When I have more than one instance of a program running and I minimize all of them, they are grouped in a single icon on the launcher. For example, I'm chatting with three people on Emesene: Joe, Mary and Paul. Then I minimize all three windows and they are grouped in the same Emesene icon on the launcher. Then, if I want to restore only Joe's window, I can't because if I click on the Emesene icon on the launcher, it restores all three windows automatically (or it shows that animation with all open windows available for me to choose - but this is laggy for me here - probably my computer - so it's useless).

I'd like to know if there's any way to either "ungroup" windows, showing a separate icon for each of them, or have a kind of a "context menu" or a quick list, showing a list of all grouped windows so I could choose and click on the one I want only.

If I can disable windows grouping, excellent. I think that would be better. If not, I thought of something like this...

  1. Right-click on the icon with grouped windows.
  2. A menu appears showing all windows available: Restore all, Joe, Mary, Paul.
  3. I pick what I want from the list and the window(s) is(are) shown.

That's it. Does this exist yet? If so, please, could you help me find it or do it?

  • 2
    The right click feature is coming to Unity 7 in Ubuntu 13.04. You can read more in this omgubuntu article under Radio Dots.
    – green
    Apr 15, 2013 at 5:42
  • The super + W combo may be useful as a workaround until/if Ubuntu has an ungroup option for taskbar icons.
    – Underverse
    Mar 12, 2017 at 9:02

2 Answers 2


You can't ungroup windows. However, quicklists can be used like you suggest. It's up to the application to decide. Also note that you can use Alt+(the button above Tab) to switch between windows of an application like Alt+Tab works with applications.

  • That was not a good edit. On my keyboard, it's quite simply wrong. Here, it's Alt+§. I refer to it as Alt+(button above tab) or sometimes Alt+BAT for a reason. Mar 8, 2012 at 16:28
  • 1
    I saw this (askubuntu.com/questions/35488/…) here and thought maybe there could be something similar, like a workaround, I don't know. I'm not a programmer, so I cannot tell... How about you? Thanks. :)
    – user48949
    Mar 8, 2012 at 17:54
  • Jo-Erlend Schinstad, your suggestion is valid, of course, but it's not exactly what I want. Thanks, anyway. I appreciate your time. :)
    – user48949
    Mar 10, 2012 at 16:26

You can find more information about this question in How to disable the grouping of windows on the launcher?

But in general here is what I wrote (Could not merge the 2 questions because of the bounty). Also note this applies to 12.04+. And is specially noted and useful on 13.04.

The reason why this feature is not available is because of a productive (and actually not counter-productive) reason. Please give me a second to explain so you can also understand. Follow me on this one for the reasons behind this:

Imagine you need to open not 2 Firefox Windows, or 4, but 10 or 20. Now imagine having the Unity Launcher with the common icons it has plus 10 to 20 firefox icons there. You would see 10-20 firefox icons, all the same, and would first have to guess which one takes you to the webpage you wanted to go. Secondly, if you wanted to close them you would have to go, one by one and start closing them manually.

So we have 3 issues:

  • If a user wants to open many windows of the same program.
  • If a user wishes to switch easily between all opened windows of the same program.
  • If a user wants to close many windows of the same program.

With this 3 issues an idea came to mind. Group them together in a single icon in the Launcher that represents the application in use and offer in a one right click solution, all the options needed to cover the rest of the issues.

Between 12.04 and the soon to be release 13.04, there has been much work put out to not only solve this 3 issues, but to help the end user work faster and easily, with just a minor learning curve. The end result (For 13.04 for example) is an icon that can deliver many windows of the same application and offers the possibility to change between them in an almost one click solution.

Not only can I manage several windows of the same app quickly from within one launcher icon, but if the need arises, I can close them all with the "Quit" option in the launcher icon's context menu. Saving me time in case I had 20 Firefox Windows opened.

I also felt the pain when I could not access my multiple windows in an easier manner, but after using this method, I found it was easier, quicker to search in, since I did not have to go through many launcher icons to guess which one is the one I was looking for, neither did I have to scroll down the Unity launcher between 20 Firefox Windows, 30 Chrome ones and 40 Nautilus ones just to get to the one I needed. Overall, it saved me time when I needed to find the correct one and work on it.

As you can see, it focused itself to be more productive to the end user, with just a slight touch in the learning curve.

Now, if you actually wanted to have the option to ungroup them, it would involve, downloading the Unity source and any dependencies related to it. Modifying the code so you could actually ungroup them, by default or as an option, compile this and install it on the system, making your Unity be able to ungroup them as you wish. But in this case, I would ask, is it better than the solution provided by the Unity Development Team?.

This of course is left to each person to decide on how they like to use their system. In my humble and honest opinion, I feel the change made by the Unity team, solves several issues I had on 11.10 or even on 12.04 related to this, and the way it works on 13.04 is much better than I anticipated.

I am sorry there is no straight and specially, easy answer and I really hope you can take a moment and test out the behavior of this feature as it is on the latest Ubuntu version (Specially 13.04 if you have the time). For your case, I would encourage and recommend you take the time to upgrade your system, or even better, download the 13.04 version and test it yourself. It is a huge jump from 11.10 in regards to how Unity and the whole system behaves and helps you accomplish tasks quickly. Hope you see it this way too.

  • 1
    Also, a hybrid option, a la Win 7 would have been nice. I mean, it's obvious Unity was inspired by mixing the Win7 style with the OSX style, and I have to say, I like it. I like it more then either Win7 or OSX, but it's just missing a couple more features from each to make it perfect.
    – Didier A.
    Feb 16, 2015 at 19:25
  • 1
    I agree with your comments. Some user-friendly optional features would be great. Feb 16, 2015 at 20:08
  • 6
    2016 and the issue is still there. I don't know abt anybody else but I never had 20 firefox and 30 chrome windows open. I only want to see two separate icons for two running firefox profiles, and separate icons for open skype chat windows. I get it, there are people who like minimal icons in their launcher but why in the world there is no option to switch this behavior off? Apart from missing visual clues, alt+tab is a pain. In switcher, one has to wait for 4~5 seconds (yes, I counted) to open yet another sub-section and then select required window. A time waster.
    – Ejaz
    Aug 16, 2016 at 12:49
  • 1
    @Ejaz: ‹Alt›‹`› (that's ‹Alt›‹Backquote›, the key to the left of 1 on US keyboards) switches between windows of the same applications.
    – AlexP
    Dec 5, 2016 at 21:22
  • 4
    "developers of the UI know better what's good for the users." This is not helping to solving the problem.
    – QT-1
    Jul 21, 2017 at 20:53

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