How to Change the Linux Mint Cinnamon Keyboard Shortcuts

Configure your Linux Mint keyboard the way you want

The Ultimate Guide to Keyboard Shortcuts
The Ultimate Guide to Keyboard Shortcuts

This guide will show you how to adjust the keyboard shortcuts within Linux Mint 19 running the Cinnamon desktop environment as well as setting a few extra shortcuts.

After you have finished reading this guide, you can follow this one to customize the Linux Mint Cinnamon desktop.

Open the Keyboard Settings Screen

To begin editing shortcuts, open the Mint menu. Navigate to Preferences, and scroll down until you see Keyboard.

Linux Mint menu keyboard preferences

Alternatively, open the menu, and start typing "Keyboard into the search bar.

Linux Mint keyboard shortcuts

The keyboard settings screen will appear with three tabs:

  1. Typing
  2. Shortcuts
  3. Layouts

Primarily this guide is about the Shortcuts tab.

Linux Mint typing settings

The typing tab, however, allows you to toggle enable keyboard repeat. When keyboard repeat is on you can hold down a key and after a set amount of time, it will repeat. You can adjust the wait time and how quickly the character repeats by dragging sliders.

You can also turn on the text cursor blinks and set the blink speed.

Linux Mint keyboard layouts

The layouts tab is where you add different keyboard layouts for different languages.

For this guide, you will need the shortcuts tab.

The Keyboard Shortcuts Screen

The shortcuts screen has a list of categories down the left, a list of keyboard shortcuts in the top right, and a list of key bindings in the bottom right.

There are also buttons for adding and removing custom keyboard shortcuts.

To set a keyboard control you first need to select a category. Start with General for something basic.

Linux Mint general keyboard shortcuts

The list of possible keyboard shortcuts appears such as Toggle Scale, Toggle Expo, Cycle Through Open Windows, etc. will appear.

Linux Mint assign keyboard shortcut

To bind a keyboard combination select one of the shortcuts and click on one of the unassigned keyboard bindings. You can overwrite an existing keyboard binding if you so wish, but unless you have good reason to do so, it is better to add shortcuts rather than overwrite them.

When you select unassigned, you can now press a keyboard combination to associate with that shortcut.

Linux Mint keyboard shortcut assigned

The binding will start to work straight away.

General Keyboard Shortcut Bindings

Custom keyboard settings for Cinnamon

The general category has the following keyboard shortcut options:

  • Toggle scale
  • Toggle expo
  • Cycle through open windows
  • Cycle backward through open windows
  • Cycle through open windows of the same application
  • Cycle backward through open windows of the same application
  • Run dialogue

The toggle scale option shows all the applications for the current workspace.

The toggle expo option shows a grid of workspaces.

Cycle through open windows shows all the open windows.

The cycle through open windows of the same application doesn't have a default shortcut set. This is one you might want to set for yourself. If you have lots of terminal windows open or file managers this will help you navigate through them.

The run dialogue brings up a window where you can run an application by typing in its name.

Linux Mint general keyboard shortcuts subheading

The general category contains a sub-category called troubleshooting which lets you set a keyboard shortcut for Toggle Looking Glass.

The Toggle Looking Glass provides a diagnostics type tool for Cinnamon.

Windows Keyboard Shortcut Bindings

Maximizing a window in Linux Mint

The Windows top-level category has the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • Maximize window
  • Unmaximize window
  • Minimize window
  • Close window
  • Show desktop
  • Activate window menu
  • Raise window
  • Lower window
  • Toggle maximization state
  • Toggle fullscreen state
  • Toggle shaded state

Most of these should be fairly obvious as to what they do.

The maximize window shortcut doesn't have a keyboard binding so you can set one if you wish. As unmaximize is set to ALT and F5 it would make sense to set it to ALT and F6.

Linux Mint window keyboard shortcuts

Minimize window also doesn't have a shortcut. We recommend setting this to SHIFT ALT and F6.

2 other keyboard shortcuts that don't have bindings are raise and lower window. The lower window option sends your current window backward so that it is behind other windows. The raise window option brings it forward again.

Toggle maximization state takes an unmaximized window and maximizes it or takes a maximized window and unmaximizes it.

The toggle fullscreen state doesn't have a key bound to it either. This makes an application take up the full screen, which includes the space above the Cinnamon panel. Great when running presentations or videos.

The toggle shaded state again doesn't have a key bound to it. This reduces a window down to just its title bar.

Customize Window Positioning Keyboard Shortcuts

Moving a window in Linux Mint

This one's a sub-category of windows shortcut settings is positioning.

The available options are as follows:

  • Resize window
  • Move window
  • Centre window in screen
  • Move window to upper right
  • Move window to upper left
  • Move window to lower right
  • Move window to lower left
  • Move window to right edge
  • Move window to top edge
  • Move window to bottom edge
  • Move window to left edge

Only the resize and move windows options have keyboard bindings by default.

The others are really useful for moving windows about quickly, so we set them using the enter and number keys of the keypad.

Customizing Tiling and Snapping Keyboard Shortcuts

Snapping a window to the top

Another sub-category of windows keyboard shortcuts is Tiling and Snapping.

The shortcuts for this screen are as follows:

  • Push tile left
  • Push tile right
  • Push tile up
  • Push tile down
  • Push snap left
  • Push snap right
  • Push snap top
  • Push snap down

All of these currently have keyboard shortcuts which are SUPER and LEFT, SUPER and RIGHT, SUPER and UP, SUPER and DOWN.


Inter-Workspace Keyboard Shortcuts

Moving to a different workspace.

The third sub-category of Windows keyboard shortcuts is "Inter-Workspace" and this deals with moving windows to different workspaces.

The available options are as follows:

  • Move window to new workspace
  • Move window to left workspace
  • Move window to right workspace
  • Move window to workspace 1
  • Move window to workspace 2
  • Move window to workspace 3
  • Move window to workspace 4
  • Move window to workspace 5
  • Move window to workspace 6
  • Move window to workspace 7
  • Move window to workspace 8

By default, only the "move window to left workspace" and "move window to right workspace" have key bindings.

It is a good idea to create a shortcut for moving to a new workspace so that you can de-clutter easily.

Having shortcuts for workspaces 1,2,3 and 4 is probably a good idea as well as it saves holding down the SHIFT, CTRL, ALT, and LEFT or RIGHT arrow keys down and trying to press the arrow keys the correct number of times.

Inter-Monitor Keyboard Shortcuts

Logitech Bluetooth illuminated keyboard

The final set of keyboard shortcuts for the Windows category is "Inter-Monitor."

This sub-category is really only relevant to people who have more than one monitor.

The options are as follows:

  • Move window to left monitor
  • Move window to right monitor
  • Move window to up monitor
  • Move window to down monitor

Rather surprisingly all of these have pre-defined keyboard shortcuts which are SHIFT, SUPER, and the arrow for the direction.

Customizing Workspace Keyboard Shortcuts

Moving to another workspace

The workspaces category has two keyboard shortcuts available:

  • Switch to left workspace
  • Switch to right workspace

You can customize the key bindings for these as specified in step 2.

By default, the shortcuts are CTRL, ALT, and either the left or right arrow key.

There is a single sub-category called Direct Navigation.

This provides shortcut bindings as follows:

  • Switch to workspace 1
  • Switch to workspace 2
  • Switch to workspace 3
  • .....
  • Switch to Workspace 12

Yes, there are 12 potential keyboard shortcuts that can be used to instantly access a particular workspace.

As there are only 4 default workspaces it makes sense to do the first 4 but you could use all 12 if you choose the function keys.

For instance why not CTRL and F1, CTRL, and F2, CTRL and F3, etc.

Customize System Keyboard Shortcuts

Locking the screen in Cinammon

The system category has the following keyboard shortcuts.

  • Log out
  • Shut down
  • Lock screen
  • Suspend
  • Hibernate
  • Restart Cinnamon

Log out, shut down, and lock screen all have pre-defined keyboard shortcuts that will work on every computer.

If you have a laptop or modern PC, you will more than likely have extra keys that work when the FN key is pressed.

Suspend, therefore, is set to work using the sleep key which probably has a symbol of a moon on it. On our keyboard, you can access it with FN and F1.

Hibernate is set to work using the hibernate key.

The system category has a sub-category called Hardware.

The shortcuts under hardware are as follows:

  • Re-detect display devices
  • Rotate windows
  • Increase brightness
  • Decrease brightness
  • Toggle keyboard backlight
  • Increase backlight level
  • Decrease backlight level
  • Toggle touchpad state
  • Turn touchpad on
  • Turn touchpad off
  • Show power statistics

Many of these items use special function keys which can be used with the Fn key and one of the function keys.

If you are finding it difficult to find the key or simply don't have an FN key you can set your own key binding.

Customize Screenshot Keyboard Settings

Taking a screenshot of a window

Linux Mint comes with a screenshot tool that can be found by opening the menu and selecting accessories and screenshots.

Keyboard shortcuts are available as a sub-category to System settings to make it easier to take screenshots.

  • Take a screenshot of an area
  • Copy a screenshot of an area to the clipboard
  • Take a screenshot of the entire screen
  • Copy a screenshot of the entire screen to the clipboard
  • Take a screenshot of a new window
  • Copy a screenshot of a new window to the clipboard
  • Record a video

All of these options have a pre-defined keyboard shortcut already set for them.

It's recommended to use Vokoscreen as a tool for recording the desktop.

Customize Keyboard Shortcuts for Launching Applications

Opening the file manager in Linux Mint

By default, you can add keyboard shortcut settings for launching applications by clicking on the Launching Applications category.

The following application keyboard settings can be set up:

Only the terminal and home folder currently have useful keyboard settings.

We recommend setting up shortcuts for your email and web browser as well. 

Sound and Media Keyboard Shortcut Settings

Listening to audio podcasts in Banshee

The Sound and Media category has the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • Volume mute
  • Volume down
  • Volume up
  • Launch media player
  • Play
  • Pause playback
  • Stop playback
  • Previous track
  • Next track
  • Eject
  • Rewind

The default bindings are again set to function keys that are available on modern keyboards but you can always set your own.

The launch media player option will launch the default media player. It might be better to use custom shortcuts which will be mentioned later on.

The Sound and Media category has a sub-category called "Quiet Keys." This provides the following keyboard shortcuts:

  • Volume mute (quiet)
  • Volume down (quiet)
  • Volume up (quiet)

Universal Access Keyboard Shortcuts

Backlit keyboard
Aku Siukosaari / Getty Images

For those of us who are getting older and for people with sight issues, there are keyboard shortcuts for zooming in and out and increasing the text size.

You can also turn on the on-screen keyboard.

Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

Customizing keyboard shortcuts in Linux Mint

It is at this point that it is worth discussing the Add custom shortcut button as you can use this to add shortcuts for further applications.

Press Add custom shortcut, enter the name of the application, and the command to run.

Custom Shortcuts appear under the Custom Shortcuts category.

You can specify a key binding for custom shortcuts in the same way you would any other shortcuts.

This is very useful for launching applications you use quite often such as audio players like Banshee, Rhythmbox, or Quod Libet.


Setting up keyboard shortcuts and remembering them will make you far more productive than you ever could be with a mouse or touchscreen.

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