One can switch applications using the Task Switcher which is brought up by Alt + Tab. Once brought up I can cycle through applications using the arrow keys. I want to bypass the Task Switcher all together and navigate between windows directly using the keyboard. Something like Super + Home goes to the previous window and Super + End goes to the next window. I have been lucky to find this post which gets close but is not quite there Use arrow keys when switching applications with super + tab. Is there any way to get this functionality in Gnome 3 just with changing settings and the command line? Is there an extension to do this? Or is this the problem that is solved by window managers, if so, can I expect this sort of functionality out of most/all window managers?

  • 1
    Have you exhausted your options in Keyboard Shortcuts? I'm not sure you're clear on DEs and WMs. GNOME is a desktop environment (DE) it contains a WM (mutter). It's generally not a novice task to switch out the WM or the Desktop Environment, but if the customization options for you are insufficient in GNOME (it provides the least amount of customization of any Ubuntu desktop flavor) and you want to try another DE, you can try another official flavor of Ubuntu without installing - just boot from installation media and choose "Try Ubuntu"
    – Nmath
    Sep 3, 2020 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


Edit (As of 09/22/2021)

It looks like the two switch-windows keybindings don't work the way they use to. Nowadays I use Material Shell.

Thank you to Nmath for the helpful answer. Right below Switch Windows Directly in the Navigation section is Switch Windows (unbound by default I think) which brings up a arrow key navigable popup much like the one for Task Switcher.

But what if I want to switch windows without the popup. I discovered Alt + Esc cycles through windows. This led me to the Switch Windows Directly setting under the Navigation section after doing Devices -> Keyboard in the Settings app. One can change the key binding for Switch Windows Directly, which acts as a "next window" command, but unfortunately the corresponding "previous window" command is then bound to Shift + (the key binding of Switch Windows Directly) and can't be rebound in the Settings app. However, there is a command line utility call gsettings that can do what we want. To see the key bindings it has, do

gsettings list-recursively | grep org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings

After studying that output and some other basic gsettings information, these are the commands I used to create keybindings that allow arrow key navigation of windows.

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings cycle-windows "['<Super>Right']"
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings cycle-windows-backward "['<Super>Left']"

And if you prefer to have the popup, I bet

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-windows "['<Super>Right']"
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-windows-backward "['<Super>Left']"

(changed cycle to switch) would work for that (though I haven't tested it myself). I don't know how this stuff interacts with the Settings app. To be safe I just removed any key bindings for a command before making new ones for the command. Hopefully this has helped someone.

  • "Switch Windows Directly" ("cycle windows") is bound to <kbd>Alt</kbd>+<kbd>Esc</kbd> by default
    – vanadium
    Sep 4, 2020 at 9:19

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