I am looking for a simpler ALT-TAB in Unity.

  • The default application switcher takes 0.5 seconds to load, far too slow.
  • Some other Compiz application switcher are fast enough, but they make me sick because everything is moving on the screen.

Call me conservative, but the old Gnome application switcher was perfect for me:

  • Extremely fast
  • Just show the icon (maybe window title too), not a miniature of each window.
  • Does not move icons around, just a cursor moving from one icon to the next.
  • All icons are visible at the same time (not just 3 of them for instance).

Any way to get this behaviour?


2 Answers 2


To get the behavior you want you need to do a few things in addition to stopping the pop-up delay:

Install CCSM if not installed already. apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager from the terminal or search for "Advanced Desktop Effects Settings (CCSM)" in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Select the System Settings option in the power button menu (top right corner) and launch CCSM from there.

For Ubuntu 13.04 (Ringtail) This may also work with > 12.10; unfortunately Unity changes significantly between versions.

Select the 'Ubuntu Unity Plugin' in 'Desktop'.

Under the 'Switcher' tab un-tick 'Show live previews of windows in the switcher'.

I'm not sure the popup delay exists in 13.04; I don't seem to notice any on my machine at least.

This section also allows you to swap the bindings of the switcher for all viewports and the viewport switcher.

For Ubuntu < 12.04

Select the Static Application Switcher in 'Window Management'.

Under the 'appearance' tab check 'icon' and 'show icon only'

And as @fossfreedom said, you can get rid of the .2 second delay "feature" under the 'behavior' tab by reducing 'popup window delay' to 0.

If you don't want them in rows you can switch to the 'application switcher' and change the settings similarly. Just make sure you do this by de-selecting the 'static application switcher' first, or else you'll get binding conflicts.

  • Wow that's perfect! Exactly the behaviour I was looking for. May 29, 2011 at 10:43
  • @Nicolas If the answer was perfect and you accepted it, it is probably worth your upvoting it too.
    – Seamus
    May 29, 2011 at 10:54
  • @Seamus Ok done. May 29, 2011 at 11:23
  • 2
    Thanks for the answer... just a small note for other people looking at this - it's still slower than the metacity one, and the gigantic icons are not possible to shrink. It's still good enough to at least consider not turning off compiz this time. Nov 1, 2011 at 3:17
  • It drove me nuts to not be able to switch between ALL windows with alt-tab. To do that, edit the binding for "Next Window (All Windows)", and deselect the ctrl key. This will prompt you to disable "Next Window" Dec 2, 2011 at 16:10

I found a good, simple solution. Now the windows key + tab rotates fast between all open windows, also those by the same application. Alt + tab rotates between all windows as before. The windows key still opens the launcher, however windows key + tab does not rotate down the launcher.

What I did: Installed and started CCSM as mentioned above. In the Windows part I selected "Ring Switcher" og "Application Switcher" and did not deselect any. I chose to reslove conflicts in the popup window and selected the leftmost option in all questions. This worked both on my stationary PC and laptop.

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