I just installed Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and am trying to customize the desktop. I placed the app dock on the bottom, and now I'm trying to figure out a way to switch between open windows.

  1. Windows on dock individually/ungroup: I know that if I click on an open application's icon, I'll get a nice little pop-up/tooltip showing me all the individual instances/windows of that app. Unfortunately, that's two whole steps which feel very uncomfortable for me. I'd prefer to have each instance shown separately along with a window title (so I can tell them apart). That way, I can just click directly on the window I want.

  2. Windows on switcher individually/ungroup: Also, I noticed the ALT + Tab seems to switch between application "types" rather than individual windows. So I can't simply use that shortcut to switch between two open terminals, for example. I have to use the mouse every time. Is there a way to change that behavior so that it just switches between individual windows based on their order they were last in focus?

2 Answers 2


That is how the Ubuntu Dock works by design. That is also how Alt+tab works by design. Yet, you can configure your system more to your liking.

Install some officially supported gnome-shell extensions with the terminal command

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions

Install Tweaks to allow enabling/disabling extensions with the command

sudo apt install gnome-tweaks

Customizing the taskbar

Option 1

Open "Tweaks". On the Extensions tab, enable "Windows list". This gives you a taskbar with one button (icon and text) for each individual window. Optionally, "disable Ubuntu dock" to disable the dock.

Option 2

This is kind of an option on steroids. Install the not officially supported, though excellent extension Dash to Panel:

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-dash-to-panel

In Gnome Tweaks, turn Ubuntu Dock off, then turn Dash to panel on. The extension will merge the dock with the topbar into one bottom bar.

At first, the extension will work the 'modern' way, i.e., showing one icon for each application. The extension is extensively configurable, though. In Gnome Tweaks, click the gear icon next to the extension to access its options. On the "behavior" tab, turn "Ungroup applications" on, and tweak using the gear icon.

Windows on switcher individually/ungroup: Alt+tab

Option 1 Leave as is, but know you can switch individual windows of an application with Alt+Key Above tab

Option 2 Switch to the Window switcher instead. In "Settings", "Keyboard Shortcuts" tab, set the shortcut key for "Switch windows" to Alt+Tab. The officially supported "Alternatetab" extension that also does this will not anymore be available in newer versions of Ubuntu.

  • Thanks! I couldn't get the window list extension to work, but the alternatetab works perfectly. That's enough to improve usability for me. Jan 3, 2019 at 14:41
  • Strange, can you indicate what went wrong? Actually, Ubuntu is going to have the Alternatetab as default on Alt+tab in the upcoming version of Ubuntu (19.04), while the current default app switcher will remain on Super+tab, so they are busy meeting your concerns :-)
    – vanadium
    Jan 3, 2019 at 20:17
  • Running 18.04, Windows List extension is not installed by gnome-shell-extensions, but Dash to Panel is. Neither is acceptable to me as they both put the taskbar equivalent on the top/bottom of the screen (which uses precious vertical height) rather than on the left/right (I have lots of horizontal space). Feb 20, 2020 at 9:01
  • @MartinBonnersupportsMonica Your full right, but that was not the question/issue here. Dash to Panel surely does not come with gnome-shell-extensions. Newer versions of Dash to Panel introduced vertical placement, I believe (or at least, it is coming).
    – vanadium
    Feb 20, 2020 at 9:14
  • 1
    @MartinBonnersupportsMonica It was not coming with the officially supported extensions in gnome-shell-extensions for sure.
    – vanadium
    Feb 20, 2020 at 12:36

For the Alt-Tab issue, you don't need to install anything new. Simply go to Settings -> Devices -> Keyboard and set the Switch Windows option to Alt-Tab. See http://ubuntuhandbook.org/index.php/2019/02/alt-tab-display-separate-windows-ubuntu-18-04/.

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