The use of an english keyboard layout is a good choice for every programmer since all brackets and important symbols are far better reachable than on the german keyboard layout, but there’s one problem, the umlaute.

Umlaute and the english layout

It’s quite tedious to use something like setxkbmap de to write a german email and change back if there’s any code in sight.

But there’s a really simple and beautiful solution: Xmodmap

Using Xmodmap you can customize your keyboard layout, but simply adding those umlaute would not do the trick. The best option is to use Capslock as a modifier key.

Then, you can use Capslock + a to print an ä for example.

  • Caps Lock + a -> ä
  • Caps Lock + u -> ü
  • Caps Lock + o -> ö
  • Caps Lock + s -> ß
  • Caps Lock + t ->

Add Shift to write upper case.


Here’s the config:

keycode 66 = Mode_switch Multi_key
keycode 39 = s S ssharp
keycode 38 = a A adiaeresis Adiaeresis
keycode 30 = u U udiaeresis Udiaeresis
keycode 32 = o O odiaeresis Odiaeresis
keycode 28 = t T EuroSign EuroSign

Activate it using xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap