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Another contributed Readline keyboard shortcut

Last Wednesday, I was given a very nice response with a great tip to my table of Readline keyboard shortcuts by Luca City. Yesterday, Lance Levine gave me another extremely nice response and another great tip:

Just wanted to say appreciate the nice readline cheatsheet. There were a couple I never knew (the ctrl-alt-asterisk is gonna be a real time saver) and I never knew about ctrl-G or ctrl-J to end incremental searches either.

One that might be worth knowing for a lot of people if you ever make updates, would be the ctrl-x-x cmd. which takes you to the beginning of the line (and then back again if you hit it again). I enjoy working in screen, and the default ctrl-a escapes you from readline when you’re in a screen session so I never use it lest get confused.

Best Regards,
Lance Levine

Well, Lance, I’m an avid GNU screen user myself, so your tip is very useful to me! I’ve added it to the table to ease the suffering of our fellow GNU screen users. 🙂

Indeed I did, but I found it difficult to come up with a concise and clear description of the shortcut. So difficult, in fact, that I didn’t succeed at it:

Ctrl+x+x readline keyboard shortcut with ugly description

So, what does the Readline user manual have to say that may help me with a description?

exchange-point-and-mark (C-x C-x)
Swap the point with the mark. The current cursor position is set to the saved position, and the old cursor position is saved as the mark.

While typing, the mark normally is at the beginning of the line. Pressing Ctrl-x-x will move the cursor to the mark and set the mark to the old cursor position. If you now move the cursor and press Ctrl-x-x again, the mark won’t be at the beginning of the line but at place where you moved the cursor to. This means that the Ctrl-x-x shortcut is more than just a way to move back and forth between the beginning and ending of a line.

Another goody worth mentioning is the Ctrl-@ shortcut which will simply set the mark at the current cursor position or at the position specified by a numeric argument.

Now, I just need to think of a way to integrate these two Readline command bindings into the table without the descriptions taking up as many lines as this blog post. 😕 Any bright ideas, anyone?

1 Comment

  1. Royce

    How about above where you have Ctrl-x-x you introduce Ctrl-@

    Ctrl-@ — Set mark at cursor (defaults to beginning of the line)
    Ctrl-x-x — Move cursor to mark

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