We’re always looking for new ways to speed up everyday tasks in Ubuntu. We’ll show you some keyboard shortcuts you might not have known about, and show you how to make your own custom shortcuts.
When Keyboards Ruled the Earth
Unix—the spiritual predecessor of Linux—predates graphical user interfaces. The keyboard was the only game in town, so it was typing all the way. No surprise then, that functionality was soon introduced for the benefit of the computer operators of yesteryear.
Features such as the history command and aliases started to appear in Unix shells. Their purpose was to increase productivity by reducing repetition and removing the need to remember obscure sequences of commands.
Keyboard shortcuts boost efficiency, too. These are neat combinations of keystrokes that trigger some useful action for us. They don’t type text, they cause something to happen.
We’re going to look at some of the more useful Ubuntu keyboard shortcuts, both for the terminal and on Ubuntu’s GNOME Shell desktop. We’ll also demonstrate how to create your own shortcuts by applying the keystrokes of your choice to the action you want to perform. We tested this keyboard shortcuts on Ubuntu 19.04 Disco Dingo.
The Super key is the one between the Ctrl and Alt keys toward the bottom left corner of the keyboard. On most keyboards, this will have a Windows symbol on it—in other words, “Super” is an operating system-neutral name for the Windows key. We’ll be making good use of the Super key.
Keyboard Shortcuts for the Terminal
The following keyboard shortcuts work in GNOME Terminal—Ubuntu’s built-in terminal application. If they don’t seem to work, click menu > Preferences > Shortcuts in a Terminal window and ensure “Enable Shortcuts” is checked.
Use these keyboard shortcuts to speed up your Linux command line experience:
Opening and Closing Terminal Windows
Ctrl+Alt+T or Shift+Ctrl+N: Open a terminal window.
Shift+Ctrl+Q: Close the current terminal window
Terminal Window Tabs
Shift+Ctrl+T: Open a new tab.
Shift+Ctrl+W Close the current tab.
Ctrl+Page Up: Switch to the previous tab.
Ctrl+Page Down: Switch to the next tab.
Shift+Ctrl+Page Up: Move to the tab to the left.
Shift+Ctrl+Page Down: Move to the tab to the right.
Alt+1: Switch to Tab 1.
Alt+2: Switch to Tab 2.
Alt+3: Switch to Tab 3, and so on, up to Alt+9 to switch to tab 9
Alt+0: Switch to Tab 10.
Command Line Editing
Shift+Ctrl+C: Copy the highlighted text. You must use the mouse to highlight the text.
Shift+Ctrl+V: Paste the copied text in a terminal window. If you are pasting into an application such as an editor, Ctrl+V will probably work.
Ctrl+A or Home: Go to the start of a command line.
Ctrl+E or End: Go to the end of a command line.
Alt+B or Ctrl+Left Arrow: Move the cursor backward one word.
Ctrl+B or Left Arrow: Move the cursor backward one character.
Alt+F or Ctrl+Right Arrow: Move the cursor forward one word.
Ctrl+F or Right Arrow: Move the cursor forward one character.
Ctrl+XX: Hop between the current position of the cursor and the start of the line. Hold down Ctrl and Press X twice, quickly.
Ctrl+D or Delete: Delete the character under the cursor.
Ctrl+U: Delete all characters before the cursor. Ctrl+E, Ctrl+U will delete the entire line.
Alt+D: Delete all characters after the cursor to the end of the line.
Ctrl+H or Backspace: Delete the character before the cursor.
Controlling The Terminal Display
Ctrl+L: Clear the terminal window. Same as typing clear.
Ctrl+S: Stop scrolling output. Freezes the output from a program, but allows the program to continue to run in the background.
Ctrl+Q: Restart scrolling output if it has been stopped with Ctrl+S.
Zooming the Terminal Window
Shift+Ctrl++ (that is, Shift, Ctrl and +, “the plus sign”): Zoom in.
Ctrl+- (that is, Shift, Ctrl and -, “the minus sign“): Zoom out.
F11: Full screen.
Ctrl+0 (that is, Ctrl and 0, “zero”): Return to normal size.
Searching in a Terminal Window
Shift+Ctrl+G: Find the next occurrence of the search term.
Shift+Ctrl+H: Find the previous occurrence of the search term.
Shift+Ctrl+J: Clear text highlights.
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