Useful Keyboard Shortcuts For Ubuntu

Keyboard shortcuts greatly improve productivity and even come to rescue when something goes wrong and you cant access the GUI. Here is the list of these keyboard shortcuts that I think every Ubuntu user should be aware of.

Although this article is mostly targeted at beginners, I am sureexperienced users will find shortcuts 14-18 useful.

1. Run Applications with Run dialogue :

Pressing Alt+F2 brings up the Run Application box where you can type the application names to execute. It can open the folders too by typing the folder paths. It can also be used for launching the graphical programs with root permissions like  “gksu synaptic” will launch synaptic with root privileges.

2. Show Desktop :

You can toggle Show Desktop with combination Ctrl+Alt+D.This can be useful especially when many windows are maximized and you want the quick way to access the desktop. The minimized windows can be restoredagain by pressing the same key combination.

3. Switch between Workspaces :

Switch to other workspaces by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Right arrow or Left arrow. Pretty useful if you use more than workspaces to organize windows. I currently use 4 of them – Browsing, Coding, Installations, Media. You can configure number of workspaces by right click windows besides recycle bin in bottom right corner and then go to preferences.

4. Move windows :

If you want to show off your keyboard shortcuts then this could be a good addition. You can activate Move window by pressing Alt+F7. A little hand cursor will appear and then move window by Up/Down/Left/Right keys and after you are done just press Enter key.

5. Take screenshot of currently active window :

We know Print Screen(SysRq) button to take screenshot of whole screen but did you knowAlt+SysRq captures screenshot of currently active window?

6. Refresh window or Desktop :

If you come from Windows, you must have noticed that there is no Refresh menu when Desktop is right clicked. You can Refresh any window or Desktop by pressing F5 or Ctrl+R.

7. Open Applications menu from Top panel :

The Applications menu can be opened by pressing Alt+F1. You can browse through this meny by arrow keys.

8. Open new background tab in Firefox/Opera (Not really Ubuntu related, but it helps):

Many of us don`t know this trick.If you want to open a link in new tab press middle mouse button or Ctrl+click on that link. For this to work in Opera you need to set preference from Tools > Preferences > Advanced > Shortcuts > Middle click option > Open in new background tab. For Firefox, it should work without configuration.

You can also close the tab by middle click on it.

I use this all the time while browsing to open links in background tabs and read them later when I am done with current page. It loads links in background so you can instantly switch to them and not wait for pages to load.

9. Shortcut for Mouse right click :

You can achive mouse right click with combination  Shift + F10. Very useful if you are browsing huge file list using keyboard.

10. Folder/File properties :

Quickly open file/folder properties by highlighting and pressing Alt+Enter.

11. Lock screen instantly :

This might be a good idea if you are using computer at work/home and need privacy when you are away from machine. Lock screen instantly with Ctrl+Alt+L.

12. Switch to virtual terminals tty :

By default Ubuntu has 7 virtual terminals named tty and numbered from tty1 to tty7.  You can switch between terminals by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1 to F7. If you switch to some tty1-6 and want to come back to GUI mode, press Ctrl+Alt+F7 as X server runs on terminal 7 (by default). Few drivers are to be installed from terminal 1 to 6 like nvidia drivers.

13. Shutdown computer prompt :

Instead of going to top panel when you want to shutdown/restart machine you can useCtrl+Alt+Del which shows the same prompt.

14. Restart X server :

Generally all display problems can be fixed by a simple restart of X server. This can be done by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Backspace. For 9.04 Jaunty the new shortcut is left Alt+SysRq(Print Screen button)+K. If you want to restore old behavior of Ctrl+Alt+Backspace

15. Safe Reboot :

You can safely reboot Ubuntu by holding Alt+SysRq and then tap in order R, E, I, S, U, B.

When system completely locks up and you can cant use tty terminals too, use this. It sends signal to kernel, unmounts all partitions and kills all processes. You need to hold Alt+SysRq and press other keys in order one by one.

16. Emergency Resync of drives :

Left Alt+SysRq+S attempts to resync all mounted drives. Use this from tty1-tty6.

17. Remount all drives as Read only :

When you want to do emergency reboot use Alt+SysRq+U to remount all drives as read-only. Use this before you do kernel reboot.

18. Instant Reboot :

When system hangs and nothing work, you can do instant reboot using Alt+SysRq+B. Be careful, it will cause data loss if you dont remount drives by pressing Alt+SysRq+U and then emergency resync of drives by Alt+SysRq+S first.


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