Right now I'm running Trine, which is a game using OpenGL running in fullscreen, in Ubuntu 10.10.

What I would like to be able to do is Alt+Tab out of the game to be able to browse the web, check any IM messages, etc. while paused.

However, just Alt+Tab'ing doesn't do anything, so I have to quit the game every time I want to check something.

Is there any way that I can minimize a fullscreen game? I know I can probably run it in windowed mode, but then I would have to hide the panels when playing - since the game would otherwise be hidden underneath. Plus, that's just an ugly solution.

7 Answers 7


You can move to another desktop by clicking CTRL+ALT+ or .

It will not minimize the game, but it should move you to another desktop where you can surf.


If you run it in windowed mode, you can set it to always on top and the same size as your desktop so the panels are not showing, but allows easy alt+tab. This is essentially borderless windowed mode.Try wmctrl. Something like:

trine &
#resize to 1024x768 (or whatever size you want)
wmctrl -r 'Trine' -e 1,0,0,1024,768
#make it on top
wmctrl -r 'Trine' -b add,above
#activate it
wmctrl -a 'Trine'
  • Interesting, but won't the Alt + Tab keypress be captured by the game itself?
    – Oxwivi
    Nov 5, 2011 at 18:08
  • I suppose it's possible the game will still eat the commands. I used to do this for another game that would crash when I alt+tab in fullscreen mode (it was also opengl), so I just ran it in this configuration and had no more issues. Another problem with full screen mode for me was it would often blank my second monitor. This also prevented that from occurring.
    – balloons
    Nov 5, 2011 at 18:23

Start it in new x-server, and switch desktop by keys CTRL+ALT+F7 or CTRL+ALT+F8.

Type xinit /path/to/the/game/executable -- :1 into a terminal.

  • 5
    Why not provide short instructions please?
    – turbo
    Jul 8, 2011 at 23:10
  • 4
    This is useless without instructions.
    – RolandiXor
    Aug 28, 2011 at 19:21
  • 1
    Have to agree on not having instructions kinda sucks. Nov 10, 2011 at 16:26
  • Fails for me: X: user not authorized to run the X server, aborting.
    – Sparhawk
    Feb 8, 2014 at 0:14
  • @Sparhawk this guy gave good instructions ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2101504
    – Jerinaw
    Dec 24, 2014 at 18:06

The game has a bug that you need to report.

  • 13
    That's in every single fullscreen game I have ever played in Linux. Apr 14, 2011 at 6:34
  • @Tommy Brunn I've only seen it once, when testing an experimental beta
    – psusi
    Apr 14, 2011 at 14:30

I have found a very dirty solution for this problem. Insert a USB-Stick, a window with the file manager will pop up, your fullscreen application will be inactive. (Works only if it's not configured to do nothing instead...)

  • Lol, you invented another input device there: Side channel attack to get out of fullscreen Dec 3, 2018 at 18:16

I used to face this problem way too regularly and as far as I know it's a problem that needs to be addressed however it may be possible to use Alt+Enter to take the game out of fullscreen mode and then Alt+Tab. Pressing Alt+Enter again when the game has focus should then put it back into fullscreen mode.


Should be able to do CTRL+ALT+ or CTRL+ALT+ if that doesn't work then something might be wrong with your game.

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