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Gnome-shell seems to like to leave one monitor as "fixed" when you switch workspaces.

Additionally, there is no preview in the Activities view of my secondary monitor.

Also, on the second monitor, where there should be either empty desktop space, or a copy of the panel, I just have a white bar.

How can I get gnome-shell to treat my secondary monitor like the primary one?

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3 Answers 3

Regarding the fixed second monitor, there's an easy way to fix that as I have just found out. If I may quote:

  1. Download gconf-editor – this is probably available in your distribution’s package manager.
  2. Start gconf-editor – the “Run Command” menu is still available in GNOME 3 by pressing Alt-F2.
  3. In the tree on the left, navigate to /desktop/gnome/shell/windows
  4. UNCHECK the box next to workspaces_only_on_primary


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Thanks for that! That solves the problem in terms of switching workspace with the keyboard, but in the activities view the second monitor shows windows from the second monitor of all workspaces. Hopefully they work on multi monitor support in the future. – Alex Nov 5 '11 at 1:58

I could not find the /desktop/gnome/shell/windows key mentioned by Martin, but the source he's quoting says to run:

$ gsettings set workspaces-only-on-primary false

This fixed it instantly for me. Thanks, gregcor (the source).

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Alas, this didn't work for me in Ubuntu 14.04. (see my follow up question… ) – Rory Dec 10 '14 at 8:20


In later versions of Gnome, you have to open gnome-tweak-tool and, under "Workspaces", change the "Workspaces only on primary display" setting.

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I use 14.04 with gnome-shell from standard repositories and this does not work for me. The switch does not change anything. – Ted Barth Sep 9 at 12:39
Don't have enought reputation to comment fossfreedom answer and Ted Barth comment, so I add a new answer: on 14.04, this trick works, but you need to reboot to apply changes. – Georges Duyahourt Nov 19 at 10:44

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