Cannot alt + tab out of fullscreen games

Bug #63245 reported by fatsheep
This bug affects 39 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
metacity (Ubuntu)
Ubuntu Desktop Bugs

Bug Description

This bug happens on Ubuntu Dapper 64-bit running the GNOME desktop environment. I have not tested it on Edgy or KDE.

When running some full screen games, the ALT+TAB shortcut will not minimize the window and you are forced to exit in order to return to the desktop. Full screen games I have found this to be true in include Tremulous (, Nexuiz (, Wolfenstein Enemy Territory, and Unreal Tournament 2004 (


1. Open up one of the above listed games.
2. Attempt to minimize the game with the ALT + TAB shortcut.

description: updated
Revision history for this message
Matti Lindell (mlind) wrote :

It would be nice to have standard, non-hacky way of minimizing fullscreen windows, maybe built-in metacity or similar approach. I've been using patched libsdl library which prevents key-grabbing of ALT+TAB and does the minimize stuff, but this only works for few games (which use libsdl).

+1 from me.

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fatsheep (jesse-fatsheep-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Any ideas on getting a responce for this bug report?

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Jan Niklas Hasse (jhasse) wrote :
Changed in metacity:
status: Unconfirmed → Confirmed
Changed in metacity:
status: Unknown → Confirmed
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Martin Doucha (next-ghost) wrote :

What Tremulous version is in apt? 1.1.0 doesn't support Alt+Tab, TJW's backport client does.

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Laryllan (laryllan) wrote :

This is a very annoying "feature".
I really hope that there will ne a fix.

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Stevie (stevie1) wrote :

count me in.
this should be absolutely standard!

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Marnanel Thurman (marnanel) wrote :

I'm working on some focus issues at present and I hope that this will be one of them. (It's the expected_focus_window problem again.)

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Chris (chrw) wrote :

Though this bug report is quite old already I still hope there can be a fix sometime.

This bug is associated with metacitiy, but it affects KWin and any other window manager that I know and tried some time ago as well, so I assume that the place to fix it might be Xorg, rather than the window manager, but in the second case I'd hope for a solution for Kwin as well.

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Nickpick (joen-d) wrote :


Definitely a big issue. I can confirm this for Savage 2 and Uplink.

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scrawl (scrawl-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

Stil existing. But I think it's not an issue of metacity, but of SDL. Here is a patch for it

Changed in metacity (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Triaged
Revision history for this message
Harry Sufehmi (harry-sufehmi) wrote :

Hi, I just found a way to ALT-TAB from Wolfenstein : Enemy Territory to the Gnome Desktop.
Here's how :

(1) Switch to Windowed Mode : pressing Alt-Enter usually works

(2) Activate the console : by pressing the ` (backtick?) key

(3) Now you can press ALT-TAB to your Gnome Desktop

I don't know why, but my guess is activating the console also releases its grab on mouse & keyboard. So then you can ALT-TAB to your desktop.

Since Wolfenstein is based on Quake-engine; my guess is you can do this trick too on other games based on that engine.

Hope it helps someone.

Changed in metacity:
importance: Unknown → Medium
Revision history for this message
Bhaavan Merchant (bhaavanmerchant) wrote :

+1 from me also.

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Izon (izon1453) wrote :

I have the same problem on Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity3D.

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José Lou Chang (obake) wrote :

I am experiencing this problem on Ubuntu Precise with Unity 3D

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Nicolas Vanhoren (OpenERP) (niv-openerp) wrote :

Bug still appears in Ubuntu 12.04...

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phill1978 (phill1978) wrote :

this is quite unbelievable that on the eve of gaming on linux we still cant ALT-TAB from full screen applications !?!

same on gnome, cinnamon, mint 13 /14

this could drive a lot of people away. why on earth has this been an issue since 2006 :/

Revision history for this message
Victor Mello (victormmello) wrote :

Since Steam is now on linux, and Ubuntu is the recommended distro, this could be treated with more interest/importance.
A lot of people/gamers have/will come to Ubuntu, and at some time will face this issue.

Revision history for this message
Amardhruva (amaramardhruva) wrote :

still appears in 14.04 in 0ad, xonotic

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