10 Useful Ubuntu Keyboard Shortcuts That You Might Not Know

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Previously, Mark has covered some of the essential keyboard shortcuts for Windows, Firefox, Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Reader. In this post, we are going to look at some of the useful keyboard shortcuts for Ubuntu.

For those who are not familiar with Linux, Ubuntu is one of the most popular and most widely used Linux distributions.

Over the years that I have used Ubuntu, other than the usual Ctrl + C (copy) and Ctrl + V (paste) shortcuts, I have discovered quite a number of keyboard shortcuts that are very useful, but seldom used by many. If you are looking for more keyboard shortcuts to add to your collection, I am sure you will be able to find some new tricks here.

1. Switch to the next/previous workspace

If you make use of the workspace very frequently, you can easily switch between different workspaces by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Left/Right Arrow. The Left key brings you to the previous workspace while the Right key brings you to the next adjacent. If you have enabled Compiz, you can even get it to show all the workspace by pressing Super + E on the keyboard.

2. Move the current window to another workspace

By pressing Shift+ Ctrl + Alt + Left/Right Arrow, you can easily move your current window to another workspace in the specified direction. This keyboard shortcut works very well with the one mentioned above. If you have the habit of opening many applications/windows when doing your work, but don’t like to see your desktop and menubar cluttered with all the application windows, you can use this shortcut key to move your applications to another workspace and get your desktop organized.

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3. Show the desktop

Ctrl + Alt + D enables you to quickly minimize all windows and give focus to the desktop. When all windows are minimized, this shortcut can also maximize all the windows to their previous state.

4. Keyboard shortcut for the mouse right-click

In most applications, you can always right-click on the mouse to access the options menu. On the keyboard, you can simply press Shift + F10 to achieve this ‘right-click‘ effect

5. Restart session and recover from crashes

There are very few instances where Ubuntu will crash totally. But if it does, you can press Ctrl + Alt + Backspace to restart the session, and 90% of the time, it will recover from the crashes.

6. Lock the screen quickly

If you need to leave your workstation for a while, you can quickly lock up your screen by pressing Ctrl + Alt + L and prevent unauthorized access by others.

7. Switch between windows in the reverse direction

Alt + Tab is a common shortcut key that allow you to switch between open windows. But do you know that by including the ‘Shift‘ button, you can reverse the windows switching direction? This is useful when you press Alt + Tab too fast and passed the window that you want to switch to. Simply press down the ‘Shift‘ button to go back to the previous window in the switch cycle.

8. Move windows with arrow keys

Press Alt+F7 to activate the Move window function and use any arrows key (up, down, left, right) to move the window around the screen.

9. Show hidden files

Most of the time, you won’t need to view the hidden files in your home folder, but in the event that you need to, you can press Ctrl + H inside the Nautilus (the file manager for Ubuntu) to show all hidden files.

10. Show file properties without right-clicking the mouse

The conventional way to view a file/folder properties is to right-click the mouse and select ‘Properties‘. Now you can just press Alt + Enter to get the Properties window to appear.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you want more shortcuts and not only for Ubuntu but also for Gmail, Google Search, Firefox and other programs then go straight to our Cheat Sheets Page. There are 9 PDF cheat sheets there for you to download.

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14 Comments - Write a Comment



forgot (alt+sys rq) R-E-I-S-U-B
restart semi safely if you cant do normal reboot



To clarify nate’s post:

Should your system completely lock up, and you need to do a hard reboot – do this instead. It works by sending signals directly to the linux kernel, to unmount all partitions, kill processes, etc, relatively safely:

Holding ALT, tap [sys rq], r, e, i, s, u, b.

Wait a couple seconds between each of the letters to ensure it finishes the operations before starting the next. ‘b’ causes a reboot, so no need to touch the power button. On laptops like mine, you may need to hold the [fn] button while hitting [sys rq] – don’t hold it for any other buttons.

Damien Oh

That’s a good one.



It’s worthy to mention that for those shortcuts to work, they have to be not conflicting with other keyboard shortcuts from Compiz.. Excellent compilation though..


abdul naveed

Ooops!!!! shorcut to show the desktop press windows+ D.



oh, nice article – check this out




Keyboard mapping is also easy in Ubuntu. My windows logo key opens Gnome-Terminal, something that turned out to be very handy as I use it all the time.



I think it’s worth being noted that these keyboard shortcuts will work on distros other than just Ubuntu. These tend to be rather common shortcuts, and some of which even work in Windows.



These shortcuts ARE for Gnome (the desktop manager). Please, note the difference between a distribution like Ubuntu (or Fedora, Debian, Gentoo, …) and the desktop manager used (Gnome, KDE, XFCE, …).


Dwayne from Probably Sucks Blog

Amazing. I just finished installing Ubuntu on an old laptop cause XP is chewing threw too much RAM, and this post comes up in StumbleUpon. I’m relatively new to Linux, so these tips have come in handy. Therefore, I like this post and it gets a thumbs up on StumbleUpon.





thanks for this! very helpful.



alt-backspace kills the X Server, which is restarted by init.d, so yes, it’s neither a gnome shrotcut nor a ubuntu one.

Checkout also windows-e to view your desktops in widescreen mode, windows-m for reverse-video mode, alt-Fx to switch between sessions.



Thank you !!!



Size and align of current window:
Ctrl+Alt +NumPad7 // Left Top
Ctrl+Alt +NumPad8 // Top
Ctrl+Alt +NumPad9 // Right Top
Ctrl+Alt +NumPad5 // Center

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