Sign up ×
Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free.

The Ubuntu Heads-Up Display (HUD) - you love it or you hate it. Personally I rather like a classic desktop, so I use Xfce or GNOME-fork Cinnamon, and I'd like to keep those menu's where they are.

But the HUD is pretty awesome when your menus are complex and you forgot where an option sits. This makes that search trick very interesting.

I know the HUD is Unity specific. I am looking for a HUD-like tool to complement the menu in shells other than Unity.

There is Appmenu Runner for KDE that does this. There is also appmenu-qt for KDE.

Problem with the above is that it uses KDE libs, and it only works for KDE apps.

This is Linux, there aught to be something like this for GNOME/GTK apps, right?

Looking for any tool that can search the menus. I already use(d) Synapse, Kupfer and GNOME Do, but those are simply app-launchers (with some tricks). Something like that would suffice if only they included searching the menus for the currently focused application.

The HUD allows users to activate menu items by typing part of the name. It uses a fuzzy search algorithm that will highlight partial matches. It can match menu items that are multiple layers deep in an application's menu hierarchy. The feature, which replaces traditional menu accelerators, is activated by pressing the alt key.

Similar questions:

share|improve this question
+1 I'd like to see something similar to the HUD for other GTK based Desktops, but not in the in-your-face kind of way as it is now, and such a thing that worked as a plugin for Synapse, Kupfer and Gnome do would be awesome. – Uri Herrera May 17 '12 at 22:40
It should be possible to build a desktop-independent app for the HUD. It runs as a DBus service on Ubuntu, so someone "just" needs to write a nice UI to query it. – James Jun 9 '12 at 3:25
So maybe a Gnome-Do plugin querying the DBus service would be an interesting goal for some developer. :) – Redsandro Jun 11 '12 at 20:53
I am really searching to find an answer to this, as the HUD is the most powerful tool I have seen in Unity, so I would like an answer for this as well. I have reached the same conclusions, through searches as you. Did you also try lfhck? I see a similar post there. Jeez dude you tried everywhere didn't you? See almost exact posts all over for this. I am thinking that you hit a wall. I'll try to hit a deep search on this one. – No Time Apr 18 '14 at 5:14

4 Answers 4

There's qmenu_hud:

It just retrieves the menu entries over dbus and displays them in dmenu.

You still have to get your applications, or rather the toolkit they are using, to export their menu entries to dbus. This is easily done with appmenu-qt for KDE and Qt applications. I'm not sure but i think you need a patched version of gtk to get appmenu enabled there. I guess Ubuntu ships patched gtk packages by default for Unity.

share|improve this answer

I would recommend:

  • Awesome-wm
  • Conky

See Conky HUD to see how you can "use awesome to turn Conky into a heads-up display (HUD) of sorts". (Although I'm not sure that this answers the original question.)

Also have a look here:

share|improve this answer
Some instructions on how to duplicate the HUD's functionality would certainly be helpful. Also, the link only appears to include utilities for searching files instead of menus. – Christopher Kyle Horton Oct 26 '12 at 20:27
Is it possible to get the list of commands from conky using a command-line interface? – Anderson Green Nov 13 '12 at 17:40

The following two applications are nominally part of Xfce, but can readily be used in the DE of your choice.

The panel plug-in solution below, however, is not desktop-independent and requires the use of xfce4-panel. But since you are using Xfce and are looking for similar functionality in the Gtk world, the following could help.

  • xfce4-whiskermenu: "Whisker Menu is an alternate application launcher for Xfce. [..] If you’re not sure exactly where a program is listed, instead of browsing through each category you can simply enter a search term. The search field is focused when opening the menu, so you can just start typing."

    Whisker Menu

In addition, check How can I have a dash-like search under Xfce? for a similar question with relevant answers.

share|improve this answer
The question is not about how to find and start applications but how to access the menu bar entries of a given application using the keyboard like in HUD. – student Feb 5 '14 at 14:49
Then please rephrase the original question to make it clear. As it is, it is not. Basically, what is HUD? – landroni Feb 5 '14 at 16:21
HUD – Heads UP Display – uses an intelligent search-based approach to finding and accessing menu items you need. It’s smart too; HUD is capable of remembering what items you use most often and prioritising them in the results. Here is a video showing this feature in the example of gimp. Here is an overview: Now we want something like this which is not tied to unity, which you can use in gnome or other window managers. – student Feb 5 '14 at 17:36
Until unity 2d was dropped this was possible even with HUD itself ( – student Feb 5 '14 at 17:39
Wouldn't this not be a bit impolite since it is not my own question? If not I will do it. – student Feb 5 '14 at 17:47

I prefer Synapse over Gnome-Do.

It seems that there is some discussion about bringing this feature to Synapse.

share|improve this answer
However there seems to be not much progress with this feature – student Feb 5 '14 at 17:40

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.