12 Handy Ubuntu Keyboard Shortcuts You Should Definitely Know

Last Updated: January 19, 2017

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions, which is probably due to the fact that it easy to use, and is friendly enough for people who are new to Linux. However, if you want to quickly learn to navigate your way around your Ubuntu machine, learning keyboard shortcuts is one thing you must do. So, here are 12 Ubuntu keyboard shortcuts that will make your life easier:

1. View File Details (Properties) Quickly

If you want to view the properties of a file or folder, you will probably right click on the file, and click on “Properties“. However, there is a much easier (and faster) way of doing this. Simply select the file you want to view the properties for, and press “Ctrl + I“. This will directly open the properties panel for the file, or folder, without you having to take your hands off the keyboard.

view properties

2. View Folder Contents in a New Tab

Tabbed browsing is great, and you can open folders in new tabs, in the Ubuntu file manager. This is definitely a great feature, and will help you a lot. However, opening a folder in a new tab can be done in one of two ways: either you right click on the folder, and click on “Open in New Tab“, or you use the keyboard shortcut “Shift + Ctrl + T“. However, there is an easier way to do this.

Simply select the folder you want to open in a new tab, and press “Shift + Enter/Return“, and the folder will open up in a new tab.

view folder contents in new tab ubuntu

3. Show/Hide Hidden Files in File Manager

Another really handy shortcut to know, especially if you find yourself editing config files way too often, is how to show/hide hidden files in file manager. You can do this easily with a keyboard shortcut. Simply launch the file manager, and press “Ctrl + H“. This will toggle the hidden files between the visible/hidden state. So you can quickly find the file you were looking for, and then hide them all back again.

show hide hidden files in file manager ubuntu

4. Close All Windows of an Application

This shortcut can come in handy in situations where you quickly need to close all the windows of an app. Say you have multiple Terminals open, and you need to quit them all. You can do this easily with a keyboard shortcut. Simply press “Ctrl + Q“, and all the Terminal windows that you had opened will be closed immediately. If you just need to close a single window, press “Ctrl + W“, instead.

5. Quickly Open Trash

If you deleted a number of files, and just want to ensure that you’re not accidentally deleting an important one, the best way to do it, is to open the Trash, and check. However, doing this with the mouse can be time consuming, especially if you’re a keyboard heavy user. Fortunately, you can quickly launch the Trash with a keyboard shortcut, as well. Just press Super + T, and Ubuntu will open up the Trash for you.

NoteThe “Super” key is usually the “Windows” key on a Windows keyboard, and the “Command” key on a Mac keyboard.

6. Easily Navigate the Menu Bar Items in Ubuntu

Say you’re working, and you need to access the app’s menu to get a particular job done. Instead of taking your hands off the keyboard, and using the mouse to navigate the menus, you can use a keyboard shortcut, as well. Simply press “Alt + F10” to navigate to the menu bar. Here, you can use the cursor keys to navigate between various menu options. This will definitely save you a lot of time, in the long run.

menu bar

7. Open the Dash, and Navigate Between Lenses

The Dash is where you can find all your installed apps. It is a lot like the Launchpad in macOS. However, launching the dash requires you to click on the icon in the launcher. Instead of doing that, you can simply press the “Super” key (windows/command), to open up the Dash.

dash and lenses ubuntu

Once the Dash is open, you can switch between various lenses such as the “Application Lens”, “File Lens”, and more, by using “Ctrl + Tab“, to easily look for things that you want to find.

8. Spread All Windows

If you’ve used a Mac, you must know about the App Exposé feature. It’s a very handy feature that can prove to be extremely useful when you have a lot of applications open, and need to get a bird’s eye view of all of them. To do this in Ubuntu, you can simply press “Super + W“, and all the open application windows will be spread out on the screen, so you can see everything that is open on your computer.

birds eye view

9. Minimize All Windows

If you have a lot of windows open on your computer, and you need to quickly go to the desktop, you can quickly minimize all of them using a simple keyboard shortcut. Just press “Ctrl + Super + D“, and all of your open windows will immediately minimize.

10. Delete Whole Words in One Go

Deleting a long word, by repeatedly pressing the delete key can be very frustrating. However, there is a keyboard shortcut that you can use to quickly delete a complete word. Place the cursor to the left of the word you want to delete, and press “Ctrl + Delete” to delete the word to the right of the cursor.

NoteIf you’re using Ubuntu on a Mac, you can use “Control + Fn + Delete” to get the same result.

11. Drag Windows Easily

By default, if you want to drag a window to another location on your screen, you’ll have to click on the window title bar, and then drag it to the new location. However, you can also press “Alt” and then click anywhere on the window, and drag it to the new position. This can be very useful, as you don’t need to accurately place the cursor on the title bar of the window to move it around on the screen.

12. Resize Windows Easily

Resizing windows in Ubuntu can also be a hassle, because you need to place your cursor at the very edge of the window, for the resize icon to pop up. However, you can simply press “Alt” and then click and drag with the middle mouse button, to quickly resize the window you’re in. The best part is that you don’t need to place the cursor at the very edge. The cursor can be anywhere within the window, and this shortcut will work.

SEE ALSO: 7 Great Ubuntu Application Launchers You Can Use

Use These Ubuntu Keyboard Shortcuts to Make Your Life Easier

There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts available in Ubuntu, but these are the 12 that I think you should definitely know. Using these shortcuts will definitely make your life easier while using Ubuntu, and allow you to get your work done faster. As always, if you know of any other keyboard shortcuts for Ubuntu, that you think should be on this list, do let us know in the comments section below.


  1. 1. You can also do this one with ALT-Enter
    2. THANKS! This will really come in handy!!
    4. Doesn’t work for me. Ctrl-Q does nothing, Ctrl-W does nothing. I’m pretty sure I didn’t modify any shortcuts, maybe that’s your custom setting? 🙂