When I try to edit the synapse config it does not allow me to use the left Super as a shortcut to invoke it. Is there a round-about way that I can go through.

Synapse Configuration

When I just press the Windows/Super key the configuration window does not acknowledge it. However, a combination shortcut (such as Super+A) does work fine.

Since I'm using Precise, with Unity, I'd also need a way to change the default dash behaviour for Windows/Super key to something else.

  • I'd also like to do that, I'm using Xubuntu, so there is no keyboard conflict with anything, still Synapse doesn't allow me to do that...
    – Borsook
    Sep 28, 2012 at 9:39
  • @Borsook Try editing the ~/.config/hotkeys/synapse/synapse.hotkeys file. It doesn't work in Ubuntu due to Unity for me, might work for you.
    – Nemo
    Oct 31, 2012 at 12:28
  • @Borsook You can set an XFCE shortcut in the "Application Shortcuts" tab in the Keyboard settings app. Just set it to execute "/usr/bin/synapse". Nov 20, 2012 at 4:37
  • I don't think you can create a shortcut of just 'super'
    – Seth
    Nov 23, 2012 at 3:36

6 Answers 6


I know this is a little old now but thought solution by be useful anyway.

First remove any super key bindings e.g. <super>+p is a common one for screen settings

Then close Synapse

In ~/.config/hotkeys/synapse.hotkeys





Relaunch Synapse

  • 1
    New install of synapse on 12.10 from PPA (ver 0.2.10-2ubuntu1); there's nothing in config.json related to "activate", however the first step seems to do the trick. Nov 18, 2013 at 4:51
  • This answer is outdated
    – cipricus
    Apr 1, 2019 at 19:32

In later versions of synapse installed from the launchpad ppa the setting is in .config/synapse/config.json. Edit it while synapse is closed to specify Super_L as activation key.

  "ui" : {
    "shortcuts" : {
      "activate" : "Super_L",

Note: In some environments the key should be specified as "Super".

See https://launchpad.net/~synapse-core/+archive/ubuntu/testing.

  • this should work although Super_L is not proper "shortcut encoding" is should be more in line of <Alt>space
    – b1r3k
    Mar 10, 2016 at 12:52
  • 2
    This worked on synapse 0.2.99 running on lubuntu 18.04
    – franksands
    Jun 22, 2018 at 19:25
  • This is the good answer!
    – cipricus
    Apr 1, 2019 at 19:31

See better answer below this one.

You must bind the action to the Super's scancode or keycode; normal hotkeys record the state of the modifier keys and throw away their keypress events; so you never see something that reacts to just pressing Alt, but instead to the A key plus the Alt key's recorded state.

The hotkey library in use is libgtkhotkey (0.2 on 12.04) and it doesn't support using the key press event from modifier's. You'd have to write your own patch to catch that and perhaps support such a thing in the signature format.

All tests with the existing signature format failed to produce anything but an error.

  • 3
    This answer is wrong. The correct answer is the one below by jnas.
    – codenoob
    Jul 2, 2016 at 14:29

A temporary workaround is to remove the modifier from super and remap the key to a "normal key" you do not use. I choose "µ", which is named "mu".

xmodmap -e 'keysym Super_L = mu mu mu'

xmodmap -e 'clear Mod4'

The first command will pretty much make super useless for anything else than typing "µ" and the second command will clear all Mod4 modifiers (I do not use them anyway). Use xev to find the name of a key, look for a line similar to:

state 0x80, keycode 58 (keysym 0xb5, mu), same_screen YES,

The changes will be lost after logging out. To make them permanent, add the commands to your .bashrc OR create a file named .Xmodmap in your home directory with the content:

keysym Super_L = mu mu mu

clear Mod4

If you mess up while playing around with xmodmap, just log out and log back in again to restore your old settings.

I've only tested with this one key, and I can still type µ by pressing Alt Gr + M without having Synapse pop up. I also tried remapping Super to Page Up; Synapse was able to detect the key while entering it in the settings, but failed to open the launcher when pressing it.


Apparently ~/.config/synapse/ doesn't exist anymore.

I just installed synapse on XUBUNTU 12.04.02 and changing the Signature entry in


was enough to have synapse pop up with a single hit on the Super-key.


You can assign it the super key shortcut via Settings Manager->Keyboard->Application Shortcuts tab

add synapse then set its shortcut as super key.

Wish you good luck!

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