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Friday, September 25, 2009

Using Windows key in Ubuntu

This article assumes a gnome 2.26 or Ubuntu Jaunty for this to work. The article is useless for windows users, as they have WINDOWS key auto configured for them by windows.
I was wondering if we could use the WINDOWS key in Ubuntu and was discussing with my friend. We both thought of configuring it in our Ubuntu box. Here is how we did it.
In Ubuntu or GNU/Linux terminology WINDOWS key is called super key or considered as Mod4 key. The default layout does not assume, the keyboard has a WINDOWS key. We need to tell the keyboard layout to consider WINDOWS key is Mod4 key. So there are two steps
Step 1: configuring WINDOWS key in keyboard layout
Substeps in text and image
Open the following gnome menus and perform actions in order
System --> Preferences --> Keyboard -->
See the below image
--> Select Layouts tab from the keyboard dialog --> Click Layout Options button -->
See the below image
--> Expand Alt/Win key behaviour node-->
See the below image
--> Select from the radio group "Super is mapped to windows key"
See the below image
Step 2: configuring keyboard shortcut
This is simple. Open System --> Preferences --> Keyboard Shortcuts

See the below image
Now select any action for which we need to apply shortcut from the opened dialog. Press windows key along with any combination to set a new windows key shortcut. For example, I configured Windows + L for locking my screen which will be shown as Mod4 + L and Windows + D for show desktop which will be shown as Mod4 + D. See the below screenshot
And that is it. Close the dialog, now we can enjoy the unused WINDOWS key in Ubuntu (if you have windows, you will already know how to use Windows + L to lock, Windows + D to bring desktop, Windows + E to bring explorer ... all of which you can configure)

Hope this is an enjoyable read


  1. Good post. As an FYI Ubuntu 9.10 has this be default now. You can just start using the windows key in your shortcuts.

  2. Thanks for the info about Ubuntu Karmic 9.10. Also the same works fine in arch linux which has gnome 2.28