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super-W and alt-tab are the normal ways in unity to see hidden windows on the desktop. That's interesting and sometimes effective, but inferior to other "textual" techniques.

When I have lots of windows (which is when I need help finding them), the views provided by super-W and alt-tab often make the windows too small to recognize. This leads to slow and annoying repeats of super-W or alt-tab.

In contrast, if it would display an icon with the name of the application (like "firefox", "nautilus", etc), that would be much more helpful. Now, it is true that often we have multiple instances of an application running, so the behavior should work like this: only one "firefox icon", but then below the "firefox icon" there should be one more icon for each instance of the application (with text that indicates which instance, like filename, web-address, etc).

Is there such an option or application?

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3 Answers 3

In CompizConfig Setting manager you can set overlay icons to the Scale windows plugin.

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You can even set a keyboard shortcut to display windows from just one workspace or for a group of windows of the same applications in the Bindings tab of Scale plugin.

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Plus there are a lot of alternatives in the Window Management section, just discover them and choose to one suites you more.

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You can use the ~ key to expand the icon while switching via alt+tab.

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interesting, but i would still prefer a separate application that does this better (in a textual way). –  honestann Jun 4 '12 at 6:51
    
This is awesome! I never knew that. Thank you. –  Malcolm Sep 13 '13 at 4:12

Now, a more 'textual way' should be that:

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Window-List applet is devloped by http://www.jameswigley.com/

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jwigley/window-list

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install window-list

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Looks great! But when I following your instructions (which seemed to work fine and without errors), then rebooted my computer, all that appeared was a completely empty desktop (except the usual 12.04 wallpaper was there). Thus my entire 64-bit ubuntu 12.04 installation is destroyed, and I'll have to perform a fresh install and try to remember how to configure all my applications. Sigh. :-( –  honestann Jun 6 '12 at 0:32
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I don't think an applet can do that. –  neonboy Jun 6 '12 at 13:40
    
Yeah, it surprised the hell out of me too! But it definitely happened. Probably there was nothing wrong with the OS, but since there was nothing to click on, there was nothing I could do, not even shutdown. I had to press the reset button on the computer. But it just booted back into a destop with nothing, not even the bar at the top. Eventually I had to give up and boot off another drive. Very strange to say the least. That applet looks cool, but now I'm too chicken to install it again on another system. Somehow it killed the window manager. –  honestann Jun 6 '12 at 14:49
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I've tested it and nothing happened, even Andrei talked about that today on his blog webupd8.org/2012/06/how-to-get-list-of-open-windows-on.html and seems it worked fine for him too. I'm sure watherver problem you've got it was just a unity crash and it could be solved by running --unity replace in a terminal without reinstalling the whole system, have you even tried to change session at login and recover? I think your re-installation was a bit impulsive, you could understand what happened before. –  neonboy Jun 6 '12 at 15:46

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