How to change your keyboard layout from the terminal on Linux


Very short post today. Since I use a computer with a British keyboard I need to constantly change to Spanish when I want to type something in my mother tongue. We have a few characters that don’t exist in the English alphabet and even though I could use ASCII codes changing the layout is much easier and faster.

I work with the terminal a lot so I just use the following command

$  setxkbmap es #or other layout code

In my case I use two codes, es for the Spanish keyboard and gb for the British one.

To make this even faster and easier I’ve created a couple of aliases. I keep thing in ~/.zshrc because I use Z shell (zsh), but depending on your shell you’ll need to configure them in other files, for example, ~/.bashrc for Bash.

Simply edit the file and create the alises, these are mine:

# Edit ~/.zshrc
$ vim ~/.zshrc

alias lan_gb='setxkbmap gb' #Change to British keyboard
alias lan_es='setxkbmap es'  #Change to Spanish keyboard

Once you’ve done this save and quit the editor. You can close and reopen your terminal or just source ~/.zshrc. You’ll be able to use your aliases after that.

Important! These changes aren’t persistent. When you reboot or close your session the keyboard layout will go back to whatever its default is.

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