I just installed Ubuntu 20.04. I'm wondering why file associated shortcuts don't work in the GNOME Shell desktop.

For example: Ctrl+Shift+N, Del, Shift+Del, and F2 do nothing.

But for example Ctrl+Alt+T works.

What's wrong, is it bug or feature? How to enable it back?

  • 1
    I asked a similar question with additionnal problems, which was answered with a workaround that works great for me : askubuntu.com/questions/1231413/… Apr 27, 2020 at 10:43
  • That's opening the Nemo file manager app, which is not the GNOME Shell desktop.
    – K7AAY
    Apr 27, 2020 at 15:11

2 Answers 2


I associated this problem at first with the fact that I couldn't basically delete files, copy, cut or paste anything on the desktop. Here's the workaround that solved my problem once and for all:

  1. Remove gnome extension:

    sudo rm -r /usr/share/gnome-shell/extensions/desktop-icons@csoriano/
  2. Install nemo:

    sudo apt install nemo
  3. Press Ctrl+H in your home folder, enter the .config folder and create a folder in it labeled autostart

  4. Open gedit and copy the following text into the empty file:

    [Desktop Entry]
    Comment=Start Nemo desktop at log in
    AutostartCondition=GSettings org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons
  5. Save the text file as ~/.config/autostart/nemo-autostart-with-gnome.desktop

And that's that. Next time you log in, nemo will be the one ruling over your desktop, not nautilus anymore. That means you'll have access to all the old shortcuts that were supposed to be working properly on your desktop, plus you'll have new options available when you right-click with your mouse. Worth giving a try!

I've come to this answer using this post as a reference: https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/nautilus/-/issues/158#alternative-solution


The feature set of the desktop as currently designed includes these keystrokes listed below as per GNOME project documentation. Others require additional steps to be added.

System AKA Super AKA Windows Switch between overview and desktop

Alt+F1 Switch between overview and desktop
Alt+F2 Pop up command dialog
Alt+Tab Pop up application switcher
Alt+Shift+Tab Cycle in reverse direction in the application switcher
Alt+~ Switch between windows of the same application in Alt+Tab

Ctrl+Alt+Tab Pop up accessibility switcher

Ctrl+Shift+Alt+R Start and end screencast recording
Ctrl+Alt+Up/Down arrow Switch between workspaces
Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Up/Down arrow Move the current window to a different workspace
Super+Right/Left arrow resize & move window to take up right/left half of current workspace

Super+Shift+Right/Left arrow move window to right/left monitor

More combinations may be added. Go to Settings->Devices->Keyboard. You’ll see all the keyboard shortcuts here for your system. Scroll down to the bottom and you’ll see the Custom Shortcuts option, where you can add more.

Apps can add their own key combinations, For example, the Ctrl+Shift+N combination you mentioned is built into both GNOME Terminal and VScode.

Other desktops have other features and may have other keystroke combinations.

  • I was using only LTS Ubuntus. This worked in 16.04 (Unity), but also 18.04(some version of Gnome). I was able to create file on desktop and also delete it from there. I think this is crucial functionality since you are mostly working with desktop items.
    – Iwaneez
    Apr 24, 2020 at 11:02
  • Apps can add their own key combinations, For example, the Ctrl+Shift+N combination you mentioned is built into both GNOME Terminal and VScode.
    – K7AAY
    Apr 24, 2020 at 15:38
  • How to simply delete a file, or copy paste, within the desktop, with the answer you suggest @K7AAY ? Apr 27, 2020 at 7:48
  • @Raphaël Titol File deletion requires opening the File Manager, as that can't be done in the GNOME Shell desktop without the File Manager. Likewise, copy-paste is not a GNOME Shell function, and requires opening an app.
    – K7AAY
    Apr 27, 2020 at 15:10

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