In MS Windows when you have opened a file explorer (equivalent of nautilus in Ubuntu) and another application opens on top of that (for example explorer in full screen mode and some application opened in windowed mode on top of that) and you click on the file/folder explorer that window gets focus.

So far this works exactly the same in the Ubuntu. However when you have the same situation and you click and drag on some file or folder, than the file explorer window does not get focus which allows you to drag and drop items from that folder into that application very quickly and easily. How can I achieve the same behavior in the Ubuntu?

In case it's not clear what I am asking for I will try to write it in other words.

When you have more than one window/applications stacked and you click or click and drag into one of them the window with the file icon you click gets focus and is moved to the top of the stacking order. As a result it covers other windows. I want to leave the stacking order as is when I click and drag some file or folder and only change the stacking order when I single click in that application window. It works exactly as I want it to when I drag and drop files from the desktop into some application.

I often work with multiple windows/applications opened at the same time and the inability to easily drag and drop files and folder from nautilus into my apps is very annoying to me and it slows me down more than I am willing to sacrifice.

1 Answer 1


As of now, you cannot do this with Ubuntu or any other system based on X11. (On MS Windows it only works for the file manager. On MacOS it works for everything, modulo bugs.) Making it possible requires changes to toolkits and window managers which, in the past, developers have been unwilling to make; it's not a failure of X11. Perhaps with the new graphics systems, like Wayland and Mir, it will be possible.

  • Thank you. I've been thinking about it and I think I found a solution / workaround but I have no idea how to execute this solution. I think that there should be an event in the background that fires off when you start drag and drop on an item. Also when you set some window as always on top you basically get desired effect. So if we somehow hook onto that drag event and apply always on top on last focused window it should work. However scripts like this are way out of my comfort zone so I have no idea how to do it or if it is not too hard / too much work.
    – Joe
    Nov 20, 2013 at 20:16

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