does inside this editor window.
    – r12
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 16:57
  • Great for other apps but doesn't work in Terminal. Commented Apr 4, 2019 at 22:39

esc+delete should work on Mac terminal

  • The answer is just too short. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 9:01
  • But correct! Though only works for one word at a time. You have to repeat pressing esc. Hopefully my answer is not too short.
    – Roman
    Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 5:41

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