Use More Than Four Workspaces In Ubuntu 12.04

One advantage that Linux has had (for quite a few years), over both Windows and Mac OS X is the implementation of workspaces. With workspaces, it’s possible to keep windows from different applications on their own “space” but have quick access to everything with just a keyboard combination or click of the mouse button.

This is very useful for people who tend to keep a large number of applications running at once. This often leads to the user having a monitor which is very cluttered.

Cluttered Workspace

Now, a user can open an application then move it to a different workspace; this allows the user to keep different “jobs” separate (work-related programs on one workspace, social networking on another, while music and videos play on a third workspace). In Ubuntu, you can access your workspaces in two different ways. You can click the Workspaces icon in the Ubuntu dock to open up the Workspace view.

Click Workspace Icon on Dock

You can also hit the Super-s keyboard combination. In either instance, you’ll now see the two-by-two grid mentioned above.

Workspaces in Use

Each “thumbnail” represents one workspace. Simply double-click the workspace you want to switch to, or if you want, you can drag windows or programs from one workspace to the next.

In versions of Ubuntu prior to 12.04 (and in Kubuntu, which uses KDE), it was possible to have as many workspaces as you wanted. However, with the release of Ubuntu 12.04, the user is now limited to only four (arranged in a two by two grid, as shown above). In reality, the feature for 4+ workspaces is still available, but the setting has been removed.

So, what if the user wants more workspaces? There are actually a number of ways to go about this. We’ll be using Ubuntu Tweak, but if you’re a fan of MyUnity or even the CompizConfig Settings Manager, you can go that route. To use Ubuntu Tweak, we’ll first need to install it; to do this we’ll use the Terminal.

Open Terminal

Now type sudo apt-add-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa to add the Ubuntu Tweak repository.


Now type sudo apt-get update to update your software lists. This will make your system “aware” of any potential updates, as well as software in the new personal package archive (PPA).

Update Software Lists

Finally, you can install Ubuntu Tweak by typing sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak.

Install Ubuntu Tweak

Once Ubuntu Tweak is installed, go ahead and open it.

Open Ubuntu Tweak

After a bit, you will see the main Ubuntu Tweak overview window.

Ubuntu Tweak Window

Click the Tweaks tab to see all the available options.

Click Tweaks Tab

The workspace settings can be found, surprisingly enough, by clicking the Workspace option. Do that now.

Click Workspace Button

By default, as shown earlier, you have four workspaces, aligned in a two-by-two grid. That setting looks like this.

Default Workspace Settings

To change it, simply move the slider. Below you’ll see that we’ve given ourselves four workspaces horizontally, and three vertically, for a total of twelve instead of four. The settings allow us to give ourselves as many as 16 in either direction.

New Workspace Settings

The changes take place immediately. You can go ahead and quit Ubuntu Tweak (or leave it open in case you want to change your setting immediately). In our case, hitting Super-s brings up the new workspaces… all twelve of them.

Four-By-Three Workspaces

As you can see, some of the workspaces are brighter than others. Only those workspaces with active windows in them are bright. The rest are dim. You can “activate” a new workspace simply by dragging a window into it.

It’s that simple. While you probably don’t need 256 workspaces (16 horizontal and 16 vertical), they’re there if you want them. Still, if you just wanted to “up” your workspace number by a handful, now you can.

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