In Ubuntu 18.04.1, I would like to use my left Super-key only to simply open the Show Applications menu (aka Dash) like a left click on the dock-icon (with the 9 dots) does and preferably close it again without showing me any open programs.

I can open it with Super + A and even close it again with Super R, but Super L appears to do nothing at all.

In Xfce, something similar was possible by adding a custom keyboard shortcut for Super L and setting the command to xfce4-popup-whiskermenu, which would open and close a menu with favourite applications. Unfortunately, I don't know the command that opens and closes the Show Applications menu.

Is there any way to add such a shortcut in the new Gnome Shell?

  • 1
    Default shortcut for "Show Applications" is <Super>+<A> btw. – pomsky Sep 2 '18 at 14:38
  • I just verified this and you are right. I was sure to have tried all shortcuts in the table, but I must have missed this for some reason. – Prototype700 Sep 2 '18 at 16:35
  • xubuntu allows changing this natively but of course you are no longer using unity – William Sep 29 '18 at 22:43

Solution 1: Gnome extensions

Install the extension Start Overlay in Application View to use the Super key alone to open the Application overview.

In addition, install the extension ESC to close overview from applications list to have Esc return you to your desktop rather than to the overview.

In Ubuntu 20.04, use a forked extension: ESC to close overview from applications list | UPDATED by paperthin or ESCape Overview.

Solution 2: ksuperkey (more universal approach that allows you to do whatever you want with super)

With a utility ksuperkey, you can remap a press/release of the super key alone to any key combination. ksuperkey is not available in the standard Ubuntu repositories. Thus, you need to compile it yourself according to the instructions on the ksuperkey Github site.

In this case, you would lauch ksuperkey with the command `ksuperkey -e 'Super_L=Super_L:a'. This will remap hitting super alone to the key combination needed to launch the applications menu.

  • The binding of super to show the overview in Gnome Shell needs to be disabled first. Use the command gsettings set org.gnome.mutter overlay-key '', or alternatively, use dconf-editor to change the value of that key.
  • You can autostart ksuperkey using a .desktop file that you place in your ~/.config/autostart folder.

The contents of this ksuperkey.desktop file may look as:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Map super key
Exec=sh -c "sleep 0.4 ; ksuperkey -e 'Super_L=Super_L:a'" 

Optionally, install the extension ESC to close overview from applications list ( ESC to close overview from applications list | UPDATED on Ubuntu 20.04) to have Esc return you to your desktop rather than to the overview.

  • Hi vanadium, thank you for the hint. I will take this into consideration, but I don't like the fact that I have to download a utility just for this completely simple change of shortcuts and that "The normal operation of super in Gnome Shell needs to be disabled first." – Prototype700 Sep 29 '18 at 20:49
  • Like it or not, that's the only way I know. "Disabling" the normal operation means nothing here. With a single command, you can reset this to default. You also can use dconf-editor. Used this approach myself to launch Albert with <super>. – vanadium Oct 1 '18 at 8:33
  • 1
    Found the extension that does the trick. I edited my solution to include that approach, but I left ksuperkey in, because it might be useful for other Gnome Shell tweakers. Thank you for the bounty ;) – vanadium Oct 1 '18 at 16:05
  • Well, there you are. I'd still be interested in the dconf solution you were mentionining, if you're considering to expand your answer even more. The extensions work fine, though. How were you able to find them? They don't share a single keyword, but I might also have searched badly and had no time to look any further so far. – Prototype700 Oct 5 '18 at 12:51
  • I am using the second extension. I saw the first extension long time ago, but actually forgot about it. Very much by hazard, I bumped on to it again, and indeed realized my first answer (retained as second option here) was too complex ;) The only thing happening with dconf is that the keybinding of <super> in Gnome Shell is turned off, so that the utility ksuperkey can take over without interference. Works seamlessly, and you can bind anything you want to <super>, Gnome Application view or a launcher of your own or anything else. – vanadium Oct 5 '18 at 14:13

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