Ubuntu: How do I lock the screen from a terminal?


I am using Ubuntu 12.04. Is there any way to lock the screen or session from a terminal command or script?

are there any changes happen in 13.04 ?



gnome-screensaver-command -l  

The following can also work, if the screensaver is set to lock when activate (see screensaver settings), since the command activates the screensaver:

gnome-screensaver-command -a  

You can add an alias to the command by editing the file .profile in your home directory:

gedit $HOME/.profile  

and adding the following line:

alias lock='gnome-screensaver-command -l'  

Then from terminal:

source .profile  

This will activate the alias. From now on, the alias lock in a terminal will have the effect of locking the screen.


In addition to what January said, this also works:

gnome-screensaver-command --lock  


gnome-screensaver-command -l  

According to the gnome-screensaver-command man page...

-l, --lock                 Tells the running screensaver process to lock the screen immediately  -a, --activate             Turn the screensaver on (blank the screen)  

For further clarification, here is another question/answer (also by January) which describes the differences between invoking the lock and activating your screensaver:

Difference between gnome-screensaver-command -a and gnome-screensaver-command -l


Please install vlock. Then you can switch to a VT (text terminal, using Ctrl+Alt+F1) and run

vlock -a -s  

This works whether you have X11 running or not.


In case that you need to lock the screen on a terminal in a non-GUI environment you could make use of screen

While in screen press the following key combinations to lock the terminal.

Ctrl + a

Ctrl + x


Starting in Ubuntu 14.04, Unity's lock screen no longer uses gnome-screensaver. The command gnome-screensaver-command -l will still work in most cases, but see this question for exceptions.

If that command does not work (say, for instance, that gnome-screensaver is not installed), bringing up the proper Unity lock screen (not the greeter where you can switch users) can be done via this command in a terminal:

dbus-send --type=method_call --dest=org.gnome.ScreenSaver /org/gnome/ScreenSaver org.gnome.ScreenSaver.Lock  


$!(sleep 10s ;  xset dpms force suspend) & xdg-screensaver lock  

this starts the screen saver in locked mode and then puts your display in standby. sweet and simple, no sudo. command line or shell script works fine. i use this for a keyboard hotkey. Ubuntu Mate 15.10


For LightDM users, try dm-tool switch-to-greeter.


A dirty hack of using the shortcut Ctrl+Alt+L for the locking the screen from a terminal:

  1. Install xdotool from the software center or from the terminal as follows:

    sudo apt-get install xdotool  
  2. Type the following to lock the screen from the terminal:

    xdotool key Ctrl+alt+l  

Refer to the manual page for xdotool for more.


It depends on your display manager. I have lightdm, I can do dm-tool lock to bring up a lock screen. It's not really secure, though, I found an easy way to bypass it.

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