How can I configure a shortcut key to send a text string to the current program?

The purpose is to type common entries quicker (email address, street address, phone number, username, favorite quote, etc).

I don't need any further automation than just entering the text.

Gentoo Linux (3.2.12-gentoo) Xfce Desktop Environment (Version 4.8)


One simple approach is xdotool, like

xdotool type 'text'
  • That's half the solution... how do I assign a keyboard shortcut to run that? Making a shortcut in Xfce 4.8 Settings, Keyboard didn't work.
    – Steven
    Apr 20 '12 at 2:24
  • @Steven Does it work directly from a terminal?
    – jw013
    Apr 20 '12 at 2:31
  • 4
    Yes. Also, 'sleep 5 && xdotool type text' sends the text to the "active" window.
    – Steven
    Apr 20 '12 at 2:35
  • 2
    @Steven I haven't used Xfce in a while, but my next hunch is that when the command is run, the active window is wrong somehow. I'd try running xdotool getwindowfocus both from a terminal and as a keyboard shortcut while the same terminal is open and compare the results for equality. You'll probably have to redirect the keyboard shortcut version to a temporary file in order to see it.
    – jw013
    Apr 20 '12 at 2:40
  • 3
    I use xbindkeys.
    – Mikel
    Apr 20 '12 at 2:47

The xdotool works. However if you integrate it with the keyboard shortcut .. a simple xdotool type 'text' fails.

THe following shell script helped me in that

windowid=$(xdotool getwindowfocus)
sleep 0.5 && xdotool windowactivate --sync $windowid type 'text'
  • 2
    The manuals for xdotool show that it has an internal sleep. xdotool sleep 0.3 type 'Emotional 2003' suffices. (The short sleep is necessary for some reason, I don’t know. It seems like there is a short switch of the activated or focused window when running a command?)
    – k.stm
    Nov 15 '18 at 17:40

You may use AutoKey. Here is the description from the web site. “AutoKey is a desktop automation utility for Linux and X11. It allows you to manage collection of scripts and phrases, and assign abbreviations and hotkeys to these. This allows you to execute a script or insert text on demand in whatever program you are using.”

It is packaged, as far as I can tell, for Gentoo (announced here); for Ubuntu (here); Debian (here)...


One-liner that worked for me (stolen from the comment by k.tsm)

xdotool sleep 0.3 type 'string that you want to type / paste'

Then assign a shortcut to this command in KDE and after your pressing the shortcut, the required text is magically typed for you.


you can use this to control open file dialog input in linux :

import pyautogui
import subprocess , time

pyautogui.hotkey('ctrl', 'o' , interval = 0.15)
pyautogui.hotkey('ctrl', 'l' , interval = 0.15)
subprocess.Popen("xdotool sleep 0.3 type  '{Path_file}'".format(Path_file = "............................") , shell = True)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.