The Windows key seems to not have any use in Ubuntu, but since I'm just coming from Windows I'm used to this key having some function.
How can I make good use of the Windows key in Ubuntu?

I've seen that I can remap keys in System>Preferences>Keyboard>Layout>Options>Alt/Super key behavior, but I have no idea what the choices meta, super, hyper mean. The help button in this dialog doesn't give any specifics about them.

I've experimented a little and found that meta seems to have some use, like Super+M = Me menu, or Super+S is the shutdown menu, but for some keys (B, I) it's more like Ctrl (bold, italic). Haven't found any further.

What would a useful setting be for a Linux newbie?


5 Answers 5


If you want to use it like in windows, to trigger the menu, go to System -> Preferences -> Keyboard Shortcuts. Scroll down to and click on 'Show the panel's main menu'. Click on the right hand cell, which should change to 'New shortcut...' and press the Windows key.

EDIT: turns out this doesn't work but you can make it work by pressing Alt+F2 then entering

gconftool-2 --set /apps/metacity/global_keybindings/panel_main_menu --type string "Super_L"

You can bind it to other things as well. You can use it as part of a key combination in for another shortcut or for an action in compiz. For example, I have my Windows key bound to the Initiate Window Resize action (because this is easier than trying to grab the sides of the window) which can be found in Compiz Config Settings Manager under Window Management -> Resize Window.

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Windows key tab is useful for compiz fusion toggling of windows. It's also a great key to assign to your own custom shortcuts due to it's general lack of use in the linux world.

  • Wait, toggling of windows is Alt+Tab, and toggling of tabs is Ctrl+Tab. What kind of toggling do you mean? Dec 31, 2010 at 18:44
  • with compiz-fusion there are different options for window switching...ring or whatever. in my specific case i use it for ring window switching. you could use it for whatever Dec 31, 2010 at 19:01

I found a very simple way to add some useful key combinations in this question:

  1. Go to SystemPreferencesKeyboard Shortcuts.

  2. Scroll through the list to find any action you want to assign to a keyboard shortcut.
    Example: Home Folder

  3. Click in the right-hand column and then enter your desired key combo.

    Example: Super + E

  4. Test your new combo.

  5. Done!

Note: I've realized after writing this answer that dv3500ea wrote a similar answer which he claims doesn't work and added a part about compiz that I don't quite "get". But the simple approach works for me. I've upvoted his answer.

  • What should I pressed for Super+K? As I am not seeing any "Super" word on my keyboard keys. Please suggest! May 31, 2013 at 11:47
  • @RubyLovely: Linux people don't want to call it the Windows key but that's what it is. Note that some keyboards don't have that key, especially on laptops. Historically, there was another kind of keyboard that did have a "Super key". May 31, 2013 at 12:53

I am using it as a keyboard layout switcher (to type in different language)


Not sure if this applies to people other than kubuntu, but I was having a hard time assigning just the press of the windows key.

Turned out that ctrl+f1 was mapped to the windows key, so having my activity panel ( i wanted the full screen launcher, not the regular launcher ) mapped to ctrl+f1 made the solo press of the windows key work.

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