I am looking for a clean and fast method to force GNOME in Ubuntu 14.04 to switch between active apps only on the current workspace when pressing the shortcut alt + tab.


7 Answers 7



gsettings set org.gnome.shell.app-switcher current-workspace-only true
  • 10
    super fast, no extra software necessary and does exactly what was asked for! +1
    – Jamie-505
    Mar 3, 2017 at 10:52
  • 2
    ...and for me in 17.10.
    – colan
    Oct 25, 2017 at 15:44
  • 19
    It's working on Ubuntu 18.04. It's straightforward and you don't need to install anything Apr 30, 2018 at 20:07
  • 2
    Strangely, it doesn't work for me in 18.04, but this extension does: extensions.gnome.org/extension/310/alt-tab-workspace
    – k_g
    Aug 2, 2018 at 4:12
  • 2
    Works on 20.04 as well.
    – Jong
    May 10, 2020 at 10:20

Here is the solution I came up with:

Very fast & easy, without any installations/extensions:

  1. Install dconf-editor (already installed on current debian/ubuntu distributions):

    sudo apt-get install dconf-editor
  2. Open dconf-editor (from the Dash or a Terminal)

  3. Navigate to: org -> gnome -> shell -> app-switcher
  4. Set "current-workspace-only" to true


..and you're done :)

  • 15
    Wish Gnome would just put this in their Settings applet Dec 28, 2016 at 19:29
  • 2
    Please add @austinmarton answer too, since while this is more generic, there's a gnome way that requires no extra installs. Oct 7, 2017 at 14:54
  • 7
    I've added feature issue to Gnome TWEAK project gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gnome-tweaks/issues/123
    – sobi3ch
    Feb 15, 2018 at 11:22
  • 1
    As of Ubuntu 18.04 this setting can be found at /org/gnome/shell/window-switcher/current-workspace-only
    – GuruBob
    Jul 1, 2018 at 23:37
  • 2
    WARNING: For me in Ubuntu 18.04 does not work, but the command line version worked: gsettings set org.gnome.shell.app-switcher current-workspace-only true Aug 31, 2018 at 9:39

Seems to be fixed with

gsettings set org.gnome.shell.window-switcher current-workspace-only true
gsettings set org.gnome.shell.app-switcher current-workspace-only true
  • 1
    Looks like I need only the first one (.window-switcher)
    – kerner1000
    Jan 5, 2018 at 17:52
  • This did the job. It only shows the apps currently in the workspace and, when an app has two instance each in a different workspace when pressing Alt+Tab it prevents from showing both of them. But you have to use both the commands in this answer. Awesome, thank you! Oct 1, 2018 at 15:38
  • Debian Buster : the first line did it for me.
    – RichieHH
    Jan 8, 2020 at 13:39

As an alternative to installing dconf-editor and having to fiddle around with your mouse so much, you can also do this from terminal.

To create the current-workspace-only value:

dconf write /org/gnome/shell/app-switcher/current-workspace-only 'true'

To erase it, going back to default settings:

dconf reset /org/gnome/shell/app-switcher/current-workspace-only

I would like dconf-editor more if it could search through paths, properties, and values.

  • 3
    the (later) answer using gsettings is just a higher-level api that also sets the dconf values (and would probably be in general preferred over directly accessing dconf)
    – michael
    Jan 1, 2018 at 7:56
  • 1
    This solution work still on Ubuntu 21.10. Perfect.
    – KFO
    Dec 7, 2021 at 7:37
  • For keys that don't exist yet, dconf does not let you auto complete them, while gsettings does. f.e. dconf write /org/gnome/shell/app-sw then pressing tab does not complete to anything, but gsettings set org.gnome.shell.app-sw then pressing tab completes to gsettings set org.gnome.shell.app-switcher
    – trusktr
    Jun 21, 2022 at 23:34

An alternative for people who want to tab through open windows on current workspace but also want to be able to tab through all open apps (on any workspace) this can be achieved by changing the keyboard shortcuts.

Under Settings > Devices > Keyboard (on Ubuntu 17.10):

  • Switch Windows: Alt+Tab
  • Switch Applications: Super+Tab
  • That's tricky - Alt+Tab changes windows, even when changing the keyboard shortcuts. Is there a way to fix that?
    – Rick-777
    Nov 29, 2017 at 14:49
  • Yes, Alt+Tab will show the windows open on the current workspace whereas Super+Tab will show all open programs (on any workspace). What do you want to achieve, that Alt+Tab shows open programs on the current workspace instead of open windows?
    – Clauds
    Nov 30, 2017 at 10:19
  • 1
    Hi ! I'm trying to set this specific behavior, but I don't seem to be able to. Both commands always behave the same. I tried gsettings current-workspace-only for window and app switcher with no luck either. Any idea? Thanks :)
    – Biggybi
    Apr 15, 2018 at 6:16
  • I checked my gsettings and I have org.gnome.shell.app-switcher current-workspace-only false and org.gnome.shell.window-switcher current-workspace-only true
    – Clauds
    Apr 15, 2018 at 9:59
  • This does not answer the question but is a great tip nonetheless.
    – crafter
    Aug 7, 2018 at 22:32


If you also want to ungroup applications on switcher you can add the officially supported AlternateTab extension.



Actually, Ubuntu is going to have the Alternatetab as default on Alt+tab in the upcoming version of Ubuntu (19.04), while the current default app switcher will remain on Super+tab.


The other solutions here did not work for me on Ubuntu 18.04.1, but the Alt Tab Workspace extension worked.


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