Organizing Windows using the Keyboard with Compiz Grid

3 min 415 words
Peter Tillemans Profile picture

Categories: os

Tags: ubuntu

The Mac has a great utility called Divvy to easily map windows to loacation on the screen using the keyboard. Fiddling with the mouse to get multiple windows in the right location is a productivity killer and a pain in the neck (or shoulder, or elbow, or …)

Ubuntu (and of course any other Linux distro with compiz) has a similar feature built in as a plugin for compiz. Type Alt-F2 and enter ccsm + Return in the command prompt to launch the CompizConfig Settings manager.

Select the Window Management from the left menu and enable the Grid plugin. Click on it so you can look at the key bindings in the Bindings tab. If you are on a desktop or a big laptop with a separate numeric keyboard you are set. As you can see the locations for the windows are by default mapped in a logical fashion like the arrow keys on the numeric keypad. However my laptop does not have a separate numeric keyboard and enabling it before typing the key code is a pain. Remapping them is easy by clicking on the button with the key code. A window appears with a Grab key code button. Click it and type the new keycode you want to assign it to.

If there is a conflict, you will get a window explaingin the conflict and asking how to resolve it. My first attempt was to remap the laptop numeric keys using the super keys. This conflicted with the unity launcher since the top row 7-8-9 map to the apps in the launcher. To avoid conflicts I use now Control-Super with the keys around the j-key (which is the home key for the right hand) Also autokey (a text macro expander) is mapped to Super-K

  • Control-Super-j : 100% (maximize)
  • Control-Super-h : 50% left
  • Control-Super-k : 50% right
  • Control-Super-u : 50% top
  • Control-Super-m : 50% bottom
  • Control-Super-y : 25% top-left
  • Control-Super-i : 25% top-right
  • Control-Super-n : 25% bottom-left
  • Control-Super-, : 25% bottom-right

If Control-Super-j is used to maximize a window, clicking on one of the other keys will first restore it to the original size and position and only map it to its place on the second click. I consider this a feature, but you are free to interprete it as a bug. Result, this is now super practical way to divide my windows on my screen.