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How to use a keyboard shortcut

Traditionally, keyboard shortcuts are written like so: Alt + F1. This means that you should press the Alt and F1 keys simultaneously. This is normally best achieved by holding down the modifierkey (such as Ctrl or Alt or the Super(windows logo) key) and then pressing the second key once. You can then release the modifier key.

Natty 11.04 - Unity Desktop shortcuts

Some useful links for learning Unity Desktop shortcuts Some images of Natty shortcuts for your desktop background:

Finding keyboard shortcuts

Finding system keyboard shortcuts To find (and change) system-level keyboard shortcuts, one can (at least in later, GNOME-based distros, e.g. ubuntu karmic) run the Keyboard Shortcuts applet, e.g. via System>Preferences>Keyboard Shortcuts on the main menu. Finding application-specific keyboard shortcuts While there are many standard keyboard shortcuts (see below), most applications also have keyboard shortcuts which are specific to themselves. These can normally be found in the pull-down menus at the top of the application's screen. The example below shows a menu in Writer, with the keyboard shortcuts highlighted:

Desktop shortcuts

This section lists common keyboard shortcuts which you can use to operate parts of the desktop (such as windows and the menu bar).
Open the Applications menu Alt + F1 Run an application by typing its name in the box which appears Alt + F2 (Print Screen) Take a screenshot of the whole screen Prt Sc Alt + Prt Sc Take a screenshot of the current window

Window shortcuts Alt + Tab - Switch between currently-open windows. Press Alt + Tab and then release Tab (but continue to hold Alt). Press Tab repeatedly to cycle through the list of available windows which appears on the screen. Release the Alt key to switch to the selected window. Ctrl + Alt + Tab - Switch between currently-open windows in all Workspaces. Press Tab repeatedly to cycle through the list of available windows which appears on the screen. Release the Ctrl and Alt keys to switch to the selected window. Ctrl + Alt + Left/Right Cursor - Lets you quickly switch between your Workspaces. These might not work on every machine, but are reasonably common: Alt+F7 Moves the current window (can be moved with mouse or keyboard). Alt+F8 Resizes current window (again,can be moved with mouse or keyboard). Alt+F9 Minimises current window. Alt+F10 Maximises current window. Alt+Space Brings up window menu with with 'Always on Top' and 'Minimise' and 'Maximise' and above commands. These might change depending on the application you're using, but work for most common applications: Alt+F5 Returns window to 'normal' or previous size. Alt+F4 Closes window.

Desktop Effects enabled shortcuts

All of the shortcuts listed in this section require Desktop Effects to be enabled.
Ctrl + Alt + Left/Right Cursor Ctrl + Alt + Up Cursor Spins the 'cube' that your workspaces reside on, allowing you to select the workspace you wish to use.

Enables an 'expose' like feature that presents you with all the windows you currently have open, allowing you to select the one you wish to give focus to. Unfolds your workspace cube allowing you to see more than one of your Ctrl + Alt + workspaces at once, using the left and right cursor keys with this active will Down Cursor allow you to select the workspace you wish to use. Ctrl + Alt + Tab Switch between currently-open windows across all workspaces. Enables the 'scale' effect, it shows all windows from the current workspace. Super + W Enables the 'scale' effect, it shows all windows from all workspaces. Super + A Invert colours of the focused window. Super + N Invert colours for the whole screen. Super + M Super + Mouse Zooms in on the screen. Scroll Wheel Super + Middle Select a region to zoom into, using a rectangle. Mouse Button Toggles 'Show Desktop'. Ctrl + Alt + D Alt + Middle Resize focused window. Mouse Button Alt + Left Mouse Move focused window. Button Alt + Right Show window menu. Mouse Button Zoom out, show workspace switcher Super + S

Common application shortcuts

These shortcuts do not apply in all applications, but usually perform the functions listed below.
Ctrl + C Ctrl + X Ctrl + V Ctrl + A Ctrl + B Ctrl + I Ctrl + U Copy the selected text/object Cut the selected text/object Paste/insert the selected text/object Select all text Make the selected text bold Make the selected text italic Underline the selected text

Open a new document or window Ctrl + N Save the current document Ctrl + S Open another document Ctrl + O Print the current document Ctrl + P Undo the last change you made Ctrl + Z Ctrl + Shift + Z Redo a change that you just undid

System shortcuts
Some of these shortcuts will restart important parts of your system. Only use them if you have to.
Restart the computer immediately, without saving open files Ctrl + Alt + Plus (numeric keypad) Rotate through supported screen resolutions Ctrl + Alt + Minus (numeric Rotate backwards through supported screen resolutions keypad) Ctrl + Alt + Delete

A list of low-level keyboard shortcuts is available on Wikipedia.

Application-specific shortcuts
This section covers common keyboard shortcuts for some important applications which are installed by default in Ubuntu. Firefox Web Browser
Open a new tab Ctrl + T Rotate through each tab Ctrl + Tab Ctrl + Shift + Tab Rotate backwards through each tab Close the current tab (or browser if on last tab) Ctrl + W Enter a new web address Ctrl + L Show a list of your bookmarks Ctrl + B Show your browsing history Ctrl + H Enter a new web search in the search bar Ctrl + K Show a list of downloaded files Ctrl + Y Display the current page full-screen F11 Stop loading the current page Esc Reload the current page Ctrl + R

These might not work for everyone, but can help with accessibility issues: Alt Gr+Space Scrolls current tab/window down. Alt Gr+Backspace Scrolls current tab/window up. You may find Alt Gr+Shift+Space works if Alt Gr+Backspace does not. If you don't have Alt Gr, it might be labelled something else. It's usually to the right of the space bar. See Firefox Help for a full list of keyboard shortcuts. Writer
Check the spelling of the current document F7 Find and replace words Ctrl + F Undo the last change Ctrl + Z Redo a change which you just undid Ctrl + Y Align the current paragraph/selection to the left Ctrl + L Align the current paragraph/selection to the center of the document Ctrl + E Align the current paragraph/selection to the right Ctrl + R Ctrl + Shift + J Show the current document full-screen

Press Tools -> Customize... -> Keyboard to change keyboard shortcuts in OpenOffice.

Laptop Function Shortcuts

Many laptops have function (Fn) keys which you can hold down to access more functions on the laptop's keyboard. A list of these functions should be available from the manufacturer of the laptop.

Text Entry Shortcuts

If you want to have quick access to lines of text by using a hotkey, for example to enter your email address in forms, then you can use xbindkeys. Xbindkeys has a GUI utility to allow easy settings of hotkeys, but be aware that it's a little more complicated than the default Ubuntu Shortcutkeys interface. Install xbindkeys

sudo apt-get install xbindkeys

Create the default config file for xbindkeys

xbindkeys --defaults > /home/your-user-name/.xbindkeysrc

When thats done, install xbindkeys-config, the GUI for xbindkeys

sudo apt-get install xbindkeys-config

Now the utility the actually does the "typing"

sudo apt-get install xvkbd

Once each is installed, start both applications by bringing up "Run Application" with ALT -F2.


To keep the xbindkeys hotkeys active when you next start the computer you will have to add a new session, System --> Preferences --> Sessions. Put in the command "xbindkeys" into the command field (without the quotes). You should be able to see the "Xbindkeys Config" window. Start a new hotkey. Hit "New" on the bottom row of buttons. Then use the edit area at the top right. Give the hotkey a name. Hit the "GetKey" button to set the keypress for a hotkey. Some hotkeys may conflict with other hotkeys on the system (a window will open or a compiz plugin will activate). If this happens then choose another combination like CTRL - ALT - F for example. Now put the command to activate with that hotkey in the "Action" field. This can be anything, but to allow for the entry of a line of text into part of the GUI enter
xvkbd -xsendevent -text ""

The example shows an email address but it can be any line of text. Now hit "Apply" and test the hotkey in a Firefox field, text editor, or anywhere that text can be entered. Please note that using "Run Action" will not be able to test the command in xbindkeys-config, you will have to test it somewhere else. Replacing keys with other keys

If you want to use xbindkeys to override certain keys on your keyboard, you can catch them with xbindkeys, and then emit new keypresses using xmacro. To install xmacro, use:
sudo apt-get install xmacro

After this, you can find out the commands for specific keypresses by starting xmacrorec:
xmacrorec :0.0

First give it the key which will allow you to quit the app, then press the keys you want to know the codes for. After this, you can use those codes in the commands you tell xbindkeys to run, for example:
xmacroplay-keys :0.0 KeyStr Next

will simulate a key press of the PageDown key. Thus, in my .xbindkeysrc the following contents
"xmacroplay-keys :0.0 KeyStr Prior" XF86Back "xmacroplay-keys :0.0 KeyStr Next" XF86Forward