XFCE display switching (dual & single monitor)

2 minute read

It’s been a long time since I don’t write neither in English nor about computer related stuff. It’s not that I stopped doing things but was a bit lazy about posting them here.

Anyway, a few days ago I bout a new monitor tired of working in a 12’’ screen. I connected it and nothing happened, i mean, there was no signal output so, as usual, I prompted out a terminal and used that wonderful tool called xrandr. Perfect! I worked like a charm until I disconnected it and realized I have no output trough my laptop screen, dammit! and as my key-combination wasn’t working I had to restart it.

I found that xfce4-settins-manager -> keyboard -> application shortcuts were supposed to launch xfce4-display-settings –minimal which did nothing so, instead of that, based on a script I found in the web (see below) I coded a small script, gave it execution permissions and asigned it to my preferred shortcut (XF86Display - Fn+F7 in my Thinkpad X61s). [caption id=”attachment_1164” align=”aligncenter” width=”450” caption=”Keyboard shortcuts”]Keyboard shortcuts[/caption]

Here is the script, working perfectly: [sourcecode language=”bash”] #!/bin/sh

Based on the script from


Will do a cycling output from state 0 to 2 and use a sound as feedback

State VGA LVDS Beeps

0 0 1 1

1 1 0 2

2 1 1 3

(back to state 0)

#For identifying our monitors use xrandr tool and view output LVDS=LVDS1 # could be another one like: LVDS, LVDS-1, etc VGA=VGA1 # could be another one like: VGA, VGA-1, etc EXTRA=”–right-of $LVDS” # addtional info while dual display

Lets check both LVDS and VGA state from the string “$display connected (“

xrandr | grep -q “$LVDS connected (“ && LVDS_IS_ON=0 || LVDS_IS_ON=1 xrandr | grep -q “$VGA connected (“ && VGA_IS_ON=0 || VGA_IS_ON=1

Output switch cycle

if [ $LVDS_IS_ON -eq 1 ] && [ $VGA_IS_ON -eq 1 ]; then #Go to state 0 -> just LVDS xrandr –output $LVDS –auto xrandr –output $VGA –off beep elif [ $LVDS_IS_ON -eq 1 ]; then #Go to state 1 -> just VGA xrandr –output $LVDS –off xrandr –output $VGA –auto beep && beep elif [ $VGA_IS_ON -eq 1 ]; then #Go to state 2 -> both outputs xrandr –output $LVDS –auto xrandr –output $VGA –auto $EXTRA beep && beep && beep else #This should never be reached but just in case.. xrandr –output $LVDS –auto beep && beep && beep && beep fi [/sourcecode]

As you might already guessed, that script will only work as long as you are logged in a Desktop System (XFCE, Gnome, KDE…) and running the daemon listening to your shortcuts. But there’s no problem, you could also use it from a terminal if you assign it to your acpi event (see this) if you previously know which event is being launched on your combination (use acpid_listen).

Hope it helps!