The i3 FAQ has migrated to All content here is read-only.
Ask Your Question

Why does the default config use jkl; instead of hjkl?

asked 2012-10-31 12:04:41 +0000

Michael gravatar image

Many applications mimic the VI in that they use hjkl for movement, but i3 uses jkl; (shifted by one to the right). What’s the reason?

edit retag flag offensive close merge delete

1 answer

Sort by » oldest newest most voted

answered 2012-10-31 12:07:04 +0000

Michael gravatar image

i3 uses jkl; because these keys make up the "home row" underneath your right hand when touch typing. That is, your fingers should be in that position anyway, so you don’t need to move them when switching windows.

Note that hjkl was most likely chosen just for historic reasons, not for ergonomic reasons:

Therefore, i3’s choice is more ergonomic, IMO.

Also, if you really want to change them, it is really simple, and gives you a good reason to dive into i3’s configuration file :-).

edit flag offensive delete link more


As an aside, I personally don’t use hjkl anywhere, but instead use the arrow keys on level 4 of (an alternative keyboard layout optimized for ergonomics).

Michael gravatar imageMichael ( 2012-10-31 12:07:39 +0000 )edit

i3's jkl; is ergonomic for qwerty keyboard users, but many people use other layouts like qwertz (Germany) or azerty (France). In all those layouts "hjkl" works (those keys are in the same locations as on US-qwerty. But it is indeed easy to change.

rsidd gravatar imagersidd ( 2012-12-12 07:29:46 +0000 )edit

@rsidd: i3-config-wizard (launched on first start of i3) generates a config file which uses the key positions of jkl;, no matter how these keys are labeled, so your point is moot :)

Michael gravatar imageMichael ( 2012-12-12 08:01:43 +0000 )edit

Question Tools

1 follower


Asked: 2012-10-31 12:04:41 +0000

Seen: 3,590 times

Last updated: Dec 12 '12