I've been using Gnome Shell with Ubuntu for few days now and have experienced really annoying behaviour with new windows.

Sometimes when I use another window and press e.g. Alt+Ctrl +T to open new terminal window, the new window is not brought to the front. Instead I get a "New terminal window is ready to use" notification.

A similar problem occurs with the with Pidgin being integrated with Gnome Shell (via extension). When I get a new message, a notification pops up, but the window does not show. I need to either Alt+Tab it or click the notification to see the new message.

Is there any way to have new windows being always brought to front, and remove those annoying "Window is ready" notifications?

EDIT: gconftool-2 --search-key focus_new_windows (as requested by severin):

 /schemas/apps/metacity/general/focus_new_windows = Schema (type: `string' list_type: '*invalid*' car_type: '*invalid*' cdr_type: '*invalid*' locale: `C')
 /apps/metacity/general/focus_new_windows = smart
  • 6
    There is a good reason why Gnome shows that "Window is ready" notification when a new window is opened without getting focus automatically. It is a important accessibility feature. For the blind and other visually impaired users like me it is important to get notified if a window without focus is opened because otherwise it would be impossible to know if the window really was not opened or not. If a new window does not get focus automatically then user must be notified so that users knows that the window opened. Screen reader like Orca speaks those notifications.
    – miksuh
    Nov 7, 2017 at 14:02
  • In Debian v3.16, Gnome 3 I found this focus_new_windows setting in org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences Mar 9, 2018 at 9:40
  • if a new window gets focus automatically (especially with a shell) while I am typing stuff, I get pretty angry… also think about potential security consequences Mar 5, 2019 at 15:22
  • 1
    "There is a good reason" ? no. There is no good reason to make a system less usable and less secure. This is a result of a mistake that should be corrected. At least the ability to disable this bug should be put at the hands of the user.
    – QT-1
    Jan 6, 2020 at 10:40

13 Answers 13


GNOME extension: "Steal My Focus"

There is an extension for Gnome 3 called "steal my focus" by sstent.


It solves the exact problem you're having.

  • doesn't work for me. I noticed that I'm having this problem only on my external monitor. On the laptop display the window comes in front. Jul 18, 2014 at 15:38
  • A great extension!
    – qed
    Sep 29, 2014 at 0:01
  • 1
    Doesn't work on GNOME 3.22.2 (Fedora 25)
    – l0b0
    Feb 6, 2017 at 10:47
  • 2
    extensions.gnome.org/extension/1236/noannoyance is the more up to date option.
    – lkraav
    Nov 25, 2018 at 12:35
  • 1
    @lkraav I converted your comment to an answer, I hope you don't mind.
    – Flimm
    Jul 16, 2020 at 8:20

You can try setting focus_new_windows from smart to strict. You can either use gconf-editor and go to /apps/metacity/general and change the value of focus_new_windows from smart to strict, like here:enter image description here

Or you can use the command line:

gconftool-2 --set /apps/metacity/general/focus_new_windows --type string strict

If that still doesn't help, you can also change auto_raise_delay from 1000 to 0 in aforementioned gconf-editor (see screenshot).

See also here.

  • 4
    But the long description given for focus_new_windows key says "This option provides additional control over how newly created windows get focus. It has two possible values; "smart" applies the user's normal focus mode, and "strict" results in windows started from a terminal not being given focus." But we want the opposite . Isnt it ? We want to give focus for newly launched applications. How to do that?
    – mac
    Dec 22, 2011 at 9:39
  • 7
    Running that command-line had no effect for me Aug 8, 2013 at 17:24
  • 4
    Also had no effect for me (I have it set both to strict and the auto_raise_delay to 0). Jul 18, 2014 at 15:19

On Ubuntu 20.04 without installing anything you can use these 2 commands in a Terminal as a workaround:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences auto-raise 'true'

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences focus-new-windows 'strict'

No need of extensions or additional Applications.

  • 3
    Should be focus-new-windows 'smart' so that windows opened via Terminal can gain focus immediately. With 'strict', Terminal opens windows in the background with a notification.
    – TalkLittle
    Aug 23, 2021 at 7:28
  • 1
    even only auto-raise did the trick (to show immediately the "open file" dialog from my IDE)
    – lnksz
    Jan 17 at 13:20
  1. Go to System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager > General Options (under General) > Focus & Raise Behaviour,
  2. Clear Focus Prevention Windows field.

References: Compiz General Options, Compiz Window Matching.


I dont think there is a setting to do this. I have been using gnome shell for a while now. You can install the "advanced settings extension" for gnome 3 which provides you with a few more settings. However, you cannot get the function you are looking for. I will search the net and come back to you.

  • Nope, as far as I'm concerned there is no way to do autofocussing a new window nor is there a way to remove the notifications.
    – Hannes
    Nov 20, 2011 at 12:59
  • there is an extension for gnome which does that exact thing you're saying isn't possible. Have a look at my answer :) Aug 17, 2012 at 12:42

The long term solution is for this bug to be fixed by the developers.

Here is a bug report that seems to be related:


Maybe casting more votes will eventually help the solution..


GNOME extension: "NoAnnoyance"

Try installing and activating this GNOME extension called NoAnnoyance by sindex:

The GitHub repo seems more up-to-date than some of the answers listed here.


This can now be done within Tweak Tool which is included with Gnome Shell. You no longer need to use extensions or dconf-editor.

Under the "Windows" section, slide the switch over for "Automatically Raise Windows".

This setting will make windows popup in focus, and will also get rid of the "application is ready" notification.

enter image description here

EDIT: This option is missing in Ubuntu 17.10 and will hopefully be back in 18.04. As a temporary fix, you can try installing the following gnome extensions;

  • Noannoyance
  • Focus my window
  • Steal my focus

The above extension are available here : https://extensions.gnome.org/

  • 2
    This setting is absent on gnome-tweak-tool in Ubuntu 17.10 Feb 28, 2018 at 3:52
  • @ChrisBillington Correct. The reasoning for the removal isn't clear. However, you can get these back by installing the Gnome extensions "NoAnnoyance" and "Focus my window". Hopefully they bring it back in 18.04. I usually only stick with LTS releases... Also as mentioned below, the extension "Steal my focus" may work for you.
    – Delorean
    Mar 1, 2018 at 16:46
  • The setting is there in 19.10 but does not work
    – QT-1
    Dec 17, 2019 at 9:09
  • 1
    The setting is absent in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.
    – Flimm
    Jul 16, 2020 at 8:11
  1. use gconf-editor
  2. go to /org/gnome/desktop/wm/preferences/focus-new-windows
  3. set property: "strict"
  4. apply changes

enter image description here

  • To install gconf-editor, run sudo apt install gconf-editor
    – Flimm
    Jul 16, 2020 at 8:13
  • In Ubuntu 20.04, the path /org/gnome/desktop/wm/preferences/focus-new-windows does not exist.
    – Flimm
    Jul 16, 2020 at 8:13

You can modify this type of stuff with devilspie, which has a nice GUI frontend gdevilspie, which is in the repos.


Create a custom shortcut under your keyboard settings and use command:
xterm -e < terminalname >
uxterm -e < terminalname >

Also if you get problems with "failed to execute session" you can always go a step further.

< terminalname > -e xterm -e < terminalname >

In my case:
xfce4-terminal -e xterm -e xfce4-terminal

This i kinda funny because in this way you use a native terminal to start the newer one.
And since the older don't have the preference to start in background
it will start the newer on top.

Clean and no need to install extensions.


OK, I've had this issue for many months. After going through all answers, I found nothing satisfactory, but some good pointers. And here's the full answer that solved my problem for Ubuntu 18.04: https://linuxconfig.org/how-to-install-gnome-shell-extensions-on-ubuntu-18-04-bionic-beaver-linux.

Step 1

Install Firefox Addon that makes it easy to install GNOME Shell extensions: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/gnome-shell-integration/.

Step 2

Install the host connector that supports the addon:

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

Step 3

Install this GNOME Shell extension: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1236/noannoyance/. You can install it from the web page, thanks to the Firefox extension.


For Ubuntu 20.04, the following has worked for me.

  1. Install the NoAnnoyance GNOME Shell Extension by entering in a terminal window

    sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-no-annoyance

  2. Then launch GNOME Tweaks by entering in the terminal


  3. In Tweaks, make sure to enable Noannoyance under Extensions

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