Now that Unity is gone, the usual way of setting a Compose Key (via Keyboard Preferences > Layout) no longer works (because in Ubuntu 18.04, Devices > Keyboard has no Layout tab).

How do we set a Compose Key in Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver?


You may use (GNOME) Tweaks to set the option.

First install Tweaks by running

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

(or sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool).

Alternatively, for those who prefer the GUI:

  1. launch the Ubuntu Software application.

  2. search for "gnome tweaks".

  3. install.

Then launch Tweaks and go to "Keyboard & Mouse" section. The "Compose Key" options is disabled by default. Click on the "Disabled" button.

enter image description here

Then a window will pop up. Toggle the switch at the top on and then you'll be select the compose key

enter image description here

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  • 2
    I don't have Scroll Lock, so I tried PrtScn, RightAlt, and none of them worked, what I'm missing? – Michael Sep 3 '18 at 11:02
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    Same here, I set it to Right Alt and it doesn't work. – zwolin Sep 26 '18 at 15:04
  • @zwolin Did you check out the question posted by Michael? – pomsky Sep 26 '18 at 15:11
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    @pomsky thank you, now I did. But it didn't help my case. I solved it just now by setting in GNOME Tweaks: Keyboard & Mouse -> Additional Layout Options ->Key to choose the 3rd level -> Right Alt. And now my Polish diacritic characters work as expected – zwolin Sep 26 '18 at 15:46
  • Maybe I should ask this as a separate question but is it possible to somehow set multiple compose keys (left and right alt)? It does not seem possible using the Tweaks menu. – Kvothe Nov 5 '18 at 14:36

To expand upon what @pomsky detailed in their answer, the official documentation covers the two solutions available.

One is through installing Gnome Tweak Tool via the terminal like so: sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

And the other is typing the Unicode character's code point. To do this, press Ctrl+Shift+U, release all keys (you'll see an underlined u), type the code point desired, and then press Space or Enter to complete.

For example, a common one I use is referred to as “Smart Quotes” which are U+201C & U+201D respectively. So you would type 201C or 201D after releasing the initial keys, and complete the process with Space or Enter.

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The dconf setting that worked for my GNOME 3.28.2 is


To set the Scroll Lock as the compose key, the value should be


See the gnome-tweaks source code for other potential values.

That means you can run a command like this:

dconf write /org/gnome/desktop/input-sources/xkb-options "['compose:sclk']"
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  • In case you would like to define multiple compose keys, simply extend the array: ['compose:prsc', 'compose:rwin']. Another way to show the list of possible keys: grep "compose:" /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/base.lst – ph0t0nix Jul 9 '19 at 9:27
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    Eg dconf write /org/gnome/desktop/input-sources/xkb-options "['compose:sclk']" – Craig McQueen Aug 30 '19 at 3:54

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