Is there a way to invoke the Activities view of GNOME from the Linux command line? This is what the Super key invokes from GNOME. Once it is shown, I can interact with it as usual using the mouse.

I'm using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

The reason I'm asking: I'm viewing the desktop that I need to "send" the Super key into via a TeamViewer session. TeamViewer has a way to send CTRL-ALT-DELETE, but that of course is for Windows remotes, but this is pure Ubuntu-to-Ubuntu here. Even if TeamViewer was not involved, and I was using VNC, I would have the same problem.


A command that causes the shell to switch to the overview is:

dbus-send --session --type=method_call --dest=org.gnome.Shell /org/gnome/Shell org.gnome.Shell.Eval string:'Main.overview.show();'

Use Main.overview.hide(); to close the overview, or Main.overview.toggle(); to toggle between overview and normal view (with thanks to gatr and Marcelo Avila).

  • reverse action would be dbus-send --session --type=method_call --dest=org.gnome.Shell /org/gnome/Shell org.gnome.Shell.Eval string:'Main.overview.hide();' – gtatr Mar 28 '19 at 14:13
  • toggle works as well, with: dbus-send --session --type=method_call --dest=org.gnome.Shell /org/gnome/Shell org.gnome.Shell.Eval string:'Main.overview.toggle();' – Marcelo Avila Nov 20 '19 at 0:59
  • How about show applications ? – Fadly Dzil Dec 21 '19 at 9:06
  • @FadlyDzil, this question is about the activities overview. – vanadium Dec 21 '19 at 9:08

There might be a proper command line way to interact with various GNOME Shell components (using DBus, I suppose), but a quick and dirty way is to simulate the keypress:

xdotool key super
  • 1
    This one worked. The subsequent answer by vanadium has to be the correct answer because xdotool is not installed by default, and I suspect that dbus-send is installed by default. So I am forced into giving vanadium "the" answer mark. Thanks for your quick response though. – bgoodr Nov 25 '18 at 18:13
  • That is also the "fundamental" solution, i.e. directly communicating with the proces through the command line. The xdotool trick would work well, but is a hack - simulating keystrokes. May, moreover, not work for users that use Wayland as their displayserver. – vanadium Nov 26 '18 at 9:20
  • @vanadium that's why I called it the "proper" way, but like a lot of GNOME stuff, the proper way is rather obscure. – muru Nov 26 '18 at 10:06
  • Underrated comment. It worked and it is also easier. – allexj Sep 7 '20 at 11:16

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