All of the references I've found for Gnome 3 keyboard shortcuts list that alt+tab switches between applications and alt+` switches between windows (some actually say alt+~, but I think they're mistaken, and I've tried both anyway). Maybe that functionality works for Gnome 3 on Fedora or something, because no matter the key combo I try, nothing will switch between windows except for opening the alt+tab dialog and using arrow keys to navigate it (and at that point it's faster to just use a mouse..).

How do I quickly switch between windows in Gnome 3?

  • 1
    Have you found a solution? I just started running Gnome3 on Ubuntu 12.4, and now alt-tab behaves identically to tab.
    – Rob
    Mar 19, 2012 at 18:07
  • @Rob I've also go this problem on Ubuntu 12.04 where alt + tab does the same as tab. Did you find a fix?
    – Neil
    May 10, 2012 at 22:20
  • @Neil - I fixed it, but I've fogotten what I did. I think I futzed around with ccsm and it got better.
    – Rob
    May 11, 2012 at 13:50
  • 1
    There are many useful answers here: superuser.com/questions/394376/…
    – brandizzi
    Dec 1, 2017 at 17:17

9 Answers 9


In GNOME 3, you can permanently change Alt+Tab to switch between windows, instead of switching between applications:

  • Open Settings
  • Select Devices->Keyboard
  • Search for "Switch Windows" and enter Alt+Tab as the new shortcut.
  • A dialog will tell you the shortcut is already being used by "Switch Applications", select Replace to confirm.
  • 4
    This answer works perfectly and it's based on the built in keyboard settings. I set "Switch Windows" to Alt+Tab and then set "Switch Applications" to Super+Tab so that I can have both. Plus further, Alt+` works too.
    – icc97
    Mar 4, 2018 at 17:17
  • Yes! This should be the default! Why do I care that switching between the terminal and vim counts as switching between windows of terminal, not just between any old windows? Thanks for this!
    – LondonRob
    Feb 7, 2019 at 16:30
  • 1
    Thank you so much!!! @icc97 thank you too, I find having both shortcuts very useful.
    – antimirov
    Feb 20, 2019 at 19:49
  • Not sure if this solves the OP's problem, but it was exactly what I was looking for. Mar 3, 2019 at 10:21
  • 6
    note: was "Settings -> Keyboard Shortcuts" for me as of May 2020 in Fedora 32 (I couldn't find it under devices). Also, thank you! I'm thought I should give Gnome a solid chance and this was driving me crazy.
    – jgreve
    May 12, 2020 at 5:28

In GNOME Shell, you should be able to switch between multiple windows of the same app by running Alt + the key above tab on your keyboard. For US users, that shortcut is Alt + ` but other keyboard layouts are different.

This is different than Unity in Ubuntu 11.10 which uses Alt + ` for all layouts. (I expect that behavior would improve in Ubuntu 12.04).

  • So if my system DOESN'T do that, then I have a bug, as mentioned in the first paragraph of my post? Oct 24, 2011 at 14:18
  • I'm using Gnome 3 with Ubuntu 13.10 and the NEO layout, the mentioned shortcut doesn't work /:
    – Andy
    Jan 8, 2014 at 10:14
  • 1
    Recommend the Gnome Extension (@LLlax) in stead of this approach. Simple, easy and can be turned on/off at will from the Gnome Tweak Tool or the "Gnome Shell Extensions" extension.
    – armc
    Nov 2, 2018 at 17:04
  • 2
    this question's title "How do I “alt-tab” between windows using Gnome 3?" and his bold text question "How do I quickly switch between windows in Gnome 3?" IMO indicates that the user probably wants what I would call the "old alt-tab behavior" which switches between any window... so the <kbd>alt+`</kbd> solution you offer may help... but is still not the old alt-tab behavior. fortunately gnome-3 does offer the old alt-tab behavior --> @JesusH's solution describes how to restore alt-tab to switching between any window. Jun 6, 2019 at 11:28
  • Alt + ` switches between windows of the same application - this is not the same behaviour as alt+tab. This is actually one of the problems is that the default Gnome 3 Alt + Tab groups windows under applications. The standard Windows alt+tab is the same as "Switch Windows" keyboard shortcut.
    – icc97
    Nov 16, 2020 at 11:49

Note: the Alternatetab extension was deprecated as of GNOME 3.30 in favor of the built-in "Switch Windows" keyboard shortcut

GNOME Tweak Tool at Extensions tab has an "Alternatetab" option, that allows to use standard Alt + Tab to switch between windows without grouping them.

GNOME tweak tool could be installed as follows:

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

AlternateTab extension could be found here: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/15/alternatetab/

  • @Zanna fixed it :-)
    – LLIax
    Feb 3, 2017 at 18:49
  • +1 as this inadvertently helped me address a related problem as given in askubuntu.com/a/996856/340383
    – bgoodr
    Jan 17, 2018 at 5:46
  • This answer works perfectly, but @JesusH's answer works without having to install the GNOME Tweak Tool.
    – icc97
    Mar 4, 2018 at 17:16
  • I have to agree with Linus on the quality of oob gnome3 experience. Jul 30, 2018 at 18:27
  • 4
    JFYI, the Alternatetab extension is being deprecated as of gnome3.30 in favor of the built-in "Switch Windows" keyboard shortcut (see @JesusH's answer below). See blogs.gnome.org/fmuellner/2018/10/11/…
    – teuber789
    Mar 20, 2019 at 17:05

I know this question is old but it was a top result when I searched this problem and there's no solution here.

The solution that I, and I think the OP, was looking for is Super+Tab.

This is the "change applications" action in the keyboard shortcuts.

  • In Gnome 3 by default Super + Tab is mapped to exactly the same as Alt + Tab - which is indeed "Switch Applications". The problem with "Switch Applications" is that it groups windows under applications. What the Windows Alt+Tab behaviour does is the same as "Switch Windows". This by default does not have any mapping.
    – icc97
    Nov 16, 2020 at 11:55

Check the shortcut tab in gnome's keyboard settings.

For me (Ubuntu 13.10), Switch windows of one application is set to Alt+Caps+Tab.

Additionall, there is the Alt+F6 shortcut to immediately switch windows of one application – it only applys to one workspace.


Hit alt-tab to get to the app-switching "toast message" (the big balloon with the icon that appears in the middle of your screen).

With alt key down, then hit the arrow keys -> <- to go to the left and right in the app menu. So you need two hands to switch between applications.

On my 13.10, after hitting the left-arrow or right arrow keys once, the alt-tab left-hand-only key-combination continues to work again.


In ubuntu 12.04 precise pangolin you go to

CompizConfig Settings Manager > Window Management

and tick "Static Application Switcher"

To install CCSM:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Install via the software center

  • 2
    This question is about gnome-shell, not Unity.
    – jokerdino
    Apr 6, 2012 at 14:32
  • It solved my problem with Ctr+Tab, so I decided to share it.
    – misza222
    Apr 7, 2012 at 17:06

On my french Ubuntu 18.04 instance, I change, as wrote by @jesus-h :
Switch window of an application directly or something like that (changer de fenêtre d'une application directement in french),
from Alt+F6 to Alt+F1 which I can do with left hand

I enjoyed in ubuntu 14 or/and 16 to switch beetween windows in application using mouse wheel over left application icon.

I have quite permanently two firefox windows, one usual for my agenda and trusted web sites (my nextcloud agenda, my job gitlab…) and one private for "all comming" web sites to avoid permanent cookies and traces


To switch between windows of same application: Alt + ~ That is Alt + tilde

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