It is hard to visualize which application is selected on scale/spread mode (<super>+<w>) on Ubuntu Unity

Reported by Keitai on 2012-01-28
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ayatana Design
Compiz Core
compiz (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

My setup: Ubuntu 11.04 - the Natty Narwhal. I did not change any configuration of Unity after installing the system.

Whenever I press <super>+<w> I can see all open applications side by side. If I click any of the windows I can switch to the corresponding application. All that is working perfectly.

I just realised that instead of using the mouse to select another window, I can use the arrow keys on my keyboard to select which window I want to switch to. Once I the window I want to switch to is selected, I can hit <enter> and switch to the selected window.

There is an extremely subtle difference between the selected window and the others. The selected window looks like it got the focus and the upper menu shows the window title.

My complaint is simply that this difference between the selected window and the others is just too subtle.

It should be much more easy to identify which window is selected during expo mode. I suggest adding some sort of glow behind the selected window, adding a frame around the selected window, or dimming the other windows. This feature should be easy to implement and would greatly enhance the usability of the expo mode.

Keitai (keitai-1948) wrote :

<alt>+<tab> shows a frame around the selected window, which makes it very easy to visualise where the "cursor" or "selection" is. Expo mode could do something similar.

tags: added: needs-design
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
Changed in unity:
status: New → Incomplete

Yes, the current implementation in 12.04 provides no clues to app
identity, and omits the window title. Both need to be addressed, mockups


No mockup necessary - with the right combination of compiz plugins, both app identity and the currently selected window are revealed. You will need the compiz-plugins-extra package and CompizConfig Settings Manager.

App identity:
- Set "Overlay Icon" to "Emblem" in the Scale plugin.
- Set "Window Title Display" to "All Windows" in the Scale Addons plugin.

Selected window:
- Check "Draw Window Highlight".
- Set "Highlight Colour" to Ubuntu Orange (or whatever your preference).

See attached my desktop and approximation of Ubuntu Orange (it's more Ubuntu Tangerine).

Gary M (garym) on 2012-05-01
Changed in unity:
status: Incomplete → Confirmed
Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → Confirmed
Keitai (keitai-1948) wrote :

Configuration as in willheslam's message works but it is still not fine for two reasons:

1) This configuration should come as default, as ordinary users will find it hard to find. It is not easy to guess, based on configuration variable names, which variable will control the behavior of expo mode.

2) Even after configuring according to willheslam, only the selected window is highlighted. This is counter intuitive as non-selected windows look as if they are in normal view. In other words, highlighting should be the opposite and be called a "shading", used to obscure non-selected windows. Still, the look of <ALT>+<TAB> works better, since a rectangle around the window clearly shows where the selection is.

William Heslam (willheslam) wrote :

Keitai: while I agree with your points, it looks like "The Spread" will solve this problem more generally - the only problem with it as far as I can see is that we'll have to wait 6 months!

Keitai (keitai-1948) wrote :

@ willheslam: I see. In this case it seems reasonable to wait for "The Spread" (which I hope will address this and many other usability concerns) to give us a more definite solution coherent with the overall experience of the shell.

If the costs of implementing this feature are not reasonable, considering that "The Spread" addresses the same issue, then my suggestion would be to simply use the configuration you suggested at message #3 as default. Having a new default configuration should be something simple to implement.

Although the issue we are discussing here at first may look as a minor usability difficulty, my understanding about the philosophy behind Unit is that users will be encouraged to make better use of their keyboards to navigate through the desktop (mostly via <super>). Then it seems reasonable that <super> + <w> will be followed by window selection made using the keyboard.

summary: - It is hard to visualize which application is selected on expo mode
- (<super>+<w>) on Ubuntu Unity
+ It is hard to visualize which application is selected on scale/spread
+ mode (<super>+<w>) on Ubuntu Unity
affects: unity → compiz-core
affects: unity (Ubuntu) → compiz (Ubuntu)
Changed in compiz:
status: New → Confirmed
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