2.1.0 • Public • Published

JavaScript keyboard events to strings

This library converts the event object of a JavaScript keydown event into a humanly readable format. The idea is to use this for UI components that let the user choose keyboard shortcuts. It can also be used as a developer-facing tool so keyboard shortcuts have a single, canonical string name (like in a big switch statement).


$ npm install --save keyboard-event-to-string


import {
  toString as event2String
} from 'keyboard-event-to-string'

document.body.onkeydown = (e) => {
	var keys = event2string(e)
	console.log(keys) // e.g. "Ctrl + KeyA"


options , if used, is an object with some or all of the following properties:

key value default value
cmd What string to display for the Cmd/Meta modifier "Cmd"
ctrl What string to display for the Ctrl modifier "Ctrl"
alt What string to display for the Alt/Option modifier "Alt"
shift What string to display for the Shift modifier "Shift"
joinWith The string that's displayed between all keys " + "
hideKey Whether to remove the "Key" from the front of key names "never"

For example this could be used to get the Mac style keyboard shortcut strings globally:

import { setOptions } from 'keyboard-event-to-string'
	cmd: "⌘",
	ctrl: "⌃",
	alt: "⌥",
	shift: "⇧",
	joinWith: "",
  hideKey: 'always'

The default settings are compatible with the format that common keyboard shortcut libraries, like keymaster or Mousetrap, accept.

If you're trying to make the information readable by users, the default key names are awkward. The word "Key" is prefixed to many of the key names, which is obvious or redundant. The hideKey option allows filtering the word out, either globally or conditionally. The permitted values are: 'never' | 'always' | 'alpha' | 'alphanumeric'.

To restore to the defaults, use setOptions({}).

Detailed information

import { details } from 'keyboard-event-to-string'

details can be used to get more details on an event. This can be useful for validating keyboard shortcuts, e.g. for requiring a modifier and a normal key. It returns an object with this information:

  • hasModifier: True iff atleast one of cmd, ctrl, alt or shift was pressed
  • hasKey: True iff a key other than a modifier is pressed
  • map: An object containing information which modifier is active and what other key is pressed

Release Notes

  • 2.1.0 Add configuration of "hideKey"
  • 2.0.0 November 2021. First official typescript release.
  • In Sept 2021, I (ndp) renamed this from key- to keyboard- so that I could publish my forked NPM package.
  • In 2021, I (ndp) converted this library to Typescript to suit a web project AmpWhat. Feel free to offer contributions.
  • This now uses the code of the KeyboardEvent, per general recommendations. This is different. This will not be backward compatible.



  • This library is meant to parse only keydown events. keypress / keyup events have small differences, e..g. keydown is needed to capture Command on a Mac. So keydown is advisible for this anyways.
  • I wrote this library for an Electron side project, so I only needed it to run in the Chrome runtime. It probably won't work well in old browsers
  • JavaScript keyCodes don't work well with special international characters. E.g. the German umlaut ö has the same keyCode as ;, on a German keyboard. This library doesn't try to fix that and I don't think there's a good fix for all those special cases. Other keyboard shortcut libraries (Mousetrap/keymaster e.g.) have the same problem, so it shouldn't be a big problem since this library is meant to be used as a helper for those libraries This library now uses KeyboardEvent.code, per current recommendations. The names of some of the keys may not be exactly what is desired, but they are "standard".


Code of conduct, and all that stuff.

This project depends on yarn. You'll need to do that before you can run yarn install.

This uses Gauge for tests. You can write tests in markdown, and avoid all the ugly nesting and async/await of most JS testing frameworks. This should be installed automatically with your yarn install. To run tests, yarn test.

To release, adjust the version number in package.json and npm publish.


  • used a Log Rocket blog post to create the typescript package.
  • the original package included this comment, and I'm not sure it's that relevant any more: "This library provides the inverse functionality to common keyboard shortcut binding libraries like keymaster or Mousetrap."


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  • ndp