Category Archives: Switching

Going back to the previous workspace

Eugeni Dodonov has asked for a keybinding to return to the previous workspace. For example, if you were on workspace 1 and switched to workspace 2, then pressing this key would jump back to workspace 1. Pressing it again would jump to workspace 2. Apparently this is a standard keybinding in xfwm4. This is GNOME […]

Switching between workspaces

Metacity allows you to keep your windows on workspaces.  You can have between one and 36 of them.  (The number 36 is rather arbitrary; it’s described as “a fixed maximum to prevent making the desktop unusable by accidentally asking for too many workspaces.“) You can switch between these workspaces either by using the switcher applet, […]

The order of windows in alt-tab

When you press alt-tab under Metacity, the windows you see in the switcher are displayed in most-recently-used (MRU) order, except that minimised windows are always sorted to the end, and urgent (“needs attention”) windows are sorted to the beginning. A comment in the source describes this as “Windows sellout mode”. In a recent blog post, […]

Alt-Tab over all workspaces

At the moment, when you press alt-Tab, you cycle through a list of windows on the current workspace.  People use workspaces in many ways, though; some people keep only one application maximised on each workspace.  Very many people have asked for the ability to alt-Tab between windows on all workspaces, not just the current one. […]


In the comments to a previous post, we were asked about implementing tabs in the window manager.  Calum pointed out that the HIG recommends against applications adding their own document-level tabs on the grounds that this is a job for the window manager.  Yet the window manager has never risen to the challenge, and very […]

Squib of the day: make the menu shorter

Someone who believed the system menu should be shorter raised GNOME bug 126674.  The basic idea is that the options in the system menu which move the window to adjacent workspaces and to workspaces given their number are unwieldy and complicated. Since these options all move windows, and since there is an existing manual move […]

Squib of the day: Window paths

It’s suggested in GNOME bug 82567 that Metacity could allow a left-click on the titlebar to launch a menu which allowed the user to navigate to the parent, grandparent, or further ancestor of the window.  This would only make sense where the window could represent a container which itself was contained in some other container […]

Squib of the day: Workspaces should switch instantaneously, or not

When GNOME bug 86590 was born, it was a request to make workspaces switch instantaneously when you panned around them using the workspace switcher with ctrl+alt+arrow. Then that was fixed, and someone else complained that it was too slow, and inconsistent with the alt+tab popup, which doesn’t switch until you let go of alt.  They […]

Squib of the day: Drag and drop should work properly

In GNOME bug 80984 (closely related to GNOME bug 76672), someone is asking for the window manager to help out with drag-and-drop.  The problem is that a drag-and-drop operation should not raise the window it begins in, because raising that window could obscure the window you’re planning to drop the object into. This is a […]

Squib of the day: keys for windows

GNOME bug 97725 raises the interesting idea of associating keys with windows.  Two differing approaches have been advocated: Have a set of keys which work to “bookmark” windows, and a corresponding set of keys which mean “jump to bookmark n“. Have a keystroke which means “bookmark this window using the key I’m about to press”, […]