Launcher, make Alt-Tab behavior configurable: Raise all app windows or just the most recently focused

Bug #1055478 reported by Tom Wieczorek
This bug affects 16 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ayatana Design
unity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Feature request as suggested in

Please add a configuration option somewhere to toggle between behaviors when clicking on a launcher item or selecting an app in Alt-Tab:
 - Raise the most recently focused window
 - Raise all app windows

See also:

Tags: needs-design
tags: added: needs-design
Changed in unity:
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
Revision history for this message
WoodyEckelzone (bcr497) wrote :


I propose a more refined configuration option though
- Raise the most recently focused window (default)
- Raise all app windows for a user configurable list op applications.

When I develop in Chromium or Opera, with the browser on 1 screen and the debugger on the other, default behaviour really sucks. They are not separate instances but really belong together. I NEED to see BOTH with ALT TAB.
Same for Gimp in multi windows interface.
That's fundamentally different from LibreOffice with several documents for which default behaviour is fine.

I consider this as the biggest drawback of Unity, together with this:
Alt tab gives wrong amount open windows on multi monitor workspace

But last one one will practically be solved with above suggestion.

Revision history for this message
Tom Wieczorek (twz123) wrote :

That's exactly my use case, too. There are many apps that have one main "document" window and one or more dependent Tool/Inspector-Windows. The new default behavior drives me crazy ;)

Revision history for this message
Avian00 (avian00) wrote :

Add me to the list of people wishing for this feature. It is almost a daily frustration for me that not all windows from the app are raised.

Revision history for this message
David (dryrun) wrote :

I'd also like to request this functionality. I usually work with four terminal windows open, and switching between my code editor and the specific terminal window in which I'm running my code usually takes several keystrokes (e.g. one alt-tab to switch to the terminal application, and then one alt-` to find the correct terminal window) and at least 5 seconds of time. Contrast with the OSX-like alt-tab behavior, which takes about 1 second to find the correct terminal.

The problem is exacerbated by the alt-` graphical interface. The first alt-` shows all of the terminal windows in the current workspace, but the visual contrast between the windows is very minimal: just a slight red shadow, plus the text in the menu bar of the window. More dynamic graphics would really help, like enlarging the selected window, more color contrast (or even color vs. black and white), or blurring the non-selected windows.

Revision history for this message
Miguel Negrao (miguel-negrao) wrote :

I use an app (SuperCollider) with dozens of open windows at any time, it's crazy hard to get all the windows back in view !

Stephen M. Webb (bregma)
Changed in unity:
status: New → Triaged
Revision history for this message
BenE (b-essiambre) wrote :

Please make this a priority. This makes working with multiple terminals and apps such as GIMP quite a pain.

Revision history for this message
Pseudo-Nyme (pseudo-nyme) wrote :

Hi Unity community,

Please acknowledge that I am also +1ing this bug report. Bug #959339 says that Alt-Tabbing "should" only bring the more recently focused window: this is not true, what "should" happen depends on the user (for instance, some people wish to completely disable Alt-Tabbing altogether). In order to keep people satisfied with your software, you "should" properly distinguish between "by design" (objectivity) and "by config" (subjectivity).
Users like to customize their user interface, that is what "user configuration" is there for, remember? In the opinion of someone who never contributed to the Unity project, forcing (if I am not mistaken, the only way to customize the behavior is to re-compile Unity) users to always Alt-Tab to single windows is plainly stupid: obviously, some users want just one window, and some others want all windows.
If the bitter tone of this comment did not stop you from reading, please advise whether this bug is going to be fixed someday, or whether you intend to leave it as Triaged until the release of Ubuntu 57.04.

Best regards for your development efforts.

PS: if anyone knows a workaround besides recompiling Unity or using scripts with PIDs and window manager controls, I would be happy to hear about it.

Revision history for this message
Jim Hart (jim-o) wrote :

Count me in on the "all windows for an app" option. When running a bunch of things and switching between apps, it's a pain to find the right window. Alternatively, a Mac-like behavior, the F9 key that shows all open windows as separate thumbnails, would be acceptable.

Revision history for this message
fstriley (fred-cleanhands) wrote :

In complete agreement with Pseudo-Nyme. Please +1 this (several times). The behavior of only bringing the most recently focused window into view when Alt-Tab just started for me last week with a software update. I have a lot of windows open including a few terminals. I almost never want the most recently focused. It is driving me nuts trying the find the window I want. Please fix ASAP. Thanks.

Revision history for this message
Juan (jp-6) wrote :

+1 on this bug. It's very annoying to have two terms or file managers open and not be able to see them. Should work as on MacOS

Revision history for this message
Alex Baggott (alex-baggott) wrote :

As part of the big bug review for 16.04 LTS I have tested this on 15.10 and the bug is still there. I think this is a feature request rather than a bug.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Opinion
Changed in unity:
status: Triaged → Opinion
Revision history for this message
Pseudo-Nyme (pseudo-nyme) wrote :

Glad to see this moving forward anyhow. Cheers.

Revision history for this message
Rafael Richard (rafaelxy) wrote :

Is it moving forward tho? It is really a pain after years away from ubuntu community, I come back and this is still a issue. Not having the option to config this drives me crazy to a point I am considering getting rid of unity.

To post a comment you must log in.
This report contains Public information  
Everyone can see this information.

Other bug subscribers

Remote bug watches

Bug watches keep track of this bug in other bug trackers.