Epic keyboard layout change mode in Ubuntu

How often do you use your Caps Lock key? I’ve had it remapped to act as another Ctrl for years, but never actually used it as such. So how about using it for something useful, like keyboard layout switching (e.g., US <-> Bulgarian)?

It’s very common amongst the people I know to map left Ctrl+Shift or Alt+Shift to change keyboard layouts. However, this can often get in the way especially when working with editors such as Vim or Emacs – one moment you are typing with Latin letters, next you have magically switched to Cyrillic. You then find yourself having to shift from editing to sorting out whatever has gone wrong.

One more thing. The keyboard layout indicator in your OS – doesn’t that just waste space? Call me minimalistic, I prefer my screen free of clutter.

How to use the epic keyboard layout change mode:

  1. Open System Settings. In Unity or Gnome Shell just look for it in the launcher.
  2. Find the Keyboard applet.
  3. Select Layout Settings.
  4. Select Options… under Layouts.
  5. Customise:
    • Caps Lock key behaviour: leave at Default.
    • Key(s) to change layout: tick Caps Lock only.
    • Use keyboard LED to show alternative layout: tick Caps Lock only.

…and there you have it. Whenever you want to use your alternative layout, press Caps Lock and your keyboard LED indicator should light up indicating you are now typing in a different language.

I just need to find a good use for Num Lock now…

Does this work in other OSes? Let me know in the comments below.