Useful GNOME Shell Keyboard Shortcuts You Might Not Know About

As Ubuntu has moved to Gnome Shell in its 17.10 release, many users may be interested to discover some of the most useful shortcuts in Gnome as well as how to create your own shortcuts. This article will explain both.

Existing GNOME Shell Shortcuts to Make Your Life Easier

If you expect GNOME to ship with hundreds or thousands of shell shortcuts, you will be disappointed to learn this isn’t the case. The list of shortcuts isn’t miles long, and not all of them will be useful to you, but there are still many keyboard shortcuts you can take advantage of.


To access the list of shortcuts, go to “Settings -> Devices -> Keyboard.” Here are some less popular, yet useful shortcuts.

  • Ctrl + Alt +T – this combination launches the terminal; you can use this from anywhere within GNOME

Two shortcuts I personally use quite frequently are:

  • Alt + F4 – close the window on focus
  • Alt + F8 – resize the window

Most of you know how to switch between open applications (Alt + Tab), but you may not know you can use Alt + Shift + Tab to cycle through applications in reverse direction.

Another useful combination for switching within the windows of an application is Alt + (key above Tab) (example: Alt + ` on a US keyboard).

If you want to show the Activities overview, use Alt + F1.

There are quite a lot of shortcuts related to workspaces. If you are like me and don’t use multiple workspaces frequently, these shortcuts are useless to you. Still, some of the ones worth noting are the following:

  • Super + PageUp (or PageDown) moves to the workspace above or below
  • Ctrl + Alt + Left (or Right) moves to the workspace on the left/right

If you add Shift to these commands, e.g. Shift + Ctrl + Alt + Left, you move the window one worskpace above, below, to the left, or to the right.

Another favorite keyboard shortcut of mine is in the Accessibility section – Increase/Decrease Text Size. You can use Ctrl + + (and Ctrl + ) to zoom text size quickly. In some cases, this may be disabled by default, so do check it out before you try it.

The above-mentioned shortcuts are lesser known, yet useful keyboard shortcuts. If you are curious to see what else is available, you can check the official GNOME shell cheat sheet.

How to Create Your Own Gnome Shell Shortcuts

If the default shortcuts are not to your liking, you can change them or create new ones. You do this from the same “Settings -> Devices -> Keyboard” dialog. Just select the entry you want to change, and the following dialog will popup.


Enter the keyboard combination you want.


If it is already in use you will get a message. If not, just click Set, and you are done.

If you want to add new shortcuts rather than change existing ones, scroll down until you see the “Plus” sign, click it, and in the dialog that appears, enter the name and keys of your new keyboard shortcut.


GNOME doesn’t come with tons of shell shortcuts by default, and the above listed ones are some of the more useful ones. If these shortcuts are not enough for you, you can always create your own. Let us know if this is helpful to you.

Ada Ivanova
Ada Ivanova

I am a fulltime freelancer who loves technology. Linux and Web technologies are my main interests and two of the topics I most frequently write about.

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