Gnome 3 Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts

If are using GNOME 3 in Ubuntu or GNOME Shell desktop for the first time then you will have a hard time finding your way around the desktop.  The Gnome shell is tweaked for better keyboard and navigation support. Knowing a few useful shorcuts will help you to have a much better experience with Gnome 3.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Here are some useful shortcuts to give you a complete Gnome Shell experience.

Gnome Shell Shortcuts

  • System Key (Windows Key) - Allows you to switch between the overview and the desktop
  • Alt+F1 - (same as the above) Switches between overview and desktop
  • Alt+F2 – Opens the Command Dialog
  • Alt+Tab - Switches between the applications
  • Alt+Shift+Tab - Switches between the applications in reverse direction
  • Esc - Closes the command dialog, menus/calendar, overview, search in the overview, Looking Glass
  • Alt+[key above Tab] - Switches between the windows of the same application
  • Ctrl+Alt+Tab - Allows access to accessibility switcher
  • Ctrl+Shift+Alt+R - Allow to start screencast recording, hitting the same stops recording
  • Ctrl+Alt+Up/Down arrow - Allows you to switch between the workspace
  • Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Up/Down arrow - Move the current window to a different workspace

Tip: You can always view and change the keyboard shortcuts to your convenience  under the User Menu -> System Settings -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts

Command Dialog Shortcuts

You have to enter the these codes in the Command Dialog (Alt+F2) without the quotes to trigger the function.

  • ‘r’ or ‘restart’ - To restart GNOME Shell
  • ‘rt’ - To reload the GNOME Shell theme
  • ‘debugexit’ – To quit GNOME Shell

Window Shortcuts

Window shortcut keys allow you to use the keyboard to perform tasks on the currently focused window.

  • Alt+Tab – Switches between currently open windows
  • 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 various options as minimize, maximize, move…etc
  • Alt+F5 – Returns window to ‘normal’ or previous size
  • Alt+F4 – Closes window

Common Application Shortcuts

These shortcuts do not apply in all applications, but usually perform the functions listed below.

  • Ctrl + C – Copy the selected text/object
  • Ctrl + X - Cut the selected text/object
  • Ctrl + V – Paste/insert the selected text/object
  • Ctrl + A –  Select all text
  • Ctrl + B – Make the selected text bold
  • Ctrl + I – Make the selected text italic
  • Ctrl + U - Underline the selected text
  • Ctrl + N - Open a new document or window
  • Ctrl + S - Save the current document
  • Ctrl + O - Open another document
  • Ctrl + P - Print the current document
  • Ctrl + Z - Undo the last change you made
  • Ctrl + Shift + Z - Redo a change that you just undid
  • Ctrl + Q – Quit the current application

Useful Shortcuts

  • Prnt Scrn (Print Screen)Take a screenshot of the whole screen
  • Alt + Prt Sc – Take a screenshot of the current window
  • Alt+Ctrl+Del – Restart he system
  • Alt+Ctrl+L - Lock the screen

Mouse Tricks

  • Window maximizing - You can maximize a window by dragging it to the top edge of the screen. You can also double-click the window title to maximize. To unmaximize, pull it down again.
  • Moving your mouse pointer to the top left corner of the screen – will activate the overview
  • Middle clicking on the application icon – will launch it on a new workspace.
  • Right clicking on the application icon – for a running application will display a menu with window titles for selecting one of the windows.
  • Ctrl+Clicking on the application icon for a running application will open a new window of that application in the current workspace.

Please free suggest any left out shortcuts through our TIP US page or leave a comment below.

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13 Responses to “Gnome 3 Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts”

  1. Jackinthunder says:

    Thanks for the list it was very useful…

  2. rikelme says:

    Alt + middle mouse button – for easy window resizing (don’t need to move mouse pointer near the window edge)

  3. Cacasodo says:

    Thanks Vincellin..good stuff!

  4. Guilherme says:

    I suggest you include instructions on how to set up custom keyboards shortcuts.

  5. [...] I think the best tip you can use is about keyboard shortcuts to switch quickly between applications and workspaces.…use-shortcuts/ [...]

  6. TIL says:

    [...] 3 shell cheat sheet (another one) Helped navigating the new Gnome 3 shell. Which is nice [...]

  7. anstos says:

    Yeah the custom shortcuts took me a long time to find…

    User Menu > System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts Tab!

    maybe this was an update from the beta.. anyways yeah Gnome 3 with custom shortcuts!

    • marley says:

      I updated to ubuntu 11.10 (s de Oneiric) it broke my gnome classic. Anyways i installed gnome shell (works perfectly) and i found the custom shortcuts at User Menu > System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts Tab

  8. X says:

    Thanks, this is very useful for GNOME3 and Fedora 15!

  9. Bryan White says:

    [key above tab] = ‘grave’ :-)

  10. AlanLockwood says:

    Do you know how to clear the windows switch that you get when you press ALT + Tilde (the key above TAB).

    I don’t find how to clear it, and I need that key free for World of Warcraft shortcut.

    Thanks in advance.

  11. Matt says:

    Thanks for the list! Tried diffferent keys and stumbled across Alt + Esc – found that it seems that combination switches between open windows, instantly, without showing the icons for the open windows on screen first, like you get with Alt + Tab. I like having the choice of using Alt + Esc instead, it will fly through the open windows (with each window’s contents taking up the entire full – maximized window sized view of what’s active – without ever letting of Alt, just tap Esc.

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