It seems like ctrl + W deletes backwards one word at a time. That's great, but I'd really really like that this works with ctrl + backspace like most other apps.

What's the best way to do this? I'd need the change to affect gnome-terminal commands, command line vim and GUI vim.

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    In vim you can press D then, B and it will do the same thing. However, I too miss this feature in the terminal because you have to esc out and it doesn't work while operating in Insert mode. Awesome tip for CTRL + W. – mchid Nov 24 '15 at 5:45

Note that this will work in the terminal and the default emacs mode (which you are using if Ctrl+W deletes the previous word for you). It will not work in bash's vi mode and will not affect vi/vim itself. This is, therefore, only a partial answer but the best this emacs user can offer.

This sort of thing is managed by the readline library whose behavior can be controlled via ~/.inputrc. Edit (or create, if it doesn't exist) ~/.inputrc and add this line:


Now, open a new terminal and it should work.


The \C-H is actually Control+BackSpace. You can see keycodes by pressing Ctrl+V then, the key you are after. You will see that BackSpace returns ^H.

Now, it should be possible to bind Control+BackSpace to the bash function that deletes the previous word (backward-kill-word or unix-word-rubout) by using "\C-H": backward-kill-word. However, I can't get that to work. It works perfectly well with different keys ("\C-E": backward-kill-word, for example, makes Ctrl+E delete the previous word) but for some reason, I can't get it to work with BackSpace.

So, as a workaround, we just map Ctrl+Backspace to Ctrl+W which is already mapped to backward-kill-word. So, when you press Ctrl+Backspace, that will be translated to Ctrl+W which, in turn, will send backward-kill-word. I got the idea for this workaround from this SU post.

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Up until very recently, gnome-terminal emitted the same code on Backspace and Ctrl+Backspace, hence you cannot distinguish the two in your application.

This was fixed in vte-0.42, which is part of Gnome 3.18 released this autumn.

If you're using Wily, you can find updated packages in Gnome3 Staging.

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Use Alt+Backspace instead: it works just like Ctrl+Backspace and doesn't require any configuration.

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It works on my machine. Just make sure you use tmux from master and nvim from linuxbrew and control+backspace works in bash and vim too!

(Get bash from linuxbrew too)

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