Dual monitor setup on Ubuntu 18.04; when I hit activities only the left monitor switches workspaces while the right monitor just keeps whatever is on its screen. Is there a way to make the workspace span both monitors so that when I switch from one workspace to another both monitors switch?


6 Answers 6


Had the same problem. Turned out it was super easy to fix.

Install the GNOME Tweaks app. Go to Workspaces and set Display handling to Workspaces span displays. Done!

  • 4
    see also askubuntu.com/a/1125322/16985 for additional fixes, e.g. Activities still showing windows from all workspaces on secondary display Mar 13, 2019 at 14:04
  • 3
    I had a different problem that this solution fixed. When switching from a single laptop display to a single external display, all the windows were merged into the top workspace, emptying the other workspace. Makes the worksspaces concept useless. Thanks. Jun 26, 2019 at 12:22
  • This fixes workspaces but the "window key" dash on additional monitors shows all apps across all workspaces for Ubuntu 18. In Fedora 31, this works.
    – wilsotc
    Dec 29, 2019 at 15:01
  • 1
    I searched for the reverse to keep a zoom session on 2nd monitor while switching workspaces in sharing my screen. Indeed gnome-tweaks: switch "workspaces span displays" to "workspaces on primary display only". Thanks!
    – Rob Rutten
    Mar 1, 2021 at 10:56
  • 1
    PSA: "Workspaces" is not available anymore in the Tweaks app in Ubuntu 22.04, but the solution below using gsettings still works.
    – jpb
    Aug 23 at 12:22

You can change this behaviour by executing:

gsettings set org.gnome.mutter workspaces-only-on-primary false
  • 8
    This works on Ubuntu 18.04 Nov 20, 2018 at 14:13
  • 1
    This worked on my Budgie desktop as well.
    – Scotty C.
    Mar 26, 2019 at 18:29
  • 1
    This is the only thing that worked for me on 19.10 Mar 8, 2020 at 11:40
  • 8
    This work on ubuntu 20.04
    – NekoOs
    May 19, 2020 at 22:39
  • 1
    This works on Ubuntu 22.04.
    – Tahlor
    Jun 9 at 16:31

You can install gnome-tweak-tool via sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool.

Then go to Workspaces > Display Handling > And choose Workspaces span displays


Install dconf-editor:

sudo apt install dconf-editor

Disable the following settings:

dconf write /org/gnome/mutter/workspaces-only-on-primary false
dconf write /org/gnome/shell/overrides/workspaces-only-on-primary false
  • @leoschet I suggest you reset dconf settings first. (dconf reset -f /) Dec 18, 2018 at 7:43
  • 2
    I don't think you need to install dconf-editor (it's for the GUI application) first in order to run the dconf write ... commands. Also it's preferable to use gsettings instead of the dconf commands (see here).
    – pomsky
    Nov 12, 2019 at 10:55

I recommend to you to use the Multi Monitos Add-on extension, available in GNOME Extensions. It is pretty easy to use, and it also gives you the ability to add a panel in the second monitor.

To get up and running all the GNOME extensions config directly in your browser, you only need the following:

  1. Install the gnome-shell-extensions package:

    sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions
  2. Install the host connector:

    sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell
  3. Install the GNOME Shell integration extension (Chrome) or add-on (Firefox).

  4. Find and install the Multi Monitos Add-on extension.

  • I'm slightly disappointed to find that this still doesnt allow for independent desktop state on each monitor.
    – Steven Lu
    Oct 30, 2020 at 18:51
  • @StevenLu I changed to MacOS only for that feature ¯_(ツ)_/¯
    – Rodrirokr
    Oct 30, 2020 at 20:23
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    at least multi desktop is usable in ubuntu but it's clearly lacking a few touches
    – Steven Lu
    Oct 30, 2020 at 20:39

In Ubuntu 22.04:

Settings > Multitasking > Multi-Monitor > Workspaces on all displays

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