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I disabled the applet for desktop workspaces in my Xfce panel (well I actually removed the panel all together), but now Xfce seems to think my 4 workspaces are side-by-side and not splayed out, so the shortcut Ctrl-Alt-'up arrow' and Ctrl-Alt-'down arrow' don't work but the left and right arrow ones do.

Any idea how to fix this without re-enabling the panel?

I prefer using the cairo-dock as a panel substitute for those who demand a reason.

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Are you sure ? That's shortcut from xfwm4 not anything to do with panel. So first check in xfce4 settings dialog, see if you really have more than 1 workspace – warl0ck Jul 25 '12 at 0:14
oh I definately have more than one, it just arranges them in a 1x4 fashion, while when I use xfce panel and the shortcut(it reverts to the 1x4 when the shortcut isnt on the panel) it arranges it in 2x2 style like a prefer. I cant figure out why taht is though considering its still using the same windows manager settings. – Vladashram Jul 25 '12 at 3:31
It should remember your choice even after removing the panel. Try adding it again, configuring it and when done remove it again. – zakkak Jun 24 '13 at 9:42

Quick answer: Rightclick on the workspace switcher in the xfce panel and select "Properties" then adjust "Rows" to "2" for your 2x2 grid.

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Did you read my question? I said without the xfce panel(I don't have it running). – Vladashram Jul 25 '12 at 21:30

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