Tips and Tricks

Here are some general tips and tricks about using GNOME - things that aren't immediately obvious, but can be quite useful. To get even more out of GNOME, consider some of the PowerUserTools.

This is as of GNOME version 2.14, March 2006.


Like other desktops, you can drag a window's titlebar to move it around. You can also Alt-drag (i.e., drag with the left mouse button while holding down the Alt key) anywhere in the window, which is a much bigger target. Also hold down Shift while dragging to snap to screen edges and other windows.

Similarly, Alt-middle-mouse-drag anywhere in the window to re-size the window.

Double-clicking on a titlebar will (idiotically) maximize the window (this behavior exists only because Windows does the same, it can be turned off).

Middle-clicking (once) on a titlebar will lower the window - try it on overlapping windows to see what happens.

Dragging some selected text from an application into a nautilus window (including the desktop) will create a new file containing that selected text in the directory into which it was dropped.

[Can we nuke this paragraph? The original had some wrong/misleading text, and most of the behavior is simply due to bugs.] Dragging from a window that is currently not active, will raise that to the front. (This is a bug; clicking should raise only if the click doesn't potentially begin a drag-and-drop operation). At times that window will now cover the place where you wanted to drop. You can keep that window in the background by holding some modifier keys like Control, Shift or Super ("Windows key") when you start to drag (however, Alt, or whatever the mouse_button_modifier has been configured to be, will not work. Further this workaround possibly exists only due to a separate bug.) To see other useful tips on dragging and dropping see the section about dragging and dropping files in this page.

Panels (and Applets)

Scrolling the mouse wheel, while the mouse pointer is over the window list (which is roughly equivalent to what other desktops might call the taskbar or the dock), will cycle through those windows. You don't need to click, just scroll the wheel.

Similarly, mouse-scrolling over the workspace list will change the active workspace.

Mouse-scrolling over the volume icon will make things louder or softer. Right-click for a menu option to mute all sounds.

Click on the clock to bring up your calendar.

Alt-F1 brings up the desktop menu - the one that says, "Applications Places System".

Alt-F2 brings up a nifty autocompleting run application dialog which gives the option to launch an application graphically, in the terminal and/or append a file to the command

Alt-F3 places the cursor in the deskbar dialog

Dragging and dropping files

Drag-and-dropping files with the left mouse button will move files, just like other desktops. There are some modifiers to the normal drag and drop make this action more powerful:

  • drag and drop with the middle mouse button or with the Alt key pressed gives you the menu of options, such as copying rather than moving the files

  • keeping the Ctrl key pressed while drag and dropping will copy the files instead of moving them

  • holding the Shift key pressed while drag and dropping will move the files

  • pressing both Shift and Ctrl will create a symbolic link to the file

  • it is also possible to change the action to be performed while dragging pressing and releasing the modifiers presented above
  • dragging from a window not currently active while pressing the AltGr key or the Super key (usually the Windows key) or one of the modifier key told above will not raise the window, leaving the focus on the current window (this workaround to not-raising-windows-when-they-shouldn't-be possibly only exists due to separate bugs)

  • dragging something over a minimized or obscured window button in the window list (in the gnome-panel) will bring up the window
  • pressing Esc while dragging something will cancel the drag

Otherwise undocumented gconf keys

  • /apps/nautilus/preferences/desktop_is_home_dir Tells nautilus to treat the users desktop as their home directory
  • /apps/panel/global/enable_animations Disables the panel effects (great when using compiz)

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DocumentationProject/TipsAndTricks (last edited 2008-02-03 14:46:51 by anonymous)