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How To Remap Super (Left) Key to Control Key in Ubuntu

Ubuntu 7

In this article, we will delve into the process of remapping the Super (Left) key to act as the Control key in Ubuntu. This can be beneficial for those who are more accustomed to the Control key’s placement on other operating systems, or for those who simply prefer a different key layout.

Quick Answer

Yes, it is possible to remap the Super (Left) key to act as the Control key in Ubuntu. There are multiple methods to achieve this, including using the xmodmap command in the terminal, creating a .Xmodmap file, using Gnome Tweaks, or editing the /etc/default/keyboard file. Choose the method that suits your preferences and follow the steps outlined in the post to remap the keys.

What is Key Remapping?

Key remapping is the process of changing the function of a specific key on your keyboard. This can be useful for customizing your keyboard layout to better suit your needs or preferences.

Understanding Key Codes and Modifiers

Before we begin, it’s important to understand key codes and modifiers. A key code is a specific code that corresponds to a key on your keyboard, while a modifier is a key that modifies the function of another key when pressed together.

In Ubuntu, the Super key is often set as a modifier key, labeled as mod4. The Control key, on the other hand, is labeled as control.

Method 1: Using xmodmap Command in Terminal

The xmodmap utility is a command-line tool that allows you to modify keymaps in X windows.

  1. Open a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T.
  2. Run the following command:
    xmodmap -e "remove mod4 = Super_L"
    This command removes the Super_L (Left Super key) from the mod4 modifier.
  3. Next, run:
    xmodmap -e "add control = Super_L"
    This command adds the Super_L key to the control modifier, effectively making it function as a Control key.

Method 2: Creating a .Xmodmap file

Another way to remap keys is by creating a .Xmodmap file in your home directory.

  1. Open a text editor and create a new file named .Xmodmap.
  2. Add the following lines to the file:
    remove mod4 = Super_L
    add control = Super_L
    These lines do the same thing as the xmodmap commands we used earlier.
  3. Save the file.

To activate the changes on startup, add the following line to your .bashrc file: xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap. The .bashrc file is a script that runs every time you open a new terminal session.

Method 3: Using Gnome Tweaks (GUI)

For those who prefer a graphical interface, Gnome Tweaks is a great tool that allows you to customize many aspects of your Ubuntu experience, including key remapping.

  1. Install Gnome Tweaks by running sudo apt install gnome-tweaks in the terminal.
  2. Open Gnome Tweaks and go to the “Keyboard & Mouse” section.
  3. Click on “Additional Layout Options”.
  4. Expand the “Ctrl position” section.
  5. Select “Swap Left Win with Left Ctrl”.

Method 4: Editing the /etc/default/keyboard file

This method involves editing the /etc/default/keyboard file, which contains default keyboard settings.

  1. Open the /etc/default/keyboard file in a text editor with root permissions, for example by running sudo nano /etc/default/keyboard in the terminal.
  2. Look for the line that starts with XKBOPTIONS=.
  3. Add altwin:ctrl_win to the options, like this: XKBOPTIONS="altwin:ctrl_win".
  4. Save the file and restart your system for the changes to take effect.


Remapping keys in Ubuntu can help you create a more comfortable and efficient keyboard layout. Whether you prefer using the terminal, editing files, or using a GUI, there’s a method that will suit your needs. Remember to always back up your original settings before making any changes, and happy customizing!

What is the Super key in Ubuntu?

In Ubuntu, the Super key refers to the key with the Windows logo or the Ubuntu logo on it. It is often used as a modifier key to perform various actions or open the application launcher.

Why would I want to remap the Super key to the Control key?

Remapping the Super key to the Control key can be useful for users who are more accustomed to the Control key’s placement on other operating systems or for those who prefer a different key layout. It allows you to perform common keyboard shortcuts without having to adjust your muscle memory.

Can I remap any key on my keyboard?

Yes, you can remap most keys on your keyboard using different methods. However, some keys may have specific functions that cannot be easily remapped or may require additional steps.

Will remapping the Super key affect other keyboard shortcuts?

Yes, remapping the Super key to the Control key will change the behavior of any keyboard shortcuts that involve the Super key. For example, if you have a shortcut that uses Super + D to show the desktop, it will now require using Control + D instead.

Can I undo the remapping if I change my mind?

Yes, you can undo the remapping by reverting the changes made in the methods described in this article. Simply follow the steps in reverse or remove the lines added to the configuration files.

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