Keyboard shortcuts

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Standard Shortcuts


These are low level shortcuts that are considered to be used for debugging. Whenever possible, it is recommended to use these instead of doing a hard shutdown (holding power button to shutdown the motherboard).

Must be activated first with echo "1" > /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq or if you wish to have it enabled during boot, edit /etc/sysctl.d/99-sysctl.conf and set kernel.sysrq = 1

A common idiom to remember this is "Reboot Even If System Utterly Broken" (also referred to as "REISUB").

Keyboard Shortcut Description
Alt+SysRq+R+ Unraw Take control of keyboard back from X.
Alt+SysRq+E+ Terminate Send SIGTERM to all processes, allowing them to terminate gracefully.
Alt+SysRq+I+ Kill Send SIGKILL to all processes, forcing them to terminate immediately.
Alt+SysRq+S+ Sync Flush data to disk.
Alt+SysRq+U+ Unmount Unmount and remount all filesystems read-only.
Alt+SysRq+B+ Reboot Reboot

See Magic SysRq key - Wikipedia for more details.


Virtual console

Keyboard Shortcut Description
Ctrl+Alt+Del Reboots Computer (specified by the symlink /usr/lib/systemd/system/
Alt+F1, F2, F3, ... Switch to n-th virtual console
Alt+ Switch to previous virtual console
Alt+ Switch to next virtual console
Scroll Lock When Scroll Lock is activated, input/output is locked
⇑ Shift+PgUp/PgDown Scrolls console buffer up/down
Ctrl+C Kills current task
Ctrl+D Inserts an EOF
Ctrl+Z Pauses current Task


GNU readline is a commonly used library for line-editing, it is used for example by bash, ftp and many more (see the details of readline package under "Required By" for more examples). readline is also customizable (see manpage for details).

Keyboard Shortcut Description
Ctrl+L Clear the screen
Cursor Movement
Ctrl+B Move cursor one character to the left
Ctrl+F Move cursor one character to the right
Alt+B Move cursor one word to the left
Alt+F Move cursor one word to the right
Ctrl+A Move cursor to start of the line
Ctrl+E Move cursor to end of the line
Copy & Paste
Ctrl+U Cut everything from line start to cursor
Ctrl+K Cut everything from the cursor to end of the line
Alt+D Cut the current word after the cursor
Ctrl+W Cut the current word before the cursor
Ctrl+Y Paste the previous cut text
Alt+Y Paste the second latest cut text
Alt+Ctrl+Y Paste the first argument of the previous command
Alt+.or_ Paste the last argument of the previous command
Ctrl+P Move to the previous line
Altl+N Move to the next line
Ctrl+S Search
Ctrl+R Reverse search
Ctrl+J End search
Ctrl+G Abort search (restores original line)
Alt+R Restores all changes made to line
Tab Auto-complete a name
Altl+? List all possible completions
Alt+* Insert all possible completions


Keyboard Shortcut Description
Ctrl+Alt+F1, F2, F3, ... Switch to n-th virtual console
Ctrl+Alt++/- Switch to higher/lower available resolutions
Ctrl+⇑ Shift+Num Lock Toggles keyboard mouse; uses numpad, mouse click is done by 5, use /, *, and -to switch the click to left, middle, and right click
Mouse Button 3
Copy selected text to clipboard, or paste from clipboard


User Customization


This example adds keys that allow (in vi-mode) to search backward through the history for the string of characters between the start of the current line and the point. This is a non-incremental search.

set editing-mode vi
set keymap vi-insert
"\C-r": history-search-backward
"\C-e": history-search-forward


See Keyboard Configuration in Xorg#Frequently used XKB options for some common shortcuts, that are disabled by default.

See xmodmap for more extensive keyboard layout modifications.

Key binding for X-selection-paste

Users who prefer to work rather with the keyboard than the mouse may benefit from a key binding to the paste operation of the middle mouse button. This is especially useful in a keyboard-centered environment. A workflow example is:

  1. In Firefox, select a string you want to google for (with the mouse).
  2. Hit Ctrl+k to enter the "Google search" field.
  3. Hit F12 to paste the buffer, instead of moving the mouse pointer to the field and center-click to paste.

The method suggested here uses three packages available in the official repositories:

  • xsel to give access to the x-selection-buffer content.
  • xbindkeys to bind a key-stroke to an action.
  • xvkbd to pass the buffer string to the application by emulating keyboard input.

This example binds the x-selection-paste operation to the F12 key:

"xvkbd -no-jump-pointer -xsendevent -text "\D1`xsel`" 2>/dev/null"

The "\D1" code prefixes a 100 ms pause to inserting the selection buffer (see the xvkbd home page).

Note: Depending on your X configuration, you may need to drop the -xsendevent argument to xvkbd.

The key codes for keys other than F12 can be determined using xbindkeys -k.

See Also:


Use the customizable-shortcuts add-on.