Difference between "Show the overview" and "Show the activities overview" keyboard shortcuts?

I asked this on Reddit and got quite a few upvotes on the question, but nobody seemed to have an answer.

There are two different “overview” keyboard shortcuts showing in the settings app. I can see them in both Ubuntu 21.04 (GNOME 3.38) and Fedora 34 (GNOME 40). I don’t know how far they go back in GNOME history. They appear to perform the same action (showing the Activities Overview), but they are assigned two different keyboard shortcuts. Is there any real difference between them? If not, why do they both exist?

Most importantly, is one of these more “correct” to use as the primary Activities Overview shortcut?

Show the activities overview
Show the overview


In one word: history.

The Alt+F1 one dates back to GNOME 2, where it used to open the “Applications” menu in the top bar (thus the underlying name panel-main-menu). We kept the shortcut in GNOME 3 to make the transition a bit less disruptive (muscle memory).

Some years later “GNOME Classic” became a thing, which reimplements a GNOME 2-like interface with a set of gnome-shell extensions. There the old panel-main-menu shortcut once again opens the main top bar menu, so some people asked for a “really open the overview” shortcut that wouldn’t get overriden.

In hindsight I wish I had said no, but we are where we are now. And to be fair, toggle-overview (the new shortcut) is a much better fit than panel-main-menu.

Would you mind opening an issue for gnome-shell? It’s not immediately clear how to best address this, but it’s definitively worth addressing …

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So if I understand, the more “correct” one moving forward is the “Show the activities overview” that represents “toggle-overview”. But some people still use the other one.

There is this existing issue from a month ago:


I feel like the best solution is to leave it there if people need it, but just rename it so it no longer refers to the “overview” at all. Then there will be no confusion.

I would suggest something like “Show classic applications menu”. Right to the point, and nobody who doesn’t need it will ever care that it’s there.

Although, actually, it would make a lot more sense if it really opened the new applications screen rather than the Activities Overview. Since that’s kind of what it used to do originally.

After more than ten years, I’m not sure this still holds for a significant number of users.

It’s still confusing to refer to a UI element that doesn’t exist for most users. I tend towards hiding it from the UI altogether, maybe even leave it unset in the regular session.

Arguably the overview fits the “main menu” term better than the app grid, but in any case duplicating the SuperA shortcut instead of SuperS isn’t much of a solution.

And if we go with “classic application menu”, then the least surprising handling in the non-classic session would be to not do anything :slight_smile:

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Hiding a redundant shortcut looks good idea, not to mention the fact that Alt+F1 is a popular shortcut in applications. One of the first things I necessarily do after a new installation is disabling Alt+F1 and changing Alt+F2 because I’m used to using these key combinations in two-panel file managers.

I filed

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