When the Gnome desktop has focus, hitting F1 brings up "Ubuntu Desktop Guide". How do I disable this keyboard shortcut?

UPDATE: This problem seems to be gone in Ubuntu 12.04 (hitting F1 while the desktop has focus does nothing). I believe the question is specific to Ubuntu 10.04 which I no longer have installed, so I cannot verify the answers.

I will accept whatever answer is confirmed by the community (post a comment on the answer that works for you) and please mention what Ubuntu version you're using.

  • The problem is back in Ubuntu 18.04. The answers below no longer work. – brandones Nov 18 '18 at 19:10

For 12.10

You can disable the help browser by opening "System Settings" -> "Keyboard" and switching to the "Shortcuts" tab, then under "Launchers" turning "Launch Help Browser" to "Disabled".

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However some applications, for example the terminal, have their own help settings you will have to turn off as well. For the terminal, open the "Edit" menu and click on "Keyboard Shortcuts". Scroll to the bottom and change the key for "Contents" under "Help". To turn the shortcut off, select it and then hit backspace.

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    Please specify Ubuntu version numbers as this does not seem to exist in 12.04. – Gili Jan 19 '13 at 20:59
  • @Gili I did this in 12.10 though I think it should be there in 12.04 also. – Seth Jan 20 '13 at 4:18
  • It works for gnome-terminal in Ubuntu 13.10. Thanks. – Marcello Nuccio Dec 19 '13 at 7:31
  • This works for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS – RoraΖ Aug 26 '15 at 12:20
  • Using Backspace in this case is so intuitive... Thanks! – nuoritoveri Jun 22 '16 at 13:10


Install the DConf editor, go to org > gnome > desktop > wm > keybindings.

Assign the F1 key to some inoffensive function, like 'raise'.

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    Checked and works in 14.04. Is more like a workaround than a real solution, but at least now the annoying gnome help app don't appears every time I miss the Esc key when working with vim :P – sucotronic Jul 21 '14 at 11:10
  • Is this dconf - Simple tool for manipulating a dconf database? If not, what package name? – Tom Hale Sep 25 '16 at 7:06
  • No, it's a simple tool for storing desktop environment settings. Get it with sudo apt-get install dconf-editor – Pertinax Aug 19 '17 at 12:59

You can go into Settings->Keyboard->Shortcuts->Starter and press backspace on the coressponding item. Sth. like 'Launch help'

However other applications might still open their help on F1

  • There is no "Starter" entry under Ubuntu 12.04. – Gili Jan 17 '13 at 20:00
  • Anything similar to that maybe? It was a loose translation from German – JavaJens Jan 17 '13 at 23:07
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    The key point that @JavaJens makes here is that some applications hook the F1 key to the application's Help file. Disabling F1 at the OS level will not always disable it at the application level. – Ed Manet Jan 18 '13 at 20:49

Just to Disable F1 may not be functioning in gnome. The practice way to avoid F1 to bring up Help window is to assign it to some unused function or a common function, such as 'raise'.

In most Ubuntu releases, using Settings->Keyboard->Shortcuts to assign F1 to 'raise' should work, except Ubuntu 14.04. Under Ubuntu 14.04, use dconf-editor to reassign F1 to 'raise' described by The Thunder Chimp above.

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