ctrl-alt-t opens a new window instead of a new tab while the shell is the active window. I see in the terminal shortcut settings --which are enabled-- (in terminal window: edit > preferences > shortcuts) that ctrl-alt-t is meant to open a new tab.

Prior to this issue I followed the instructions here to try to customize the shortcut, and I then followed the "rollback" directions in that post to undo it since it wasn't working. Maybe that's what messed things up for me?

Steps to create this issue:
1. open a gnome-shell terminal window
2. mouse click on the terminal to ensure it is active
3. ctrl-alt-t

Expected result: new terminal tab opens in existing window.
Observed result: new and separate terminal window opens.

gnome-shell --version is "GNOME Shell 3.28.3"

Edit: Here is a screenshot of the terminal shortcut page. I must have somehow changed the default ctrl-shift-tab to ctrl-alt-tab?

enter image description here

  • The answer you link is though probably the right one. Would you please try again to activate shortcuts in Gnome terminal, then close and re-open it to be sure that modifications are applied, and then add a screenshot of the shortcuts in your post?
    – FloT
    Mar 2, 2019 at 1:23
  • The default key to open a new tab is Ctrl+Shift+t (not Alt). With respect to Ctrl+Alt+Tab, this by default is a system wide hotkey to launch the terminal. Is your question really about the latter (I am confused since you say "ctrl-alt-t is meant to open a new tab.": no, its ctrl+shift+t).
    – vanadium
    Mar 2, 2019 at 8:46

3 Answers 3


Dont mess with Ctrl and Shift

Open new terminal window: CtrlAltt
Open new tab in an active terminal window: CtrlShiftt

  • happened to me, reading is hard... thank you! Apr 7, 2020 at 10:21

Silly mistake... turns out ctrl-alt-t was set as both the new terminal tab shortcut (in terminal preferences) and also the new terminal window shortcut (in keyboard preferences). I simply edited the terminal shortcut back to ctrl-shift-t.

Thanks all for the insights and sending me in the right direction!


The default hotkey in gnome-terminal to open a new tab is Ctrl+Shift+Tab. Probably, you did not properly reset that key to the default when reverting the change you made according to the question you linked to.

The behaviour where you see Ctrl+Alt+Tab opening a new terminal window, is perfectly normmal in a default Ubuntu install. That key combination is system wide defined to open a new terminal (see Settings - Keyboard).

To restore the default behaviour, change the assignment of the hotkey to open a new tab back to Shift+Ctrl+Tab in Nautilus preferences. Then you will have fully undone the changes you applied.

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