Ubuntu – How to minimize windows, only on a specific monitor


I have monitor and laptop screen and have a problem with the "Show desktop" function.

Laptop screen is showing widget that should stay for all the time. Main monitor is used normally.

Whenever I use keyboard shortcut (windows key + d in my case), all windows will be hidden but I only want to hide all the windows on the specific monitor.

Is this possible?

Question similar to https://superuser.com/questions/200945/how-can-i-make-the-show-desktop-function-only-hide-the-windows-on-a-specific-m, with notable difference that I ask about different OS.

Best Answer

Only minimize windows on one screen

The script below can be used to (only) minimize windows on the left screen or only on the right screen.

The script is run with either 1 or 2 as argument, depending on which screen you'd like to minimize the windows.

The script

#!/usr/bin/env python3
import subprocess
import sys

scr = sys.argv[1]

def get(cmd):
    return subprocess.check_output(cmd).decode("utf-8")

# find the right side of the left screen
edge = [int(s.split("x")[0]) for s in get("xrandr").split() if "+0+" in s][0]
# read the window list
wlist = [w.split() for w in get(["wmctrl", "-lG"]).splitlines()]
for w in wlist:
    # retrieve the window id and -position
    w_id = w[0]; xpos = int(w[2])
    # check the position of the window, decide action depending on arg.
    test = xpos < edge if scr == "1" else xpos >= edge
    if test:
        # check if the window is "normal" and / or minimized
        w_data = get(["xprop", "-id", w_id])
        if all([not "_NET_WM_STATE_HIDDEN" in w_data,
                    "_NET_WM_WINDOW_TYPE_NORMAL" in w_data]):
            subprocess.Popen(["xdotool", "windowminimize", w_id])

How to use

  1. The script needs both wmctrl and xdotool

    sudo apt-get install xdotool wmctrl
  2. Copy the script into an empty file, save it as min_screen.py

  3. To run it:

    python3 /path/to/min_screen.py 1

    to minimize windows on the left screen, and

    python3 /path/to/min_screen.py 2 

    to minimize windows only on the right screen

  4. If all works fine, add it to a shortcut key


  • The script assumes python3 is installed, but the code is not python3 specific I believe.
  • The script was written on Unity, but unlike workspaces (viewports), handling the screens should not make a difference.
  • The script will not minimize windows with pid 0 (Idle or other tkinterwindows for example). If that is an issue, please mention. Can be solved.


The script first looks up the right edge of the left screen, by looking up the string with +0+ in the output of xrandr, looking like:


The first section, 1680, is the widht of the left screen. Subsequently, all we have to do is look into the window list (wmctrl -lG) and see which of the windows is "below" or "above" 1680, and act accordingly, minimizing with the command xdotool windowminimize <window_id> (or not).

Th "test" finally (mmiz): xprop -id <window_id> is to check if we are dealing with a "normal" window (instead of e.g. your desktop, which is also listed as a window), and if the window is already minimized.

See also the comment in the script.

Binding the script to a keyboard shortcut

1. On Lubuntu

To edit global keyboard shortcuts in Lubuntu see Lubuntu minimize all show desktop keyboard shortcut?

In this case: save script from this answer into a file on the computer, make this file executable, open /.config/openbox/lubuntu-rc.xml and replace

  <keybind key="W-d">
    <action name="ToggleShowDesktop"/>


  <action name="Execute">
   <command>/path/to/show_desktop.py 1</command>

where /path/to/show_desktop.pyis (of course) the path to the script, and either 1 or 2 the targeted screen. Make the script executable.

Restart computer to reload config.

2. Unity/Gnome

Make the script executable and choose: System Settings > "Keyboard" > "Shortcuts" > "Custom Shortcuts". Click the "+" and add the command:

/path/to/show_desktop.py 1

...to a shortcut of your choice

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