How to easily add preferred keyboard shortcuts to Unity lenses

Ubuntu ships by default Unity, a powerful, polished and full-of-functionality interface, interface that incorporates a top bar (Unity panel), an intuitive user-friendly launcher, etc, as well as the Dash, fancy overlay that houses lenses.

Ubuntu comes (by default) with numerous lenses, presenting the user a wide range of functionalities, such as accessing applications, searching for files, observing the latest accessed images, playing music tracks (directly from the Dash), locating Twitter tweets, etc.

Furthermore, there are numerous third-party lenses (such as Wikipedia lens, Help lens, GitHub lens, Filesystem Tree lens, etc), third-party lenses that widely enlarge Unity's default set of features.

Nevertheless, while lenses provide diverse and powerful content types, having installed and activated numerous lenses (such as 10 lenses or more), the user may perceive the Dash as a labyrinth, in the sense of when "searching"/locating a lens icon on the lens bar (especially for keyboard users).

Accessing a lens is as simple as clicking on the Ubuntu logo (BFB) and again clicking on a lens icon from the lens bar, latter action that summons the desired lens.

Yet, especially in cases like users rooted into keyboard-usage, multiple lenses may tend to slow down one's naturally-fast Dash workflow, in situations like identical keyboard shortcuts (or inexistent) for installed lenses.

Modifying a (or adding a new) keyboard shortcut for a lens (under Ubuntu 12.10) is an action that can be performed in a matter of seconds:

  • type in a terminal

    gksu nautilus

  • then (via the newly-opened Nautilus window) navigate to /usr/share/unity/lenses
  • the above action exposes installed lenses

  • if the selected lens is Unity Files & Folders lens, open the files folder, then open the files.lens file
  • in order to modify a shortcut and/or add a new shortcut, edit and/or create the Shortcut field
  • adding the y letter to Shortcut, equals the ability to open the Files & Folders lens via Super+y (not Super+Y)
  • saving the text file and log out/log in adds the new keyboard shortcut to Unity