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How To Set Up a UK Keyboard Layout on Ubuntu

Ubuntu 16

Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution, is lauded for its user-friendly interface and versatility. However, one common issue that users often encounter is the keyboard layout. By default, Ubuntu uses the US keyboard layout, which can be inconvenient for users in the UK. This article will guide you through the process of setting up a UK keyboard layout on Ubuntu.

Quick Answer

To set up a UK keyboard layout on Ubuntu, you can use the GUI or the terminal. In the GUI, access the settings, navigate to keyboard settings, remove the US layout, add the UK layout, and prioritize it as the primary layout. In the terminal, use the setxkbmap command to change the layout to "gb" for UK English. Remember to add the command to your startup applications for permanent changes.

Changing Keyboard Layout via GUI

The Ubuntu Graphical User Interface (GUI) provides an easy way to change your keyboard layout. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Accessing Settings: Click on the “Settings” icon located in the top-right corner of your screen.
  2. Navigating to Keyboard Settings: In the settings menu, look for and click on “Keyboard” (or “Text Entry” in older versions of Ubuntu).
  3. Managing Input Sources: Within the keyboard settings, you will find a section titled “Input Sources” or “Keyboard Layouts”.
  4. Removing the US Layout: If “English (US)” is listed, click on the “-” button to remove it.
  5. Adding the UK Layout: Click on the “+” button to add a new input source or keyboard layout. From the list of available layouts, select “English (UK)”.
  6. Prioritizing the UK Layout: Use the “^” symbol to move “English (UK)” above any other layouts in the list. This will set it as your primary keyboard layout.
  7. Closing Settings: Once you’ve made these changes, close the settings window.

After following these steps, your keyboard layout should be changed to UK English. You should now be able to type the ‘ # ‘ and ‘ ~ ‘ symbols in their correct positions.

Changing Keyboard Layout via Terminal

For those who prefer using the terminal, you can also change your keyboard layout using the command line. Here’s how:

  1. Open Terminal: You can do this by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T.
  2. Check Current Layout: Type the command setxkbmap -query and press Enter. This command will display your current keyboard layout.
  3. Change Layout: To change the layout to UK English, type setxkbmap gb and press Enter. The setxkbmap command sets the keyboard layout, while gb specifies the UK layout.
  4. Verify the Change: You can verify the change by typing setxkbmap -query again. The layout should now display as ‘gb’.

Remember, changes made through the terminal are temporary and will reset after a reboot. To make the changes permanent, you need to add the setxkbmap gb command to your startup applications.


Setting up a UK keyboard layout on Ubuntu is a straightforward process, whether you prefer using the GUI or the terminal. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily switch from the default US layout to the UK layout. This will enhance your typing experience and make it easier to input characters that are commonly used in the UK.

Can I set up a UK keyboard layout on Ubuntu if I am using a different version of Ubuntu?

Yes, you can set up a UK keyboard layout on any version of Ubuntu by following the steps mentioned in this article. The process remains the same regardless of the version you are using.

How can I switch between different keyboard layouts on Ubuntu?

Once you have set up multiple keyboard layouts on Ubuntu, you can switch between them by using the keyboard shortcut Super + Space. Pressing these keys together will cycle through the available layouts.

Can I add additional keyboard layouts besides US and UK on Ubuntu?

Yes, Ubuntu allows you to add multiple keyboard layouts from different languages and regions. In the keyboard settings, click on the "+" button to add a new input source or layout. From the list of available layouts, you can select the one you want to add.

Will changing the keyboard layout affect other settings or configurations on my Ubuntu system?

Changing the keyboard layout will only affect the input method and the characters you can type. It will not impact other settings or configurations on your Ubuntu system.

How can I remove a keyboard layout that I no longer need?

To remove a keyboard layout in Ubuntu, go to the keyboard settings and find the input sources or keyboard layouts section. Click on the "-" button next to the layout you want to remove. This will remove the layout from your available options.

Can I set up a UK keyboard layout on other Linux distributions besides Ubuntu?

Yes, the process of setting up a UK keyboard layout on other Linux distributions is similar to Ubuntu. However, the exact steps may vary depending on the distribution. It is recommended to consult the documentation or community resources specific to your Linux distribution for accurate instructions.

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