Tap dance and Caps word

June 10, 2024

If you’re into mechanical keyboards, you probably know about Tap dances and Caps words already. If not, well these are two features of QMK:

As the Tap dance docs clearly state, a Tap dance can trigger basic key codes only: meaning letters, modifiers, etc., but not Caps words. I briefly experimented on my Preonic, trying to get the backtick key to turn on Caps word, using the basic Tap dance macros, but it failed to trigger anything. Frustrating.

Either I’m holding it wrong, or the docs are correct. Both things are equally possible. :)

But fear not dear reader! Of course you can trigger Caps word from a Tap dance. You’ll just need to write a bit of C, to customize the board’s keymap.

Let’s look into this here.

First, change rules.mk to enable both features, adding:


I also like to have an explicit tapping-term, which defines how long the board waits for your taps to decide what to do next… I’m not sure whether that’s a good definition, but that’s how my brain explains it.

Change config.h to define this as needed, for example:

#define TAPPING_TERM 200

This means you have 200ms to double-tap your keys. This tapping term is also shared with Tap-or-hold custom keycodes, so maybe you will need to figure out per-key tap terms later. YMMV.

The meat of this little hack lives inside keymap.c.

Let’s add a cur_dance helper that will tell use where we’re at in our Tap dance:

// Some Tap Dance states
enum {

int cur_dance(tap_dance_state_t *state) {
	if ((state->count == 1) && (!state->pressed)) return SINGLE_TAP;
	else if ((state->count == 1) && (state->pressed)) return SINGLE_HOLD;
	else if ((state->count == 2) && (!state->pressed)) return DOUBLE_TAP;
	else if ((state->count == 2) && (state->pressed)) return DOUBLE_HOLD;

	// magic number. At some point this method could expand to work for more presses
	else return 5;

The logic is pretty simple. For our use case, we also need 2 functions to hook in the finished and reset callbacks of a Tap dance. Let’s add these next:

// Tap-dance is over.
void dance_cw_finished(tap_dance_state_t *state, void *user_data) {
	int dance = cur_dance(state);

	if (dance == SINGLE_TAP) {
		register_code(KC_GRV); // single tap -> backtick key
	if (dance == DOUBLE_TAP) {
		caps_word_on(); // double tap -> caps words

// Clear the tap-dance floor.
void dance_cw_reset(tap_dance_state_t *state, void *user_data) {
	if (state->count == 1) {
		unregister_code(KC_GRV); // Stop sending backtick.

What’s left is some boiler-plate to register our handlers as a Tap dance, named TD_GRV_CW, which is a pretty bad name if you try to pronounce it. It did made sense at the time:

// Backtick or Caps-word tap-dance.
enum {

tap_dance_action_t tap_dance_actions[] = {
	// Tap once for ` (backtick), twice for Caps-word.
	[TD_GRV_CW] = ACTION_TAP_DANCE_FN_ADVANCED(NULL, dance_cw_finished, dance_cw_reset),

On your board configuration, you can replace KC_GRV with TD(TD_GRV_CW), then compile and flash as usual, now double tapping the backtick key will activate Caps-word, rejoice.


Dancing is nice(r) with music. My rev3 Preonic has a (possibly annoying) speaker. Wouldn’t it be nice to play a few notes as you activate a tap dance? I’m sure everybody around would love it.

Also, what if I want to have a Tap dance on a different key like Left Control or something?

So many possibilities… Maybe I’ll write about that here next, in a couple of years if this site’s post frequency is stable.

Thanks for reading.