The GNOME Debian GUI comes with a wide range of keyboard shortcuts that can be used to perform routine operations and increase productivity. It saves a lot of time spent navigating with mouse, keyboard and menus.

If you were using the Windows operating system, you may have used Ctrl+Alt+Del to restart and shut down your system. Even in older Linux distributions, the same key combination is used for rebooting and shutting down. However, in the newer versions of Linux, the default Ctrl+Alt+Del is changed to only allow you to log off.

In this article we will explain how to use the Ctrl+Alt+Del key combination for the same old function, i.e. to shut down your Debian system. This includes the following steps:

  • Disable the Ctrl+Alt+Del shortcut for logging out.
  • Create a custom shortcut for shutting down.

We have used the Debian10 system for running the commands and procedures mentioned in this article.

Step 1: Disable Ctrl+Alt+Del shortcut for logging out

In this step, we will disable the Ctrl+Alt+Del that is the default shortcut used for logging out in Debian system. We will specify some other shortcut for logging out. To do so, we will need to open the Settings utility in the keyboard view. Go to the Activities tab on the top left corner of your desktop. In the search bar, type keyboard shortcut. When the results appear, click on it to launch as follows:

Keyboard Shortcut

When opened, you will see the following view :

Shortcut list

Scroll down to find out Log out option in the System category.

Logout shortcut

When you click on the Log out option, a Set Shortcut dialog box will appear. enter a key combination of your choice. For instance, I am setting here Ctrl+Alt+G as a new shortcut.

Once done, click on the Set button.

Enter new shortcut

Now you can log out from the system using the new shortcut key instead of the default shortcut Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Ctrl+Alt+Delete is now available to be used as a custom shortcut.

Step 2: Create Ctrl+Alt+Del as a custom shortcut for shutting down

Now in this step, we will create a new shortcut for shutting down using Ctrl+Alt+Delete. In the same keyboard shortcut window, scroll down to the lower bottom and click on the + sign to open the Add Custom Shortcut dialog box. Enter here a name for a new shortcut e.g Shutdown. In the command field, type gnome-session-quit –power-off.

Create new poweroff shortcut

Then click on Set Shortcut button and press Ctrl+Alt+Del keys simultaneously and click Add. Once done, you will see the following view:

Set Shortcut button

Click the x button to switch back to the Settings window. Here you will see the recently added shortcut in the Custom Shortcuts list as shown below.

New custom shutdown shortcut

Our new shortcut is now ready to use. Press Ctrl+Alt+Del and you will see the Power Off dialog box. Click on the Power Off button to power off your system. In case, you want to cancel the power off process, click on the Cancel button. If you do not click any of the buttons, the system will power off automatically after 60 seconds.


That is all there is to it! Now you can use the same old shortcut Ctrl+Alt+Del for shutting down your system. The same procedure can also be used for creating other shortcuts.

Use Ctrl+Alt+Delete for shutting down instead of logging out on Debian