How do I open the application launcher ("start menu") of Kubuntu with my Windows key? Similar to how the Start menu in Windows is opened. I don't want to use Alt+F1.

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11 Answers 11


About modifier keys

Modifier keys like Ctrl, Alt and also the Meta (also called "Super" or "Windows" key, are meant to operate only as modifier keys. This design works its way down to the roots of all the libraries under the GUI you see using KDE: Qt, Xorg, etc.

Your exact question is here on the KDE Forums by the way: Super key to load Application Menu.


It seems however, that there's a large audience for this feature. So, in case you really want this to work, you could try the ksuperkey package, which contains all you need:

ksuperkey allows you to open the application launcher in KDE Plasma < 5.8 using the Super key (also known as the "Windows key"). If you hold down the Super key it will still act as a modifier key, allowing you to use it for other keyboard shortcuts.

ksuperkey is a small application that runs in the background as a daemon. It was forked from xcape by Albin Olsson: https://github.com/alols/xcape

ksuperkey can be installed from this PPA.

Note that KDE Plasma 5.8 and above will support this feature by default.

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  • 1
    Thank you very much! Wow it was soo easy with Ubuntu. I appreciate it! – sushi2141 Jan 25 '13 at 0:47
  • Is there a way to assign this to a hot corner, like in gnome-shell? – user267814 Apr 11 '14 at 11:56
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    @dan, you've edited my answer with the statement that it is now built-in in 5.8+, but how do we use it? – gertvdijk Mar 20 '17 at 10:43
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    Nothing works on KDE Neon. By nothing, i mean that assigning your own shortcut never ever does anything. It's plain broken. Note that there's no shortcut by default because you will certainly have replaced the default weird menu with the alternate sane one. – Johan Boulé Feb 11 '18 at 1:06
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    this is outdated. later plasma versions come with Meta key as default and let you restore it if lost by selecting Meta-F1 as indicated in the other answer – user47206 Jan 16 '19 at 9:24

You can map it to META + F1 and it should work with just META. It did for me, I'm on plasma 5.10.5.


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    KDE Plasma 5.8.7, somehow crashed kde and the windows key didn't work anymore, but this fixed it. – Karl Oct 14 '17 at 2:16
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    On plasma 5.13.5 works as expected, should be selected answer. – Mark Carpenter Jr Apr 4 '19 at 12:55
  • Worked! for me worked after logout and login (ubuntu 18.04). – Hadi Rasouli Jan 23 at 17:00
  • worked for me. it just now open with meta key – Pouya Samie Feb 5 at 17:33
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    Does not work on Plasma 5.16.5. – andrybak May 2 at 14:21

It doesn't do exactly what you are asking for, but ALT-Space opens a search box with which you can launch basically the stuff you could select from the Application Launcher.

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    Was exactly what I was looking for and I didnt even know. – Vasspilka Oct 23 '15 at 13:18
  • Such an underutilized feature IMO, from someone who's default action, is to strike the meta whenever launching an application. – Mark Carpenter Jr Apr 4 '19 at 13:01
  • that's still 2 keys, for a super-common feature. – Berry Tsakala Sep 27 at 9:43

simple workaround without loosing meta: meta + z (u.s. layout)

can be hit with just one finger at one

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  • Simple and effective!!! – diosney Nov 5 '15 at 22:12
  • I like this workaround since with ksuperkey there is a lag when closing the menu by tapping Super twice. – diosney Nov 5 '15 at 22:12
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    As of KDE Plasma 5.5.5, this doesn't work. Worse, if you press Meta+z in the terminal, you'll get some odd string. – Dan Dascalescu Aug 17 '16 at 23:30

I'm on Plasma 5.8.5 and I can enable this feature by going to System Settings -> Input Devices -> Keyboard -> Advanced -> The third checkbox should be "Alt/Win key behavior" -> Choose "Meta is mapped to Win keys" -> Apply

You are all set :)

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    On my system (Kubuntu 18.04 LTS) there're two alternatives: Meta is mapped to Left Win and Meta is mapped to Win. I tried both, but neither of them worked. – code_dredd Sep 18 '18 at 16:56
  • No effect for me... same result as code_dredd – Vince Sep 14 at 7:59

While the accepted answer may have worked a few years ago, ksuperkey does not seem to work on Kubuntu 15.10, when installed from PPA. I have no doubt ksuperkey is a better solution, but I ended up following the link in gertvdjik's answer and using this solution, which works absolutely fine. Posting here for future googlers who had the same trouble as I did.

For brevity;

NOTICE: YOU WILL LOSE THE META KEY - so you might want to map it somewhere else.

Run xev | grep keycode press the meta key and watch the output (the code is likely 115)

then add an entry to your Xmodmap configuration:

cat "keycode 115 = F13" > ~/.Xmodmap

"xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap" will change the keysym to F13 (not present on most keyboards ;-) and you can use it like any regular key.

If your distro does (probably) not invoke ~/.Xmodmap by default, add a short script to ~/.kde/share/autostart/xmodmap.sh

#!/bin/sh xmodmap $HOME/.Xmodmap

and make it executable chmod +x ~/.kde/share/autostart/xmodmap.sh

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  • I receive this error : cat: keycode 115 = F13: No such file or directory – Woeitg Feb 4 '16 at 12:25
  • @Woeistg You might try replacing that line with echo "keycode 115 = F13" >> ~/.Xmodmap, the important thing is that the ~/.Xmodmap file contain that line. If that works for you i can edit the post. – Knetic Feb 4 '16 at 19:09
  • Note: ksuperkey works on Plasma 5.7, built from source (KDE Neon with Ubuntu 16.04 base) – sola Jul 17 '16 at 9:31

This soultion worked for me

sudo apt-get install git gcc make libx11-dev libxtst-dev pkg-config
git clone https://github.com/hanschen/ksuperkey.git
cd ksuperkey

then make it to start every-time your computer boots up.


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This simple solution don't use the Meta key but you can use only the Menu key for the shortcut.

The Menu key

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  • doesn't work on my laptop – user47206 Jan 16 '19 at 9:08
  • We have 2020 now, it should be possible to use the meta key. – shuhalo Sep 2 at 7:28
kwriteconfig5 --file ~/.config/kwinrc --group ModifierOnlyShortcuts --key Meta "org.kde.plasmashell,/PlasmaShell,org.kde.PlasmaShell,activateLauncherMenu"

works most of the time for me. It adds the setting to the kwin config file. This means it defines a new so called "ModifierOnlyShortcurt", which is just the Meta key to activate the launcher menu.

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I have also be confused about this question weeks ago.
Today I added a panel and a Tiled Menu on it. Then I use alt+F5 to activate it.
Beacuse alt+F1 F2 F3 F4 are alreadly occupied. Really, not alt+F1.
It happened just after reboot that the Super was back to life!
So I think that:

The one on Latte Dock won't work.
The one on a default panel will do.

It's interesting.
KDE Plasma Version:5.14.5
KDE Frameworks Version:5.54.0
Debian 10.3

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Running the "If you wish to revert..." commands from here fixed it for me in the latest Kubuntu after I 'broke' it switching to a custom doc.

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