There are times when I want to turn off the displays on my workstation, but not actually lock it. In this Linux quicktip we will show you how to turn your displays off using the command line. We will also show you how to use that command as a keyboard shortcut, or HotKey.

Turn Display Off From the Linux Command Line

To turn your display(s) off from the command line we will use the xset utility.

xset dpms force off

The xset utility allows you to change user preference options for the display. The dpms part is specific Energy Star parameters or options. We use force off to tell the system to instantly switch dpms to the off state.

Set Keyboard Shortcut to Turn Off Display

In Gnome you can easily create a shortcut to trigger this command.

First, go into setting by selecting the top right tray.

Gnome Setting Panel

From the settings menu, select "Keyboard Shortcuts".

Gnome Keyboard Shortcuts Settings Panel

Now scroll all the way to the bottom of the list. There you will find a plus sign at the bottom of the list that allows you to add your own custom shortcuts.

Gnome Keyboard Shortcuts Settings Panel showing how to add shortcut

When you click the plus sign you will be shown the "Add Custom Shortcut" window which requires some input. First, let's name it something relevant. For this example I named the shortcut "Display Off".

In the command section we will call the xset utiltiy, just as we did on the command line above.

Last, we need to set the shortcut. Just click it and then enter the key, or keys you want to use. For this example I chose Super+D, which is purposely close to Super+L, which I use all the time.

Gnome Add Custom Keyboard Shortcut Window

That's it, click the Add button and you are all set.


Now you can easily turn off your monitors from the Linux command line, or the Gnome Keyboard Shortcuts. We hope you found this quick tip helpful