Superpower the Caps Lock Key

The caps lock key is probably the most useless button on your keyboard, and arguably the Internet would be a better place without it. One way to make it more useful is to turn it into a “hyper key”, which essentially turns the single key into a combination of Ctrl+Alt+Cmd+Shift. This allows you to associate new key shortcuts that are unlikely to conflict with other apps.

I like to use the hyper key with the Alfred app launcher in order to quickly launch my most used applications (e.g. Hyper+C to open Chrome).

This is a tip I picked up from Wes Bos that I got running on Mac OS High Sierra from a blog post by Brett Terpstra.

Updated on December 2017: With the version 11, Karbiner Elements no longer needs a manual configuration, simply enable the caps lock modifier. The blog post was updated to reflect the changes.

Step 1: Disable the Caps Lock Key

Open the Keyboard pane in your System Preferences and click the Modifier Keys… button on the bottom right. Note that if you use a bluetooth keyboard, you need to do that for both keyboards.

Step 2: Get Karabiner Elements

Download and install the latest Karabiner Elements (at least version 0.91.3)

Step 3: Customize Karabiner’s settings

Run Karabiner-Elements, it will open the preferences pane. Under Complex Modifications, click the Add rule button on the bottom left.

Click the Enable button for the caps lock to command+control+option+shift override.

And you’re done, w00t!

Step 4: Start Using Your Hyper Key!

Karabiner will not detect and replace the caps lock key. You can use it to assign custom shortcuts in your keyboard preferences, or use it to assign hotkeys in your app launcher (Alfred, QuickSilver, etc.)

You can use hotkeys for both apps and websites. I added my most used apps as hotkeys my Alfred workflows, eg: Sketch (Hyper+S), Chrome (C), Gmail (M), Slack (L) and so on.

Bonus: Turn Websites Into Apps

In a previous post, I shared steps to open websites in application mode. If you want to avoid certain website to be lost in your Chrome tabs (e.g. Google Calendar, Gmail, InVision…) you can have the open up in their own windows.




Designer of all sorts, web developer and data nerd. Trained engineer, yoga teacher in training.

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Alex Brovkin

Alex Brovkin

Designer of all sorts, web developer and data nerd. Trained engineer, yoga teacher in training.

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