I find it much faster to identify a window in the taskbar (window list) by its icon,

enter image description here

rather than by its text:

enter image description here

The problem with most window managers I've switched among is that they don't group windows, and if you have more terminals or file managers, they'll just clutter the taskbar and you won't know which is which. Windows 7 offers a relatively elegant solution to this by grouping similar window icons together.

Question: What Linux window managers (or desktop environments) have this functionality? If addons exist that provide it, that's alright.

For reference, a Cinnamon applet that sort of does this is Window List With App Grouping.

  • 1
    If one of the answers solves your original problem, please Accept the answer. – landroni Jan 10 '14 at 20:07
  • @landroni: what if more than one answer solves the problem? – Dan Dascalescu Jan 21 '14 at 9:42
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    Well, you cannot accept two answers, it seems. So you could: (1) accept the answer that is most pertinent and upvote a 2nd answer, and (2) make a bold-formatted 'UPDATE' to your OP to indicate what solutions solved your problem. – landroni Jan 21 '14 at 9:55
  • Alternatively, group all relevant answers that optimally fix your original issue into your own answer, and accept that. (But in that case you don't offer reputation points to those who answered your question.) – landroni Jan 23 '14 at 7:06

Unity's launcher groups windows belonging to one application in the same icon.

Four icons from Unity's launcher

For example, in this screenshot, I have two Firefox windows open, and one Thunderbird window open. The Firefox icon in the launcher has two corresponding arrows on the left to indicate this, and the Thunderbird icon has one arrow. If I click the Firefox icon, I can choose between its two windows, which are immediately rearranged and laid out on the screen.

Dockbarx does exactly what you want. It can be combined with AWN and others easily.


If you want to see this in action, download the free version of Zorin OS, which has done this.

I personally just stick with Gnome Shell for this feature though with the Dash extension. You can install gnome shell extensions at https://extensions.gnome.org/

If you have say multiple Google Chrome windows open you just right click on the icon and select which window you want.

Not exactly the same as windows 7, but you use a right click instead of a left to view the window. If you left click it takes you to the window you viewed last. I prefer this functionality.

You can also look at docky, cario dock, awn. I prefer docky. AWN has a lot of features though for just a seperate more customizable "dock", "dash", "launcher", or thing.

I also use alt+tab alot. In gnome shell you also have access to the super key. It makes viewing all your applications pretty easy.

Hope this helps.

In Xfce, you can easily configure the Window Buttons plug-in on the panel to emulate a Windows 7-like look & feel. See screenshot: enter image description here

To do so, right-click on the plug-in's handle, access Properties, then uncheck the Show button labels option. You may also consider modifying the Sorting order option to something that you prefer (personally I always go for None, allow DnD).

Another possibility in Xfce is the less well-known xfce4-tasklist-plugin, which specifically "mimicks the Windows 7 taskbar (pinning applications, etc)".

See this related discussion on xfce-dev ML: tweaking Window Buttons defaults.

  • LXDE's LX Panel has this capability. Right-click the taskbar and select "Task Bar (Window List)" Settings. Check "Combine multiple application windows into a single button". If "icons only" is also selected, there's no visual indication that an icon may represent more than one window.
  • There's also XFCE4-panel in which a task list item could be added [1].

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