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Layers module adds keys for accessing other layers. It can simply be added to the extensions list.

from kmk.modules.layers import Layers


Key Description
KC.FD(layer) Replaces the top layer
KC.DF(layer) Switches the default layer until the next time the keyboard powers off
KC.MO(layer) Momentarily activates layer, switches off when you let go
KC.LM(layer, mod) As MO(layer) but with mod active
KC.LT(layer, kc) Momentarily activates layer if held, sends kc if tapped
KC.TG(layer) Toggles the layer (enables it if not active, and vice versa)
KC.TO(layer) Activates layer and deactivates all other layers
KC.TT(layer) Momentarily activates layer if held, toggles it if tapped repeatedly

Custom HoldTap Behavior

KC.TT and KC.LT use the same heuristic to determine taps and holds as HoldTap. Check out the HoldTap doc to find out more.

Working with Layers

When starting out, care should be taken when working with layers, since it's possible to lock yourself to a layer with no way of returning to the base layer short of unplugging your keyboard. This is especially easy to do when using the KC.TO() keycode, which deactivates all other layers in the stack.

Some helpful guidelines to keep in mind as you design your layers: - Only reference higher-numbered layers from a given layer - Leave keys as KC.TRNS in higher layers when they would overlap with a layer-switch

Using Combo Layers

Combo Layers allow you to activate a corresponding layer based on the activation of 2 or more other layers. The advantage of using Combo layers is that when you release one of the layer keys, it stays on whatever layer is still being held. See combo layers documentation for more information on it's function and to see examples.

Using Multiple Base Layers

In some cases, you may want to have more than one base layer (for instance you want to use both QWERTY and Dvorak layouts, or you have a custom gamepad that can switch between different games). In this case, best practice is to have these layers be the lowest, i.e. defined first in your keymap. These layers are mutually-exclusive, so treat changing default layers with KC.DF() the same way that you would treat using KC.TO()

Example Code

For our example, let's take a simple 3x3 macropad with two layers as follows:

from kmk.modules.layers import Layers

# Layer Keys
LAYER_TAP = KC.LT(1, KC.END, prefer_hold=True, tap_interrupted=False, tap_time=250) # any tap longer than 250ms will be interpreted as a hold

keyboard.keymap = [
    # Base layer
        KC.NO,  KC.UP,  KC.NO,  

    # Function Layer
        KC.F1,  KC.F2,  KC.F3,
        KC.F4,  KC.F5,  KC.F6,

Active Layer indication with RGB

A common question is: "How do I change RGB background based on my active layer?" Here is one (simple) way of many to go about it.

To indicate active layer you can use RGB background, or in many cases board's status LED, then no additional hardware is needed. Information about the LED type and to which GPIO pin it is connected is often available on the pinout of the board and in the documentation.

In this example on board RGB status LED is used. Number of layers is unlimited and only chosen layers can be used. Note, that LED's basic colors can have different order for different hardware.

import board

from kmk.extensions.rgb import RGB
from kmk.modules.layers import Layers

class LayerRGB(RGB):
    def on_layer_change(self, layer):
        if layer == 0:
            self.set_hsv_fill(0, self.sat_default, self.val_default)   # red
        elif layer == 1:
            self.set_hsv_fill(170, self.sat_default, self.val_default) # blue
        elif layer == 2:
            self.set_hsv_fill(43, self.sat_default, self.val_default)  # yellow
        elif layer == 4:
            self.set_hsv_fill(0, 0, self.val_default)                  # white

rgb = LayerRGB(pixel_pin=board.GP16, # GPIO pin of the status LED, or background RGB light
        num_pixels=1,                # one if status LED, more if background RGB light
        rgb_order=(0, 1, 2),         # RGB order may differ depending on the hardware
        hue_default=0,               # in range 0-255: 0/255-red, 85-green, 170-blue

class RGBLayers(Layers):
    def activate_layer(self, keyboard, layer, idx=None):
        super().activate_layer(keyboard, layer, idx)

    def deactivate_layer(self, keyboard, layer):
        super().deactivate_layer(keyboard, layer)