Ubuntu & Variants Alt + F2 (“Run Program”) Commands and what they do

(see also the file “linux commands n instruct desktop distros”, the section “KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS PARTICULAR TO THE NAVIGATION OF THE GNOME DESKTOP/GNOME DESKTOP ENVIRONMENT”, c. pp 15

RESEARCH ALSO: Synapse for Linux (launcher), GNOME-Do tool for Linux



After using the alt+f2 command launcher for a while, the drop down list of stored commands can get extremely cluttered.

Remove ALT-F2 history


# gconftool-2 –set /apps/gnome-settings/gnome-panel/history-gnome-run –type list –list-type string “[]”

should clear ALT+F2 history. Note that it is oriented toward the GNOME DE, and therefore may not work for other desktop environs (KDE, XFCE, et al).


If you have GNOME Terminal installed, just typing :


and hit Enter should cause it to launch.

Let’s understand that there is also K-Term (usually associated with KDE Desktop), and X-Term (XFCE Desktop), et al. And there is KORN shell, and blah blah. So it depends on * which * Terminal emulator program you’re trying to launch—and whether or not that specific one is already installed to your system. But * most * Linux-based desktop distros seem to come with either GNOME-Terminal, or the KDE one. You can add others, and have them available in the system concurrently with one another—but be sure to install in such a way that you know any possible dependencies issues will be satisfied: try using Software Center/Software Manager, or Synaptic Package Manager.


When, while holding the Alt key, we press the F2 key the “Run Application” dialog of GNOME appears.

There we can type the name of an application and then press the Enter or Return key (or click on the Run button) so the desired application opens. Using this to launch programs requires that you know their command name, but it’s usually fairly obvious. For example if we enter gedit the gedit text editor opens. There is also an auto-complete feature active, which shows what the remainder of a command as highlighted text, based-on what the program * thinks * you’re trying to find. This can be helpful to those of us with a less-than-perfect memory for commands, or those not versed in these commands.

Any program can be launched this way.

We can also type the address of a folder so Nautilus opens in that place. For example if we enter /tmp Nautilus opens in this directory.

This dialog helps us entering the data. For example if we type gca automatically gcalctool is offered.

This dialog can run any of the many applications inside /usr/bin .

Should you want to kill a certain program, you should try typing [Alt + F2, & then] “xkill“. This command will give you a cursor you can use to force any program to quit by clicking on it, perfect when a piece of software hangs on you:



Open the Alt+F2 “Run” dialog and


gnome-screenshot –area

I like to map it to the keyboard shortcut Alt + Print.

NOTE for XFCE users:

There is a pre-enabled way to open an area-screenshot dialog in XFCE.

Hit “Print” (sometimes labeled “Pint Screen”).

This will open XFCE 4.x’s tool “screenshooter”. It is set to open with the “grab area” option, by default, in most distros. You can select “whole desktop” or “whole screen” with the mouse-pointer, if you wish.

NOTE that you may have to have Nautilus installed, and use * that *, if you want to COPY a .png screenshot (or other type) into a file—or to any location; the Thunar files-manager (usu. the default in many distros set-up with XFCE) may only copy a LINK, by default, instead of the image.

gedit: gedit (text editor)

gnome-control-center : GNOME Control Center (control panel)

gnome-terminal : GNOME Terminal (terminal emulator)

xset dpms force off : switches the screen off (useful for laptops)

[Link: http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/4466/screen-turns-on-automatically-xset-dpms-force-off


http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-1317747.html ]


eog : Eye of GNOME (image viewer) (not necessary because it opens when we click on an image showing that image -if it’s the default application for the image format-)

file-roller : File Roller (archive manager) (not necessary because it opens when we click on a compressed file we want to decompress; and there is a Compress… entry on the menu when we right click after having selected one or more files we want to compress)

gcalctool : gcalctool (calculator)

gconf-editor : Configuration Editor (user preferences and system configuration data editor for the GNOME Desktop and many applications)

gnome-search-tool : Search for Files (file searcher)

gnome-session-save –logout-dialog : “Log Out of the Session” dialog (to finish or close the session; or to switch or change the user)

gnome-session-save –shutdown-dialog : “Shut Down the Computer” dialog (to turn the computer off, reboot it, suspend it or hibernate it)

totem : Totem (movie player; also plays audios)

xcalc: xcalc (calculator)

xterm: xterm (terminal emulator) (gnome-terminal’s scroll is easier to manage)

gucharmap or gnome-character-map : GNOME Character Map

setxkbmap xx : change the keyboard layout (xx may be it or gb or es or fr …)


One thought on “Ubuntu & Variants Alt + F2 (“Run Program”) Commands and what they do

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