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Most Windows and Mac computers support multi-touch gesture. For example, swiping up with three fingers will show you the desktop while swiping down the same way will reveal all the open Applications. Unfortunately, most Linux distros including Ubuntu, don’t support multi-touch gestures right out of the box. Although, two-finger scroll and double-tap works, it lacks the three-finger and four-finger gestures.

Scrolling through a bunch of GitHub repositories led me to libinput-gestures which worked perfectly on my Acer E5-575G laptop. I also found a couple of GUI based gestures app on the Ubuntu Software repository. So let’s see how you install and configure multi-touch gestures on Ubuntu.

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There are multiple multi-touch gesture apps present on GitHub and Ubuntu Software Center. Out of all those, these 2 apps worked flawlessly for me.

Apr 20, 2012 Without further ado, here’s a bunch of helpful gestures for Mac OS X and commonly used Mac apps Gestures for Finder, Mission Control, and Desktop. Push Windows Aside to Show Desktop – Four Finger Spread; Activate Mission Control – Four Finger Swipe up; Switch Desktops & Full Screen Apps – Three finger swipe left or right.

1. Extended Gestures

Ubuntu right-out-of the box supports scrolling gestures and double taps. With Extended gestures, you can extend that list to 3-finger and 4-finger swipe. You can download Extended Gestures from the Ubuntu Software Center. Once you have the app installed, launch it and you will be presented with the additional gestures it provides.

The app also lets you modify the swipe sensitivity. In my case, I have kept it to “1”. Since 0 sensitivity would require me to move my fingers through the entire trackpad.

Download Extended Gestures

2. libinput-gestures

libinput-gestures is a command-line utility for adding multi-touch gestures on your Ubuntu machine. It functions the same as Extended Gestures but offers far more gestures and granular controls. Before we begin with the installation, we need git and Python 3.0+ as the pre-requisites. Luckily, Ubuntu already comes installed with Python. But we need to make sure the version is 3.0+. So, to check your Python version use the following command.

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In case the command gives an error, you don’t have python 3.0 installed. To install that, run the following command.


After you have python and git installed, we can proceed towards installing libinput-gestures. However, libinput-gestures need to read your touchpad device and for that, your user account to be part of the “input” user group. Run the following command to add yourself to the input user group. You can manually replace it with some other id if you want to add libinput-gesture

Here, $USER is an environment variable whose value is your user id. After the command has completed successfully, restart your system for the changes to take effect.

After the restart, we need to install wmctrl and libinput-tools. wmctrl allows a program to interact with a window which is required by libinput-gestures to minimize windows and applications. To install both of them, run the following commands.

After the successful installation of libinput-tools and wmctrl, we can finally proceed to install libinput-gestures. Run the following commands to install the utility.

The git clone command will copy all the files from GitHub and place it under your home directory. Next command installs libinput-gestures from the downloaded directory.

After we have the files in place, we need to start the libinput-gestures application plus configure it to autostart every time. For that, use the following commands in respective order.

Once done, the libinput-gesture will map the three-finger swipe up gesture to go to Desktop and the three-finger swipe down on the desktop to go to the previous app. You can also pinch in and out to reach the app overview menu.

Make sure you perform the pinch-in and pinch-out at the center of the trackpad to get accurate results.

You get few default gestures with the app like the three-finger swipe and pinch-to-zoom. You can also modify or add other gestures like swipe right_up, swipe left_up, etc. To do that, we need to modify the libinput-gestures.conf file. So, run the following command

This command will open the configuration file wherein you can add or modify gesture actions. For example, I have mapped the Ctrl+Tab shortcut to the left-swipe-up gesture. This lets me quickly switch tabs in chrome with just a left-swipe-up on the trackpad.

Closing Word

These gesture apps primarily map keyboard shortcut to a trackpad action. It won’t be as fluid as on macOS or Windows but nonetheless is a good workaround. For more Ubuntu articles, check out our articles on best PDF editor for Ubuntu and best open-source network monitoring tools for Linux.

For any issues or queries, let me know in the comments below.

Open Mission Control

  • Swipe up with three or four fingers on your trackpad, or double-tap the surface of your Magic Mouse with two fingers.
  • Open the Mission Control app, which is in your Applications folder.
  • Press the Mission Control key on your Apple keyboard or Touch Bar.

Add spaces and switch between them

The Spaces bar at the top of the Mission Control window contains thumbnails of each desktop space and each window that is in full screen or Split View.

To add a space, move your pointer to the Spaces bar, then click the add button on the right:

When you have multiple spaces, you can switch between them by clicking the thumbnails the top of the Mission Control window. Or use these methods, which work even when you're not in Mission Control:

  • Swipe left or right with three or four fingers on your trackpad, or swipe left or right with two fingers on your Magic Mouse.
  • Press Control–Right Arrow or Control–Left Arrow on your keyboard.

Move windows to spaces

When you have more than one space, you can move windows to and from each space. Just drag the window onto the other space's thumbnail in the Spaces bar.

If you drag a window onto an empty area of the Spaces bar, that window opens in full screen in its own new space:

If you drag a window onto the thumbnail of a full-screen app, that window joins the other window in Split View:

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Move or remove spaces

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To move a space, drag its thumbnail to the left or right of another space in the Spaces bar.

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What is mac. To remove a space, press and hold the Option key, then click or next to the space's thumbnail in the Spaces bar. Any windows in that space then automatically move to your first desktop space.