I was previously using Ubuntu 14.04 and accelerators (keyboard shortcuts for activating menu items) worked just fine. For example, in gnome-terminal, I could hit Alt-E to open the Edit menu, then P to select/execute the Paste menu item.

Since upgrading to 16.04 (did a fresh install, to be precise), this only works in some apps, like LibreOffice, but no longer works in GNOME Terminal.

According to https://help.ubuntu.com/stable/ubuntu-help/keyboard-nav.html, this should still be possible:

Hold down the Alt key to reveal accelerators: underlined letters on menu items, buttons, and other controls. Press Alt plus the underlined letter to activate a control, just as if you had clicked on it.

but this is the behavior I observe instead:

I can hold to get the menu to appear, but:

  1. No letters are underlined to indicate accelerators
  2. Pressing the accelerator key that I know exists doesn't open the menu

Instead, when I press Alt-E, it simply prints ^[e in the terminal.

This is highly annoying since I used to use those keyboard shortcuts as the main way to access the menus.

  • BTW, pressing Ctrl+Shift+V is the easier way to paste into Gnome Terminal. You can also edit the keyboard shortcuts to make it just Ctrl+V.
    – wjandrea
    Sep 7, 2016 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


I just stumbled upon the answer...

Apparently Gnome Terminal is different from "normal" apps and has accelerators turned off by default? (Why is this?)

Anyway, the solution was to go to Edit menu -> Preferences -> General and enable the "Enable mnemonics" checkbox.

enter image description here

Also curious, why are they called mnemonics in this case but accelerators" in the official help documentation? Perhaps a consistent naming should be adopted to make it less confusing? I'd vote for "mnemonics" now that I'm aware of that term (I'd never heard of it before today); "accelerators" has too many other meanings.

  • A terminal emulator is "special" (different from "normal" apps) because it's running other apps inside, and for most people delivering these keypresses (e.g. Alt+E) to the application running inside (e.g. emacs, vim, ...) is more important than the menus of gnome-terminal itself. This is also the reason for having Shift+Ctrl as the typical modifier rather than just Ctrl.
    – egmont
    Sep 7, 2016 at 20:35

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