How to create custom keyboard shortcuts in Ubuntu

This tutorial could (perhaps should) also be called “How to create custom keyboard shortcuts in Gnome” – as that’s essentially what it is.

There are a number of keyboard shortcuts available in the Gnome Desktop. I like to add a few custom shortcuts for opening applications that I use regularly. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Click System -> Preferences -> Keyboard Shortcuts.

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  3. You are presented with the Keyboard Shortcuts window.

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  5. The application that I use the most is Firefox, the default web browser in Ubuntu. I scroll down to Launch Web Browser and click on it. Note the Shortcut column in this window now has an entry named New Accelerator. You simply press the key combination you want to use as the shortcut and that shortcut is assigned.

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  7. Because Firefox is a web browser, I pressed ctrl+alt+w

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  9. Next I scrolled down to Home Folder and clicked on it.

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  11. This time I chose ctrl+alt+h

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  13. The last shortcut I wanted was one for opening a Terminal Window. Scroll to Terminal Window and click on it.

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  15. I chose ctrl+alt+t then clicked Close.

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  17. I pressed each of these key combinations one after the other and here are the results:

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  19. Don’t worry about accidentally assigning the same shortcut to multiple actions. If you try to assign a key combination that is already in use, a warning pops up informing you which action is already assigned to that key combination and you aren’t allowed to assign it.
  20. Some of you may have noticed that I have some unusual looking key combinations in my list such as 0xa1. These actually represent the multimedia keys on my keyboard. Multimedia keys are perfectly valid as shortcuts and can be assigned to any of the available actions. This means those volume up/down and mute keys will actually work just as well in Linux as they do in Windows, assuming you assign them to the correct action.
{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Toronaga December 13, 2008, 8:01 am

    A mi me ocurre que muchas no me funcionan, no se por que, la de terminal sí, pero la de Home, y el navegador no.
    En el teclado tengo 105 teclas.
    Las combinaciones con las teclas F1, F2 y sucesivas no fucionan tampoco.

  • didi May 10, 2009, 9:46 pm

    thank you very much cos.. i just newbie :))

  • Ciprian Pantea July 5, 2009, 11:59 am


    Thanks, this is very nice, I have to try it asap. How can I activate a window through a shortcut? I’m looking for a way to find a certain application in the list of running apps and activate it and bring it to front and maybe send some keystrokes to it. If you’re familiar with autoit3 on windows, I’m looking for something similar on linux.

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