How to Enable Touchpad Gestures in Ubuntu 22.04 on Xorg Session

Last updated: June 5, 2022 — 1 Comment

The built-in touchpad gestures refuse to work after switched to Xorg session in Ubuntu 22.04? Here’s how to re-enable this feature in 2 ways.

The GNOME desktop introduced cool 3-finger touchpad gestures to switch desktop and trigger overview since v40. However, it only works on Wayland session.

Ubuntu 22.04 defaults to GNOME 42 on Wayland. For some reasons, user may need to switch back the classic Xorg session, which however miss the multi-touch gestures support.

Method 1: Use touchegg & X11 gestures extension

Touchégg is a free and open-source Linux multi-touch gesture recognizer. Using it along with an extension can get totally same 3-finger gestures in Xorg:

  • 3-finger up/down to trigger ‘Activities’ overview, or go back.
  • 3-finger left/right to switch desktop workspaces.

1. Firstly, install Touchegg

The software package is available in Ubuntu repository, which however is old and does not work in my case. So, the steps below will tell you how to install it from its official Ubuntu PPA.

a.) Press Ctrl+Alt+T on keyboard to open terminal. When it opens, run the command below to add the PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:touchegg/stable

Type user password when it asks and hit Enter to continue.

b.) After adding the PPA, install touchegg via command:

sudo apt install touchegg

Ubuntu now updates package cache automatically while adding PPA, if not, run sudo apt update command to do it manually.

After installation, touchegg should run silently as a background service. To verify it, run command:

systemctl status touchegg.service

2. Install X11 gestures extension

Once touchegg service is running, you can install the X11 gestures extension to enable the 3-finger gestures! To do this in Ubuntu 22.04, follow the steps below one by one.

a.) Firstly, press Ctrl+Alt+T on keyboard to open terminal. When it opens, run command to install Extension Manager app:

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-manager

b.) Next, click top-left ‘Activities’ and then search for and launch the tool from overview screen.

c.) Finally, navigate to “Browse” tab, search for and install “X11 gestures” extension.

3-finger gestures work immediately after properly installed Touchégg and X11 gestures extension in my case. If not for you, try log-out and back in or restart your computer.

How to Uninstall Touchégg and X11 gestures extension:

To remove the software package, simply run the command below in a terminal window (Ctrl+Alt+T):

sudo apt install remove --autoremove touchegg

And, remove the PPA via command:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:touchegg/stable

For the extension, remove it via Extension Manager installed via the previous step.

Method 2: GNOME X11 gesture daemon + Gesture Improvements extension

If the default 3-finger gestures is not enough, then the “Gesture Improvements” extension adds more:

  • 3-finger left/right switch app windows, just like Alt+Tab shortcut does.
  • 3-finger up/down resize current app window.
  • 4-finger up/down and left/right to trigger overview and switch workspaces.
  • 3-finger and 4-finger pinch gestures.
  • And per-app gestures.

1. Install GNOME X11 gesture daemon

The extension works in both Wayland and Xorg sessions. For the latter, the GNOME X11 gesture daemon is required.

a.) Firstly, download the daemon package from its github releases page:

b.) Then, extract the zip in file manager. Right-click on result folder and select “Open in Terminal”:

c.) The context menu option will open a terminal window and automatically navigate to the folder as working directory. After that, run command to add current user to ‘input’ group:

sudo usermod -aG input $USER

Then, run the installer script to install the daemon:

sh install.sh --restart

After installation, it should run silently in background as a user level service. To verify, run command:

systemctl --user status gesture_improvements_gesture_daemon.service

2. Install Gesture Improvements extension:

Like “Method 1”, you may install the extension manager firstly by running command in terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T):

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-manager

Then, search for and install “Gesture Improvements” via Extension manager tool.

You can finally configure the extension preferences under “Installed” tab:

‘Gesture Improvements’ extension preferences

NOTE: Method 2 needs a system restart to make multi-touch gestures work in my case.

Uninstall:

To remove the daemon package, re-do step “b.)” to open terminal and run the uninstall script:

sh uninstall.sh

And remove “Gesture Improvements” via Extension Manager tool.

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