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?


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!

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    see also askubuntu.com/a/1125322/16985 for additional fixes, e.g. Activities still showing windows from all workspaces on secondary display Mar 13 '19 at 14:04
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    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 '19 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 '19 at 15:01
  • Did this but it had no effect. Changing workspace has effect on primary monitor only
    – frepie
    Apr 24 '20 at 16:48
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    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 at 10:56

You can change this behaviour by executing:

gsettings set org.gnome.mutter workspaces-only-on-primary false
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    This works on Ubuntu 18.04 Nov 20 '18 at 14:13
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    This worked on my Budgie desktop as well.
    – Scotty C.
    Mar 26 '19 at 18:29
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    This is the only thing that worked for me on 19.10 Mar 8 '20 at 11:40
  • Just upgraded to 18.04, and use Unity. Solved the problem for me, thanks. Apr 10 '20 at 12:02
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    This work on ubuntu 20.04
    – NekoOs
    May 19 '20 at 22:39

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 '18 at 7:43
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    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 '19 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 '20 at 18:51
  • @StevenLu I changed to MacOS only for that feature ¯_(ツ)_/¯
    – Rodrirokr
    Oct 30 '20 at 20:23
  • 1
    at least multi desktop is usable in ubuntu but it's clearly lacking a few touches
    – Steven Lu
    Oct 30 '20 at 20:39

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