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Configuring XTerm to Default to Meta Sends Escape

Summary

For emacs and command-line work, it is important for the escape key to work properly. In many installations of xterm, unfortunately, the Alt/Meta key sends some strange character instead of escape. To fix, you need to add the xterm*metaSendsEscape: true line into your ~/.Xdefaults file. Reloading the X Defaults with xrdb -l ~/.Xdefaults will cause the change to be visible the next time you launch xterm.

Details

Add this line anywhere in your personal .Xdefaults file (~/.Xdefaults):
xterm*metaSendsEscape: true
Then reload the config with xrdb. Without this step the changes in .Xdefaults won't take effect until the next X restart:
xrdb -l ~/.Xdefaults
Launch a new xterm and enjoy the new, working Alt/Meta key!
Last modified on 16 Aug 2010 by AO

Copyright © 2016 Andrew Oliver