I use Emacs for most of my tasks at work. However in Ubuntu there is no efficient way to get to Emacs.

Sure you could call for it through the terminal CTR + ALT + T then type emacs, but then you’re left with a terminal window hanging out in your bottom bar taking up space. I also have a similar problem with Matlab, where it won’t respond to launching from the dropdown navigation menu. Instead it only responds when opened from the Terminal for some reason. Oh, and you could also select the Emacs icon from the drag and drop menu of the Gnome launch bar. But who has the time?

A solution is to Hotkey your go-to programs. Ubuntu appears to make this look easy, but there’s a few maneuvering tricks involved.

The Steps

  • Open System Settings
  • Choose Keyboard
  • Go to the Shortcuts Tab
  • Choose Custom Shortcuts option, which is at the bottom of the list
  • Click the + button.
  • For Name, type whatever title you want to give your command, like “Open Emacs”
  • IMPORTANT: In Command, type the command you want executed. It basically behaves like a terminal here. So if your program is called from the terminal in all lowercase, like emacs,matlab, or firefox, then write it that way.
  • Click Apply
  • Find your new entry (ie: Open Emacs)
  • IMPORTANT Click on the text that reads Disabled
  • The text will change from “Disabled” to New Accelerator. Now press the key combination of your choice to be assigned to your custom shortcut.
  • Congrats! You now have a custom hotkey.

Your Function keys nine through 12 are pretty much sitting ducks so assign them however you’d like.