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Is there a command for the “Workspace Switcher”?

Easy workspace switching has always been one of the strongest feature of linux. It's a huge productivity boost not unlike having multiple monitors but without the need to carry a large desk and monitors with you all the time :-) Good implementations have existed in different desktop environments since the early 90s.

I thought OSX was catching up when they came up with 'spaces' but they made this very slow two steps plus animations process that made working with multiple 'spaces' quite a pain. To my horror it seems Ubuntu (in my case 12.04) copied this OSX UI and made it the default.

Is there a way to install a one click workspace switcher? It would be neat if it dynamically showed me an image of the desktops like it used to, but mainly it just has to be single-click.

I know there are keyboard shortcuts but I also need a solution for when my hands are not on the keyboard.

The other problem with the current workspace switcher is that when I have a lot of apps opened, it gets pushed down to the 'stacked icons' part of the dock and it then becomes an even slower process to change workspace. I can't seem to be able to move this icon (I guess another question would be how to do this). As one of the most often used dock icon, shouldn't it be at the top of the dock?

EDIT: I was just told by this site to explain how this is different from other questions about workspace switchers. The important thing is that it has to to be a single-click mouse manipulation (as it has been in Unix type desktops since about 1995). Other questions only mention keyboard shortcuts or 2 or more steps solutions. To me this is unacceptable for an action as frequent as desktop switching.

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marked as duplicate by Ringtail, Eliah Kagan, Jorge Castro, hhlp, stephenmyall Jan 20 '13 at 20:54

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

this is why I use the good'n'old gnome-fallback. :) – Evandro Silva Oct 24 '12 at 17:37
@nuttyaboutnatty No, this is not the correct duplicate. That is about keyboard shortcuts and the OP clearly states he needs a single mouse click to perform it and explicitly mentions shortcut keys is not what he's looking for. – gertvdijk Jan 20 '13 at 20:20
@gertvdijk - Who's "the OP" ? I see no mention of mouse in the question; and even if: its all in Expo which, as such, is mentioned in the accepted answer to the older question. – nutty about natty Jan 20 '13 at 21:24
@nuttyaboutnatty "I know there are keyboard shortcuts but I also need a solution for when my hands are not on the keyboard." In a separate paragraph. I have voted for reopening now. OP is original poster. – gertvdijk Jan 20 '13 at 21:54
@gertvdijk - I really don't mind :-) but still I think there's some redundancy and it might help to channel both question & answer into a single coherent thread. After all, it's all (keyboard and mouse) about the Expo plugin (at least in my humble perception) ... – nutty about natty Jan 21 '13 at 9:32
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Unfortunately I do not know of any alternative workspace switchers besides a simple drop down menu. As with nearly and change to the visual components of Ubuntu you will need CompizConfig Settings Manager. It is installable from the Ubuntu software centre by searching "Compiz." CompizConfig Settings Manager is also known as CCSM.

Once you have installed CCSM open it by searching in the dash for "compiz." Once open navigate down to the Expo plug-in. Expo is the workspace switching plug-in. All settings pertaining to it are located there.


First to tackle your single click to exit expo: The opening tab in Expo is the bindings tab you will want to set your exit expo button to which ever you want. I have it kept on the default left click but you can choose to use any mouse button you want. If you set it to left click you will have to change the drag and drop binding. If you never use drag and drop windows in the workspace switcher simply disable it.

And as a final note for productivity. It can be much more useful if you set the Expo key, Expo button, and expo edge. These will be the bindings that initiate the switcher. For instance I have my workspace edge set to bottom right so that when I'm primarily doing things on my mouse I can easily switch workspaces for multitasking. This can be seen in Mac and Linux Mint by having the switcher initiated by moving the mouse to the top right corner.

I hope that helps you out.

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Well it's not exactly what I was looking for but I did set the Expo button to middle mouse button and it improves the situation a lot. That button was previously assigned to the "viewport switcher: plugin for initiate action" but didn't seem to do anything when I clicked it. I hope I didn't screw anything up doing that. – Benoit Essiambre Oct 24 '12 at 19:59
I accepted your answer since after using the 'Expo button:middle mouse' setting for a few hours, I think this is actually superior to what I was looking for. The sequence 'middle button click'-'move mouse over workspace'-'right click' is very fast, maybe faster than a single click on a dynamic (but small) widget which requires a lot of mouse precision. – Benoit Essiambre Oct 25 '12 at 2:47
Thank you. The settings under expo should only pertain to opening and closing the expo plug-in so you should have no problem. I honestly have no clue what the view port things are. Glad I could help you out. – Weylin Schreck Oct 25 '12 at 4:34

If you have a specific application open on another workspace, simply clicking on its icon in the launcher will indeed take you straight to that workspace.

As far as being able to move the workspace switcher position on the launcher, no you can't in 12.04, but this feature has been added in to 12.10. It's a real shame they didn't add this feature for 12.04 LTS, but I guess there was only so much they could achieve in the given time.

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