What I want to be able to save the current positions of my applications, so when I'm going to open the same ones and run something they will rearrange as they were.

For example if I'm going to open a sublime and three terminal windows I would like to be able to save that somehow.

enter image description here

I don't care if it's an app or a command line tool, as long as I can easily save the positions of my apps.

I'm a big fan of Moom, but unfortunately it works only on MacOS and I really miss it when on Ubuntu. It supports more features and if you know something close to it on top of my main problem that's also fine.

  • @VitaliusKuchalskis Would the window layout do, or should it be exactly the correponding opened files? And what is your window manager? (Unity?) – Jacob Vlijm Jul 5 '15 at 20:18
  • I don't know what window layout are you talking about? I think there is or will be a tool for saving and loading position and size of windows per workspace. So far I found [wmctrl] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wmctrl). But it would require to write scripts or change configurations to make this feature. So I'm, wondering if anyone already made this, and was kind enough to share it. – Qualphey Jul 5 '15 at 20:46
  • @VitaliusKuchalskis could you take a look at this one: askubuntu.com/questions/631392/… This assumes the window(s) stay open, but I assume you'd like to shut down the computer and resore the window positions after a restore size and position (layout). An important question then is if you are just referring to application windows, or also the files that were opened inside the windows. – Jacob Vlijm Jul 5 '15 at 21:51
  • Only the application windows of course. – Qualphey Jul 5 '15 at 23:14
  • From your screenshot, you appear to like/use tiling formations for your windows. You should definitely give a tiling WM a try, for example i3. – nixpower Jul 6 '15 at 13:09


The script was patched/fixed on January 16 2017, fixing for a few applications of which the process name differs from the command to run the application. Possibly, this occurs occasionally on applications. If someone finds one, please leave a comment.

Script to remember and restore the window arrangement and their corresponding applications.

The script below can be run with two options. Let's say you have the window arrangement as below:

enter image description here

To read (remember) the current window arrangement and their applications, run the script with the option:

<script> -read

Then close all windows:

enter image description here

Then to set up the last remembered window arrangement, run it with the option:

<script> -run

and the last remembered window arrangement will be restored:

enter image description here

This will also work after a restart.

Putting the two commands under two different shortcut keys, you can "record" your window arrangement, shutdown your computer and recall the same window arrangement after (e.g.) a restart.

What the script does, and what it does not

Run with the option -read

  • The script uses wmctrl to list all windows, across all workspaces, their positions, their sizes, the applications they belong to
  • The script then "converts" the window positions from relative (to the current workspace, as in the output of wmctrl) to absolute positions, on your spanning workspaces. Therefore it does not matter if the windows you want to remember are on only one workspace or spread over different workspaces.
  • The script then "remembers" the current window arrangement, writing it into an invisible file in your home directory.

Run with the option -run

  • the script reads the last remembered window arrangement; it starts the corresponding applications, moves the windows to the remembered positions, also with the help of wmctrl

The script does not remember the files that possibly might be opened in the windows, nor (e.g.) the websites that were opened in a browser window.


The combination of wmctrl and Unity has some bugs, a few examples:

  • the window coordinates, as read by wmctrl differs slightly form the command to position the windows, as mentioned here. Therefore the recalled window positions might slightly differ from the original position.
  • The wmctrl commands works a bit unpredictable if the edge of the window is very near either the Unity Launcher or the panel.
  • The "remembered" windows need to be completely inside a workspace borders for the wmctrl placement command to work well.

Some applications open new windows by default in the same window in a new tab (like gedit). I fixed it for gedit, but please mention it if you find more exceptions.

The script

#!/usr/bin/env python3
import subprocess
import os
import sys
import time

wfile = os.environ["HOME"]+"/.windowlist"
arg = sys.argv[1]

def get(command):
    return subprocess.check_output(["/bin/bash", "-c", command]).decode("utf-8")

def check_window(w_id):
    w_type = get("xprop -id "+w_id)
    if " _NET_WM_WINDOW_TYPE_NORMAL" in w_type:
        return True
        return False

def get_res():
    # get resolution and the workspace correction (vector)
    xr = subprocess.check_output(["xrandr"]).decode("utf-8").split()
    pos = xr.index("current")
    res = [int(xr[pos+1]), int(xr[pos+3].replace(",", "") )]
    vp_data = subprocess.check_output(["wmctrl", "-d"]).decode("utf-8").split()
    curr_vpdata = [int(n) for n in vp_data[5].split(",")]
    return [res, curr_vpdata]

app = lambda pid: subprocess.check_output(["ps", "-p",  pid, "-o", "comm="]).decode("utf-8").strip()

def read_windows():
    res = get_res()
    w_list =  [l.split() for l in get("wmctrl -lpG").splitlines()]
    relevant = [[w[2],[int(n) for n in w[3:7]]] for w in w_list if check_window(w[0]) == True]
    for i, r in enumerate(relevant):      
        relevant[i] = app(r[0])+" "+str((" ").join([str(n) for n in r[1]]))
    with open(wfile, "wt") as out:
        for l in relevant:

def open_appwindow(app, x, y, w, h):
    ws1 = get("wmctrl -lp"); t = 0
    # fix command for certain apps that open in new tab by default
    if app == "gedit":
        option = " --new-window"
        option = ""
    # fix command if process name and command to run are different
    if "gnome-terminal" in app:
        app = "gnome-terminal"
    elif "chrome" in app:
        app = "/usr/bin/google-chrome-stable"

    subprocess.Popen(["/bin/bash", "-c", app+option])
    # fix exception for Chrome (command = google-chrome-stable, but processname = chrome)
    app = "chrome" if "chrome" in app else app
    while t < 30:      
        ws2 = [w.split()[0:3] for w in get("wmctrl -lp").splitlines() if not w in ws1]
        procs = [[(p, w[0]) for p in get("ps -e ww").splitlines() \
                  if app in p and w[2] in p] for w in ws2]
        if len(procs) > 0:
            w_id = procs[0][0][1]
            cmd1 = "wmctrl -ir "+w_id+" -b remove,maximized_horz"
            cmd2 = "wmctrl -ir "+w_id+" -b remove,maximized_vert"
            cmd3 = "wmctrl -ir "+procs[0][0][1]+" -e 0,"+x+","+y+","+w+","+h
            for cmd in [cmd1, cmd2, cmd3]:   
                subprocess.call(["/bin/bash", "-c", cmd])
        t = t+1

def run_remembered():
    res = get_res()[1]
        lines = [l.split() for l in open(wfile).read().splitlines()]
        for l in lines:          
            l[1] = str(int(l[1]) - res[0]); l[2] = str(int(l[2]) - res[1] - 24)
            open_appwindow(l[0], l[1], l[2], l[3], l[4])   
    except FileNotFoundError:

if arg == "-run":
elif arg == "-read":

How to set up

Before you start, make sure wmctrl is installed:

sudo apt-get install wmctrl


  1. Copy the script into an empty file, save it as recall_windows in ~/bin. Create the directory if necessary. If the directory didn't exist yet, run either source ~/.profile or log out/in after you created the directory. It will now be in $PATH
  2. Make the script executable (!).
  3. Now open a few windows, gedit, firefox or whatever, and test-run the script in a terminal by running the command (no path prefix needed):

    recall_windows -read
  4. close the windows. Now run in a terminal:

    recall_windows -run

Your window setup should now be restored

If all works fine, add two commands to shortcut keys: Choose: System Settings > "Keyboard" > "Shortcuts" > "Custom Shortcuts". Click the "+" and add the commands:

recall_windows -read


recall_windows -run

to two different shortcut keys

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Hah! Just reading the first paragraph and I knew it was one of yours! (upvoted) – Fabby Jul 7 '15 at 20:57
  • @Fabby and celebrating my holiday :) – Jacob Vlijm Jul 7 '15 at 20:59
  • Looks great! Now one could easily add a second param for a setting name and then store/restore different environments, clientA, clientB, home, .. cool! – Bachi Oct 23 '15 at 16:38
  • different versions would be cool, be great if it could close the program. Thinking if there is anything on screen when the wife comes in I could easily make it look like i'm working! – Jamie Hutber Aug 18 '16 at 9:30
  • Could you perhaps take a look at this workspace-related problem ? Thanks!! – nutty about natty Sep 27 '16 at 8:45

I wrote a little library/command line tool which allows saving and restoring sessions and has support for different monitors setups as well as virtual desktops.


npm install -g linux-window-session-manager


Save the current session to ~/.lwsm/sessionData/DEFAULT.json

lwsm save

Save the current session to ~/.lwsm/sessionData/my-session.json

lwsm save my-session   

Restore the session from ~/.lwsm/sessionData/DEFAULT.json

lwsm restore

Restore the session from ~/.lwsm/sessionData/my-session.json

lwsm restore my-session   

Gracefully close all running apps before starting the session

lwsm restore --closeAllOpenWindows

Check it out: https://github.com/johannesjo/linux-window-session-manager

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Works great! This should be top answer. – user3751385 Nov 3 '18 at 21:24

there is no such program. You may install compiz cub:

sudo apt-get install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-fusion-plugins-extra compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-plugins

and follow this how-to

the compiz is the most advanced desktop tool for unity/gnome

| improve this answer | |

I don't know of a simple way of achieving this.

However, I rarely need that for a very simple reason: suspend. Suspend and hibernation are your friends. Not only do you save window positions, but you also save the whole state of your system. I rarely switch off the computer completely, except to reload a new kernel version.

| improve this answer | |
  • Well I'm not switching it of or anything.. but I'm opening you know new terminals, another project, the browsers is getting closed or something, etc.. the screenshot was just an example.. – Lipis Sep 27 '12 at 10:48
  • Well, yes. I have desktops that I haven't touched for weeks now which contain several terminal windows, browser windows, R graphic display windows that all relate to a particular project. – January Sep 27 '12 at 10:52
  • Suspend is the solution I use for my notebook, however, for a Desktop PC is a bit more complicated, since it's necessary to have a nobreak. – cantoni Aug 6 '15 at 11:44

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