5 Ubuntu Unity Features You May Not Have Known About

Ubuntu Unity has been around for a while and debuted in release 11.04. Since then Canonical has been introducing new features in each release. Some features have been embraced by the Ubuntu community at large. As a result, these features are still talked about to this day. Other features are not so lucky.

In this article we’ll talk about a few Ubuntu Unity features that you might not know exist. These aren’t hidden features by any means, just some useful aspects of Unity that are small but aren’t really talked about much anymore. Here are five Ubuntu Unity features you may not have known about!

1. HUD


Did you know pressing the “Alt” key while using any program in Unity reveals a “type your command” window? This window is known as the Unity HUD. This is a very useful feature that isn’t as talked about anymore. Regardless of notoriety, the Unity HUD allows the user to issue commands directly to the program in focus.

For example, typing the word “new” in the HUD while a terminal is in focus will print out various “new” related functions that the terminal window has: new terminal, new profile, etc. Essentially, the HUD gives the Unity desktop more direct control over the apps on the desktop. It’s very useful for those who regularly find themselves using the keyboard more than the mouse.

2. Launching a program on the Launcher with the Super key


Saving a program on the Unity launcher allows a user to launch it in an instant. However, what most might not know is that each program on the Unity dock is numbered, one through nine specifically. Pressing the Super key (windows key) + 1 through 9 will instantly launch one of the programs in the Unity launcher.

This means if what you want is to open the file manager, it is possible to do it instantly by pressing “Super + 1,” and so on.

3. Using the Super key to launch specific lenses


Unity has a feature called “lenses.” This feature allows the Unity Dash to specifically filter out certain things and search for them. The Music lens searches music, the Pictures lens searches for photos, and so on. It turns out it is possible to have the Unity dash open directly to any of the pre-installed lenses on Ubuntu.

  • Super + A: Apps lens
  • Super + F: Files lens
  • Super + M: Music lens
  • Super + C: Photo lens
  • Super + V: Videos lens

4. Using the Super key to open the trash


Much like how the Super key can be used to launch specific apps in the launcher, it can open the Trash folder too. With Unity, pressing the “Super + T” key launches the trash folder. This is handy because it saves time. There’s no need to even click the trash icon – just “Super + T” to get to the trash!

5. Reveal keybindings


The Unity desktop has many little keybindings (like the ones discussed above) that are used to interact with the desktop. A useful, but lesser known feature, is that at any time the user can reveal these shortcuts to be looked at. To reveal shortcuts and keybindings, go to the Unity desktop and hold down the Super key. Doing so will reveal a detailed list of all the little commands that users can use to interact with the Unity desktop.


For all the hate it gets by the Linux community at large, Unity is a great desktop. Each release Canonical takes the time to add more polish and professionalism onto their desktop. It’s the little things that make it great, and if this article proves anything, it is that there isn’t a shortage of little things in Unity that make it worthwhile.

Derrik Diener
Derrik Diener

Derrik Diener is a freelance technology blogger.

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