So I just installed Ubuntu for the first time last night, so I qualify as an uber-Ubuntu noob. Anyway, the Alt-Tab switcher in unity, it just shows icons. At first I didn't think anything of it, until I saw some screenshots from someone else's machine that showed full window thumbnails.

To clarify, when I press Alt-Tab, I see a collection of icons for the various programs that I have open. If I hover over a program where I have multiple windows open, say the web browser, the view changes and it shows thumbnail images of what the windows currently look like.

Online, I've seen someone have an Alt-Tab switcher in unity that shows a window thumbnail for all open windows. This looks way nicer than the icon view, and coming from Windows I would prefer it. I just don't know how to make it that way.

I've used unity tweaks and compizconfig, but I haven't been able to get it to work. Any suggestions?

  • 1
    When in ALT-TAB press the down key on your keyboard, to preview the app. And to preview all the app open, press the super(windows) key on your keyboard with w. super-W. – blade19899 Oct 5 '15 at 16:13
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    That's not what he asked. I've seen videos too where the preview images of windows are the default, instead of the icons. Is there a way to do this? – user2223059 Mar 2 '16 at 22:46

I accidentally stumbled on this workaround:

When ALT-TAB does not display icons of running applications, use super-d which will show your desktop.

Now try ALT-TAB and you should see the icons.

The problem re-appears soon, so I have to repeat the super-d pretty often. A tiny bit annoying I prefer it to rebooting.

  • Super+D no longer seems to work in Unity 7.4.0. – Dan Dascalescu Sep 4 '16 at 10:08
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    Now it's Ctrl+Super+D – Maidomax Sep 7 '16 at 20:00
  1. Install Compiz Config Settings Manager and the compiz-plugins-extra:

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

  2. Start Compiz Config Settings Manager and disable the Ubuntu Unity Switcher like this: Search for the Ubuntu Unity plugin in the top left corner.

Select the switcher tab and disable everything.
Note: If you don’t disable all the features then you'll have conflicts.

  1. Enable the old Compiz Switcher:

Search for the application switcher in the top left corner. Finally Enable the Applcation Switcher.

  • Not the best explanation imho but I found it in the end ^^ – displayname Dec 18 '17 at 11:07

As of Ubuntu 16.04.1, one workaround is to press Super+W. This will show what KDE calls a "grid" of the windows in the current workspace. Shift+Super+W will "spread" all the windows in all workspaces.

Unity windows spread

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