Esc key is not a convenient key to hit on the keyboard. When learning to use Vim, you often get the recommendation to remap your
<Caps Lock> key to your
<Esc> key (i.e. when you hit your
Caps Lock key the computer treats it as if you’ve hit the
Esc key). The argument is typically:
Esckey is inconvenient to hit
Caps Lockkey is seldom, if ever, used
Caps Lockkey is easy to hit
While these are all valid points, this argument overlooks the negative impact of customization and muscle memory.
Usually muscle memory is a good thing. Your body performs some routine process (like hitting a certain key) without concentrating on performing the task. When you use
Caps Lock as
Esc, you build up that muscle memory. This is great until you’re working on a machine where this customization is not in place. Perhaps you’re SSHing into a machine or using someone else’s laptop, whatever the reason
Caps Lock no longer behaves as
Esc. In this situation you’ll be fighting muscle memory every step of the way.
In Vim hitting the
CTRL key and the
[ key at the same time (often written
CTRL-[) is the same as hitting the
Esc key. Vim help even includes this recommendation (see
Note: If your
key is hard to hit on your keyboard, train yourself to use CTRL-[.
While some will argue that shifting your hands to hit these two buttons at the same time is inefficient, this has become part of my muscle memory and is now effortless. This muscle memory that is applicable on all Vim installations by default has served me well.