If you’re using the free alternative to Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, and you like using keyboard shortcuts, you can customize the shortcuts in each LibreOffice program and for all LibreOffice programs in general.

However, customizing the keyboard shortcuts if not completely intuitive. So, we’ll show you how to customize the shortcuts and save and load your custom keyboard shortcut configurations.

To customize the keyboard shortcuts, open any LibreOffice program, such as Writer, and go to Tools > Customize.

On the Customize dialog box, click the “Keyboard” tab.

The Keyboard tab allows you to customize keyboard shortcuts in the current program or in all LibreOffice programs using the radio buttons in the upper-right corner of the dialog box. The radio button for the current program (in our example, Writer) is selected by default.

For our example, we will change a keyboard shortcut that is available in all LibreOffice programs, so we select “LibreOffice”.

The Shortcut Keys box displays all the shortcut keys available (the left column) and the functions applied to certain shortcut keys (the right column). If there is no function listed for a certain shortcut key, that shortcut key is available to assign to a function.

Customizing the shortcut keys can be a bit confusing. You might think you should choose the shortcut key you want to change in the Shortcut Keys box and then click Modify to change it. But, that’s not how this works.

All the functions in the LibreOffice programs (or in the current program, if you selected the current program above) are listed in the Functions section at the bottom of the dialog box. To customize a shortcut key for a specific function, first select the Category and then the Function in the Functions section. Any currently assigned shortcut keys for the selected function are listed in the Keys box and the first one in the list, or the only one, is automatically highlighted in the Keys box and in the Shortcut Keys box above.

NOTE: You may have to do some searching through the categories and functions, because, unfortunately, they do not match exactly with the structure of the menus in the LibreOffice programs. For example, we’re going to change the shortcut key for the Print Preview command, which is on the File menu in the programs, but is under the View Category on the Customize dialog box.

Once you’ve selected the function you want to customize in the Functions section, select the different shortcut key you want to assign to that function in the Shortcut Keys box and then click “Modify”.

The newly selected shortcut key is assigned to the selected function. There is no confirmation for this action.

Notice that there are now two shortcut keys for Print Preview in our example. You can assign more than one shortcut key for a function by selecting multiple shortcut keys in the Shortcut Keys box (one after the other, not at the same time) and clicking “Modify” for each one. However, for our example, we want to delete the original shortcut key (Ctrl+Shift+O) and only use the new one (Ctrl+Shift+P). To do that, we select the original shortcut key in either the Shortcut Keys box or in the Keys box in the Functions section, and then click “Delete”.

Now, we only have one shortcut key for the selected function.

You can save your custom shortcut keys in a configuration file for reloading later on another computer, or if you reinstall LibreOffice on the same computer. To save your custom configuration file, go to Tools > Customize (if the Customize dialog box is not currently open) to open the Customization dialog box.

NOTE: Remember how we selected whether to change shortcut keys for the current program (e.g., Writer) or for all LibreOffice programs (LibreOffice) using the radio buttons in the upper-right corner of the dialog box? Note which option is selected when saving your configuration. It’s important when you want to load a configuration file at a later time.

Click “Save”.

On the Save Keyboard Configuration dialog box, navigate to where you want to save the configuration file and enter a name for the file in the “File name” box. You may want to include in the name whether this is for a specific LibreOffice program or for all LibreOffice programs. Then, click “Save”.

Now that you saved your custom shortcut keys configuration, you can reload your custom configuration on another PC.

NOTE: Again, remember the radio buttons in the upper-right corner of the dialog box that allow you to specify whether you’re changing shortcut keys for the current program (e.g., Writer) or for all LibreOffice programs (LibreOffice)? Make sure the same option is selected that was selected when you saved the configuration file. Otherwise, your custom configuration will not load correctly. This is where it would be helpful if the option that was selected when you saved the configuration file was added to the file name so you know which option to select when loading that configuration file.

To load a saved configuration file, click “Load”.

On the Load Keyboard Configuration dialog box, navigate to where you saved your custom configuration file, select the file and click “Open”.

Your previously saved shortcut keys configuration is loaded and your custom shortcut keys are available.

Lastly, if you want to revert your changes to the shortcut keys, you can reset them to the defaults.

You’ll notice there are two Reset buttons on the Customize dialog box. The Reset button in the Shortcut Keys section allows you to reset that section to the defaults while preserving your selection in the Functions section. This allows you to easily change your selection in the Shortcut Keys box, even if you had added multiple shortcut keys to the selected function. The list of Keys in the Functions section may not reflect the change right away, but once you make another selection after resetting your previous selection(s) and click “Modify”, the list of Keys updates.

However, if you click “Reset” in the Shortcut Keys section and then immediately click “OK” to close the Customize dialog box, the Functions section is updated to match the Shortcut Keys list the next time you open the Customize dialog box.

When you click on the Reset button at the bottom of the dialog box, the selections on the whole dialog box reset to the default settings, even the LibreOffice and Writer radio buttons at the top.

When assigning shortcut keys to functions, make sure you don’t use shortcut keys that are used by your operating system. These are different for each operating system. If you discover you have assigned a shortcut key used in your system to a function in LibreOffice, you can always delete that shortcut key from the function, as we described here, and select a different shortcut key.

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Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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