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Frequently, I am playing a game and someone I would like to chat with comes online but I am unable to switch to the chat windows because the game is grabbing my mouse. In windows, I can just Alt+Tab out of anything and then proceed to do something else.

I am currently running Xubuntu 11.10. How can I make Alt+Tab switch me from any application, no matter what?

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I used to have a problem with this while playing WoW. I found a solution in using the workspace switcher. I keep WoW in the last workspace by itself, and my chat/browers in another workspace. Hope this works for you as well as it did for me, but note I'm using the Wine platform to play WoW. May cause a difference. Cheers!

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You can turn off fullscreen mode (usually it can be done with Alt+Enter) and then use Alt+Enter to switch to another application.

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It is possible but in a very convoluted way (like using separate Xorg sessions), normally you can't do that, that's one of the reasons a switch to Wayland is going to be such a good thing.

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Some games don't grab the mouse while in windowed mode, or they release the mouse while a menu is open, and you can alt-tab or simply click the other window when the mouse isn't grabbed.

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