I'm running kubuntu-desktop on Lubuntu 17.04. I'd like to use the Super key in applications but it currently activates desktop application menu.

I looked in

System Settings -> Workspaces -> Shortcuts -> Global Shortcuts -> Plasma.

But it only shows the Alt+F1 binding. The Alternate field is empty.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Try the solution mentioned here: unix.stackexchange.com/a/369452/28893
    – Seth
    Nov 1, 2017 at 23:22
  • If you remove the [Alt][F1] binding, then the Super key will not open the Launcher. Nov 2, 2017 at 10:39
  • 1
    Note that Kubuntu 16.04 and older releases do not have this behaviour by default (Super/Meta key does nothing by itself when pressed).
    – user37165
    Nov 7, 2017 at 8:41
  • 1
    Would like to point to another answer on askubuntu : askubuntu.com/questions/521202/…
    – Gautam
    Mar 7, 2018 at 5:53

1 Answer 1


Fun w. xmodmap

When you press keys on the keyboard, there are a few places that define what happens. The keyboard itself, the kernel, X or other display manager. For your goal, we can teach X to treat the Super key differently.

The Super key is typically mapped to Mod4. So, when you press Mod4+Tab, you may expect to be able to tab through different windows. Not always, but many times applications ignore this modifier, or do not receive it.

An option you have is to adjust how the Super key is treated. If you do this, you'll most likely want to swap out the functionality with a different key. This is to ensure you can continue to do things such as the previous example of Mod4+Tab, or other common combinations.

If you want to see how X is working with your current modifiers, you can print those using xmodmap:

$ xmodmap
xmodmap:  up to 4 keys per modifier, (keycodes in parentheses):

shift       Shift_L (0x32),  Shift_R (0x3e)
lock        Caps_Lock (0x42)
control     Control_L (0x25),  Control_R (0x69)
mod1        Alt_L (0x40),  Alt_R (0x6c),  Meta_L (0xcd)
mod2        Num_Lock (0x4d)
mod4        Super_L (0x85),  Super_R (0x86),  Super_L (0xce),  Hyper_L (0xcf)
mod5        ISO_Level3_Shift (0x5c),  Mode_switch (0xcb)

Here, we can see that all of the Super keys, and Hyper keys are mapped to Mod4. If your keyboard has a Left and a Right Super key, you could even make the adjustment only to on or the other. For example, you could take Super Left out of Mod4, while keeping Super Right as a normal Super button.

You should take some time to look into how others have used modifier keys over the years to get familiar with the idea and the way people have learned to take the most advantage. The idea is that you clear out the modifier, and then add back to it. You could set up something such as ~/.xmodmaprc and then running xmodmap ~/.xmodmaprc.

# .xmodmaprc
clear mod4
clear control

add mod4 = Super_R
add control = Super_L
add control = Control_L
add control = Control_R 

Why not just use the Control key to begin with? It is very likely you have a Control key next to your Super key, so it will be up to you to find use for another modifier, such as Mod3, and use that. Others use Mod2 or Mod5 in pretty clever ways to increase the number of modifiers available.

Once you get everything the way you'd like, you can have these setting activated with X and your user every time you log in by adding the xmodmap line to your ~/.xinitrc file:

xmodmap ~/.xmodmaprc

After you remap your Super_L key to not be part of Mod4, but part of another modifier group, the Global Keyboard Shortcuts should pick up on your key combinations.

Issues likely to be related

While actually a Gnome bug (?), could this issue or similar be happening to you? It is more likely you want this Plasma configuration workaround, titled "How can I prevent Meta from opening up KDE Plasma's launcher?":

As implied here, edit ~/.config/kwinrc, adding the following lines to the bottom.  



Then restart kwin with kwin_x11 --replace & disown.

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