Here is an example of the problem in gnome. However, when I tried this in Xfce, the same problem occurs.

I have set up a Hyper key on the keyboard. It works fine for keyboard shortcuts and seems to be ok when checked with xev. However, applying these gsettings doesn't work:

org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-windows ['<Hyper>Tab']
org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-windows-backward ['<Hyper><Shift>Tab']

i.e. the gnome gsettings command is:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-windows "['<Hyper>Tab']"

The same problem occurs when using Hyper for switch-applications and cycle-windows - that also doesn't work. However, when e.g. Super or Alt is used, all combinations work as expected.

I also note that it's perfectly possible to bind Hyper+1,2, 3, ... a, b, c to actions (e.g. using autokey). Importantly, it's also possible to bind Hyper+Tab to other actions - that works fine. So it seems like a weird interaction between Hyper+Tab and the window-switch settings?

I have recently tried this in Xfce, and got the same problem. (Ubuntu 19.04). So it's either to do with a shared component in gnome and Xfce or not to do with gnome/Xfce at all.

Primary question: What does Hyper not work?

Now, I've posted this is several forums, asked on IRC etc etc.

Secondary question: Why is there no answer? Is this question genuinely hard? Am I asking in the wrong places? Is this an esoteric problem that others haven't noticed? Would love to know!

Edit. output from xev removed 2019-11-18

  • Did you check the key combos on xev or only the key by itself?
    – Spidey
    Nov 17, 2019 at 19:16
  • Thank you so much for the comment! The desired combo is Hyper+Tab. So on xev I see Hyper-down, Tab-down, Tab-up, Hyper-up. Is that what you meant?
    – bjohas
    Nov 17, 2019 at 19:44
  • Try with shift and check if xev shows the keys pressed together. Even better if you could paste xev output here for both cases.
    – Spidey
    Nov 17, 2019 at 20:04
  • I have added this to the main post.
    – bjohas
    Nov 17, 2019 at 20:12
  • Interesting - x01=shift, x04=ctrl, but x08 is alt, x80 is hyper. Is that correct?
    – bjohas
    Nov 17, 2019 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


The suggestion to look at the keyboard with xev led me to identifying the likely issue. In particular,

xmodmap -pm

showed that mod5 was overcrowded, where my modifications had been included with the default map (for the xkb US keyboard layout) of:

mod4        Super_L (0x25),  Super_R (0x86),  Super_L (0xce),  Hyper_L (0xcf)
mod5        ISO_Level3_Shift (0x5c),  Mode_switch (0xcb)

vs. my map of

mod4        Super_L (0x25),  Super_R (0x86),  Super_L (0xce),  Hyper_L (0xcf)
mod5        <OTHER_KEYS, inc. Hyper_R> ISO_Level3_Shift (0x5c),  Mode_switch (0xcb) 

So ISO_Level3_Shift was triggered along Hyper, and thus didn't work.

Edit. 2019-11-18. Basically fixing to Super, and then using different mod numbers worked. For details, see writeup here: https://github.com/bjohas/Ubuntu-keyboard-map-like-OS-X/blob/master/Hyper%20key.md

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