Say I have emacs and 3 terminal windows open. This is the way unity organizes them:

  • one window group for emacs
  • one window group for the 3 terminals

With Alt+Tab I can switch from emacs to the active terminal in the group and back. But if I want to switch to any of the non-active terminal windows I have to:

  1. Alt+Tab to switch to terminal group
  2. release to activate the (active) window in the group
  3. Ctrl+Tab (or whatever shortcut you have for that) to flip through the windows in the group
  4. release to activate the new window

This is not at all what I want. I want a simple Alt+Tab to cycle through all windows in the current workspace. I do not want unity to create window groups. How can I change this?

Note: I do not want at all to use the mouse for this.


3 Answers 3


This worked for me:



  1. Install the compizconfig-settings-manager using apt-get:

    sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-plugins-extra

  2. Launch the manager by typing compizconfig settings manager into the unity search and clicking the icon

  3. Find the Ubuntu Unity Plugin, go to tab "Switcher" and disable all short cuts and check boxes

  4. Back on the manager main window, find and enable the "Application Switcher"

  5. Configure the "Application Switcher" as you like it

Result: A different window switcher is now used which does not group windows of the same application. A productive work-flow is possible yet again! :)

  • The "Application Switcher" is pretty buggy for me. It comes up with huge, very zoomed in icons and they icons don't correspond to the actual windows they say the correspond to (e.g. selecting chrome goes to terminal). I didn't try restarting, but ... oh well, I think I'll go back to the default Unity switcher. Jun 30, 2016 at 2:21
  • Will this work for Ubuntu 17.10 (GNOME)?
    – birgersp
    Nov 6, 2017 at 8:07

You may also use Alt+~ when you are on a grouped item in the standard Unity switcher to cycle through the grouped windows quickly. When your active window is a terminal that has siblings, you can use Alt+~ directly to switch between the windows of the same application.

You can use the compizconfig-settings-manager from my other answer to configure a different keyboard short cut for this behaviour as well:

CompizConfig Settings Manager

I find that with this additional shortcut it is easier to switch between applications than with the "standard" approach.


Alexander's answer worked great for me. However I ran into the bad UI experience with Application Switcher as mentioned in the comments. My workaround was to disable other options under Switcher tab in Unity plugin in Compiz advanced settings.

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