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Launcher is great, and it helps me finds stuff. I have the latest release of 12.

But when I'm full screen in VirtualBox running another operating system and I hit some key combination I haven't yet figured out, Unity suddenly grabs keyboard focus. It might be alt-tab, it might be left-control x. I have physically pulled both the windows key and FN key off my laptop because they get in the way, so it's probably not the windows key.

You don't know the focus has been stolen because the full screen app (VirtualBox) is still full screen and the Unity element is in the background. But you're busy typing into a Unity box, not your foreground application.

This is particularly annoying. In my screenshot (taken from a camera, because the built in screen capture program can't capture a screenshot containing the launcher...) the windows VM is the foreground application, but the "Run Command" entry box has come up and is capturing the keyboard:

enter image description here

I would like a foreground full screen app to stay that way.

Is there a way that I can keep Unity but only have it activate its elements (e.g. pop out with its search box) if I physically click a button, not type some random key combination that foreground applications can get confused about? Otherwise I can do without the launcher or other elements, because doing my actual work is more involved than just launching programs.

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This is a known issue with Unity and Virtual Box. If nobody can give you are more recent solution for this you may want to change the shortcuts for Unity elements on the host. See these related questions:…,… – Takkat Dec 11 '12 at 7:42

The best way to run virtualbox without any interference with the host operating system (Unity in your case) is create a special session for Virtualbox from your login manager (Lightdm).

The best is following this process

It's applied to GDM but should working also with Lightdm.

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LightDM is optimized for unity. GDM is optimized for gnome.

I had this problem with elements of unity too, when I tried to play crysis2 under unity with LightDM. - in this case it helped when I changed at login-manager to gnome and played crysis2 under gnome - that was in 12.04 - ( I did not play much, because of nvidia-frickle after new kernel of 12.10 - crysis2 was not starting any more - so I make a break in December/January with chess ).

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