If you have ever used Cmd + Tab on OS X you know what I'm looking for. This is actually one of the few features of OS X I love.

I'm using Compiz and in the Static Application Switcher I have set it so I can switch between applications in the same group using Alt + ~. I've looked through all the different plugins and have searched around on the internet but haven't been able to find anything that lets me switch between the groups. Something that lets me hit Alt + Tab and it'll pop up only one option for all the open apps. Is there any way to do this?


I use Gnome3/Shell at work and have noticed that Gnome3 implements this feature. Would be nice if we could get it in Unity, too. :)

  • Another explanation for non-mac users: cmd+tab cycles between applications. The window shown in the most recently used window for that application. cmd+~ cycles between windows in the current application. There is no built-in way to cycle between all windows for all applications (the Gnome default for alt+tab). – docwhat Aug 16 '11 at 20:34
  • Gnome 3 actually has this feature. – Joel Aug 18 '11 at 21:24

I understand what you are asking but I don't know of any way to do exactly what you are asking, however with Unity you can press Super + [NUMBER] to show the most recently open applications in a group and then the same combination again to show all of the open windows of that app, using the scale plugin.

e.g. Chromium is the second app down in my launcher and if I were to be currently in a different app but wanted to switch to Chromium I would press Super + 2 and I would be there, I could then press it again and it would show all of my windows.

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  • Yeah. That's what I've been using for the time being (that is actually one of my favorite features of Unity. Something I used a lot on Windows 7). But it would just be nice to have the Mac style. – Joel May 12 '11 at 5:15

As of 16.04 this feature is implemented.

If AltTab is pressed it shows application groups

enter image description here

Once you pause over a group, or press ` while holding Alt it expands to window switcher

enter image description here

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  • in Unity only, right? or am I getting it wrong? – Zanna Sep 14 '16 at 10:40
  • Unity-only, as far as i know. It may be available on other DE if you use it with compiz, but I've not tried any others – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Sep 14 '16 at 10:44

Unity in Oneiric behaves like this now (via Compiz' Unity Plugin).

It does not provide an option to easily switch between all windows now though (you can press Alt-Down to open a group, but thats not that convenient in the long run).

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  • Are you sure there is no way to disable grouping other than completely disabling Unity's Switcher and use the static one? – MestreLion Nov 24 '12 at 10:42

I never used Mac so I'm not sure what is it you are trying to reproduce. Maybe try Ctrl + Alt + Tab or Ctrl + Shift + Tab or Super + Tab. By group, do you mean windows of the same application or workspace|virtual-desktop?

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  • 2
    I want to be able to press ALT+Tab and rather than have it show all the windows, it shows all the applications. So, say I have 30 Firefox windows open and 5 Gedit windows open. I want to press Alt+Tab and have it only show one entry for FF and one entry for Gedit. – Joel May 7 '11 at 19:08
  • @Joel: What you want is the current behavior since 12.04. Unfortunately, since I'd really like Alt+Tab to show the 30+5 icons. – MestreLion Nov 24 '12 at 10:41

As far as I can tell, there is no way to replicate that.

However, the Unity launcher is similar - it only shows one entry for each program that is running. So you can use that instead of alt-tab.

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