Gnome keyboard shortcuts is a weird mixture of <Super> and <Alt> bindings. E.g.,

Switch applications               Super+Tab
Switch system controls            Ctrl+Alt+Tab
Switch system controls directly   Ctrl+Alt+Esc


How do I convert all shortcuts to a single prefix key?

My solution to 2

Replace <Alt> with <Super> in all keybindings using dconf:

for key in $(dconf list ${wmkb}); do
    dconf write ${wmkb}${key} $(dconf read ${wmkb}${key}|sed 's/<Alt>/<Super>/g')
  • 3
    I don't see an issue, it's not like Alt+Tab is being wasted. Alt+Tab also has a specific action attached to it (switch windows). Recursively changing all Super to Alt by a script doesn't sound like a good idea to me, some conflicts and/or overwrites are bound to happen. Changing specific combo one at time sounds like a better idea.
    – pomsky
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 19:44
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this as primarily opinion based because of the emphasis on the "shortcuts mess". I don't mind the way the keys currently are, myself, but at some point in the future that may change. I would certainly retract that vote, for a Q&A about "How can I effect a mass-change of the gnome shortcut keys" Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 23:27
  • "helpful" I am so glad, it got closed. /s
    – xaedes
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 12:20

1 Answer 1


The way I see it, was that the keyboard shortcuts were designed in such a way to adapt to the user's casual workload. While many applications make use of Alt, Ctrl, and Shift in various combinations, not many use the Super (Windows) keys.

Windows uses many similar conventions, however: Windows+Tab is a window switcher, Ctrl+Shift+Esc opens the Task Manager, and supposedly, Ctrl+Alt+Esc toggles a window's "Always on Top" property (see also Table of Keyboard Shortcuts on Wikipedia). While different from GNOME's shortcuts, Windows uses the same keys in a more understandable manner, so that Windows users don't have to learn new key combinations during the transition to Linux.

For example, everyone knows what Ctrl+Alt+Delete is, but not everybody uses it the same way; it logs you out in Linux, for instance, as opposed to the security panel in Windows NT kernels.

However, if you want to basically make it so they all use one or the other (Super or Alt), then the method you use is one effective way to change that. dconf also has a GUI method that works just as well.

Just as clarification, though: It is not a mess. Each shortcut was likely meticulously chosen to represent one specific action over another. Using a specific prefix key for many actions is like choosing which keys to change with the fn key on laptops and specific keyboards, and functions like the Mode Switch (AltGr) and other modifier keys (see also What is the Mode_switch modifier for? on Unix & Linux).

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