focus follows mouse breaks desktop interaction

Bug #889145 reported by Reece on 2011-11-11
This bug report is a duplicate of:  Bug #674138: "Global" appmenu breaks sloppy focus. Edit Remove
This bug affects 18 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
unity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Environment: 11.10 x86_64, unity; focus follows mouse enabled with 'gconftool-2 --get /apps/metacity/general/focus_mode'

The problem: When there is at least one window open, the desktop doesn't get focus. Key presses go to the window and not the desktop.

To reproduce:
1) start with empty desktop
2) create an empty test folder (mouse 3>new folder)
3) open nautilus window. Move so that it doesn't obscure the test folder
4) select test folder on desktop. Leave mouse outside nautilus window.
5) type delete to delete the folder. The keypress is delivered to the nautilus window. (If anything was selected in the nautilus window, it was deleted instead of the test folder.)

Since Unity doesn't come with a configuration interface I'm unsure which user preferences are supported/intended by developers and which ones aren't. I'm assuming that Canonical intends users to be able to set prevalent preferences (such as focus follows mouse) since doing otherwise would create a profound user experience regression. Is that assumption correct?

Reece (reece) wrote :

Workaround: ctrl-alt-d shows desktop/hides windows. Focus is then given to desktop and one can delete a file (or whatever). ctrl-alt-d restores windows.

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Reece (reece) wrote :

Correction: I pasted the wrong command line to enable FFM. I meant 'gconftool-2 --type string --set /apps/metacity/general/focus_mode mouse'. See .

Didier Roche (didrocks) on 2011-11-22
Changed in unity:
status: New → Confirmed
indy (davide-ricci82) wrote :

I think this bug is related with the fact that closing a window, the window immediately under the pointer rise up:

Jouke (digigram) wrote :

confirmed this for 12.04 This is extremely annoying - have had to rescue things from the trash many times.

The problem is that the desktop never get's focus, unless all other windows are minimized. Just click on an icon on the desktop, while a window is open, the unity bar will always show the window having focus. Only after minimizing all windows the unitybar will show "Ubuntu Desktop" with the correct menu. I guess this is because if you do not have a window full screen, the global menu's can not be reached if you have focus follows mouse. It only illustrates the disaster of global menu's on a large screen. I guess with focus follow mouse, the desktop should not get focus, unless you click on it, and not as it is now, never get focus.

Hosed (liveonaware) wrote :

Yes this definitely affects me!

It's annoying, I started a Thread on this.

Until you find a way to get back focus on Ubuntu Desktop. It breaks Interaction!

Hosed (liveonaware) wrote :

Well for a workaround, you should include the icon " Show Desktop " - and everytime you need the desktop you should minimize all windows.

Hosed (liveonaware) wrote :

2nd workaround - you can USE UBUNTU 2D / or Unity 2D, that way, when you click on the Desktop, it will bring back interaction with the Desktop.

The only thing I don't like about Ubuntu 2D is that there's NO "Show Desktop" Icon, you can enable it here:

Also, If you don't like the icon sizes, do this:

Stephan Henningsen (zta77) wrote :

Still broken in Ubuntu 14.04. Please fix. It should be a simple matter of focusing the desktop just like any other window? Giving the desktop focus on default when no windows is under the mouse?

cipricus (cipricus) wrote :

In 14.04 - in many cases using Super+D focuses correctly on the desktop.

Stephan Henningsen (zta77) wrote :

Super+D doesn't just change the focus to the desktop -- it also hides all windows, which is not what I want. The focus should follow the mouse to the desktop. Not even clicking the desktop will give it focus! This is still a bug that must be fixed. I hope it's gone in 15.04...

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