There are a couple of applications that I find myself marking as "Always on Top" every time I use them, so I wonder if there is a way to automatically set them as so, whatever way I start them (menu, shell, gnome-do)?


3 Answers 3


There is a more general solution, working with a EWMH/NetWM compatible X Window Manager (all commonly used wm are included).

The solution concerns the use of the wmctrl application (found in wmctrl package).

You can set the "on-top" property with

wmctrl -r "window title" -b add,above

There is, however, some work left to automate the process.

  • 1
    seems like a good alternative, when compiz is not used. nice!
    – Decio Lira
    Oct 15, 2010 at 13:15
  • 6
    This is the best option for me because I can create a bash script or a keyboard shortcut (which I did) using this command and that way I can use it when I need it but not when I don't. I did make a change though...I wanted a shortcut to turn always on top for the active window and only when I needed so here is my command. wmctrl -r :ACTIVE: -b toggle,above Aug 23, 2013 at 21:26
  • arguments "add,above" is not working for me. but arguments "toggle, above" works (toggles).
    – Palani
    Jan 7, 2014 at 8:42
  • @MichaelTunnell you should post it as answer, including setting up shortcut.
    – jangorecki
    Oct 27, 2016 at 18:59
  • works from a shell, but it dosn't work for me inside a bash script (??...) Feb 10, 2021 at 16:36

If you're using Compiz, you can go into CompizConfig Setting Manager, and enable the Windows Rules plugin, and then add something like class=Gnome-terminal under "Above" to make all Gnome Terminal windows Stick on Top. (You can click the + button and use the grab feature to figure out the class name for various applications if it's not obvious.)

Ubuntu 16.10

Make sure to install compiz-plugin.

  • Hmpf, bah, the name of this plugin is translated totally wrong in Dutch... :-(
    – JanC
    Oct 15, 2010 at 3:09
  • 1
    Very nice! I found that "sticky" is actually "always on this workspace" if anyone is wondering. Also worth mentioning is that if you are using the title of a window, i.e. title=This Window Title, you do not quote it. Use it just like I wrote it. Mar 12, 2013 at 16:02
  • Am I missing something on Ubuntu 16.10 as shown by this screenshot?
    – orschiro
    Feb 25, 2017 at 13:12

There are two methods in which you can achieve this.

  • This method is permanent:

    Install Compiz and then compiz-plugin. Then go into CompizConfig Setting Manager, and enable the "Windows Rules" plug-in which is in "window management". Then go to the line "Above" and press the add button in front of it, And then the "Grab" button and then click on the window of the app which you want " always on top". Press OK.

  • This method is temporary:

    Press Alt+Tab and then T.

  • 5
    I think you mean Alt+Space. Alt+Tab is used for switching between apps Apr 21, 2017 at 10:20

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