Simpler ALT-TAB in Unity


I am looking for a simpler ALT-TAB in Unity.

The default application switcher takes 0.5 seconds to load, far too slow. Some other Compiz application switcher are fast enough, but they make me sick because everything is moving on the screen.

Call me conservative, but the old Gnome application switcher was perfect for me:

Extremely fast Just show the icon (maybe window title too), not a miniature of each window. Does not move icons around, just a cursor moving from one icon to the next. All icons are visible at the same time (not just 3 of them for instance).

Any way to get this behaviour?

To get the behavior you want you need to do a few things in addition to stopping the pop-up delay:

Install CCSM if not installed already. apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager from the terminal or search for "Advanced Desktop Effects Settings (CCSM)" in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Select the System Settings option in the power button menu (top right...

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Simpler ALT-TAB in Unity

By Wyldeplayground | May 29, 2011 | Category Uncategorized

By Nicolas Raoul

I am looking for a simpler ALT-TAB in Unity.

The default application switcher takes 0.5 seconds to load, far too slow. Some other Compiz application switcher are fast enough, but they make me sick because everything is moving on the screen.

Call me conservative, but the old Gnome application switcher was perfect for me:

Extremely fast Just show the icon (maybe window title too), not a miniature of each window. Does not move icons around, just a cursor moving from one icon to the next. All icons are visible at the same time (not just 3 of them for instance).

Any way to get this behaviour?


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stinkeye, thanks, I wasn't aware of the scale stuff. But I usually work on a laptop, so I really dislike having to use the mouse to switch windows. I work on the keyboard as much as possible, so that's not a good solution either.

Mr_JMM, splitting related tasks across viewports is possible, but working around Unity isn't really the best option. Fixing Unity is the way to go.

It's not a long pause, but I lose the flow of what I'm doing every time I have to stop and search and do something like that manually. That opens up for mistakes. I often work on many things over a period of time, but when I'm focused it's often a matter of changing something one place, and testing another place. It works, but it's not good, and it's not an improvement.

Who thinks Unity's alt-tab behaviour is better than the old behaviour? And why? I just don't get it, help me out! Am I using it wrong, or is everyone working around it and just accepting...

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Last Updated August 10, 2017 21:02 PM

Say I have emacs and 3 terminal windows open. This is the way unity organizes them:

one window group for emacs one window group for the 3 terminals

With Alt+Tab I can switch from emacs to the active terminal in the group and back. But if I want to switch to any of the non-active terminal windows I have to:

Alt+Tab to switch to terminal group release to activate the (active) window in the group Ctrl+Tab (or whatever shortcut you have for that) to flip through the windows in the group release to activate the new window

This is not at all what I want. I want a simple Alt+Tab to cycle through all windows in the current workspace. I do not want unity to create window groups. How can I change this?

Note: I do not want at all to use the mouse for this.

Answers 3

This worked for...

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I'm using Unity 2D as my desktop, and it works fine most of the time, but every now and then, I try to Alt-Tab to switch to a different application, and instead of switching to that window, the launcher bar opens, and the icon of the application I was trying to switch to starts jiggling.

If I try to switch to something else, that icon starts jiggling too. If I click on the icon with the mouse, then it stops jiggling and switches to the requested window.

What is this behavior? I haven't seen any mention of jiggling icons in Unity. I don't understand the original purpose of this, and I'd like a way to fix it so that I won't have to use the mouse.

EDIT: I get that this is a bug, but someone must have had to code that jiggling effect. What is it used for? Is it some relic of old behavior, or something new that hasn't been implemented yet, what?


Unfortunately this is a bug, so there's not...

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Unity, DX11, and exclusive fullscreen mode.

This thread is for the devs, mainly.

I dug around and finally understood why Unity simply refuses to run in true fullscreen, aka exlusive fullscreen.

As a dev you basically have two choices when building the game, either you force everybody to use exclusive, or you give the choice between windowed and fullscreen windowed, aka fake fullscreen.

The problem with fullscreen windowed is that it lowers performances by quite a lot, and adds input lag.

I know that if you alt tab in the current build of Unity, while using exclusive fullscreen, the game will simply crash.

I understand that it's probably something you want to avoid, but for some people, alt tabbing never happens, and we would greatly benefit from using exclusive fullscreen mode.

Apparently you can "switch" at any time when you upload a new build but of course this would require a separate build branch.

The only workaround...

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For X11 systems I was trying to change the icon of the application during run time. This means that the window icon should change, the icon showed in alt+tab menu, and the icon in the unity bar.

This is preview of ubuntu:

ubuntu doesnt have a window icon, but other operating systems like metacity do.

So I was thinking of using XChangeProperty like this:

unsigned int buffer[] = {16, 16, 4294901760..............., 32, 32, 0............}; //ARGB 32bit packed array Display *d = XOpenDisplay(0); int s = DefaultScreen(d); Atom net_wm_icon = XInternAtom(d, "_NET_WM_ICON", False); Atom cardinal = XInternAtom(d, "CARDINAL", False); XEvent e; //w == window int length = 2 + 16 * 16 + 2 + 32 * 32; XChangeProperty(d, w, net_wm_icon, cardinal, 32, PropModeReplace, (const unsigned char*) buffer, length); XMapWindow(d, w); while(1) XNextEvent(d, &e);

I do this code in js-ctypes, but the above is C code i found during my research, will this work for running...

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This is a very simple configuration tool I made to save time browsing folders and adding values in Gconf, or writing commands in the terminal to customize certain aspects of the new Unity-2D Desktop.

There’s not much to tweak under the current version of Unity-2D. However, there are certain times -Specially while I’m running Ubuntu on a VM- that I want to set the Launcher to be hidden or vice versa, and Compositing Manager makes it look way better (Near regular Unity) adding window edge shadows, transparency in the Dash and Alt-Tab Switching thumbnail previews.

Download (.deb Installer): Compatible only with 11.04 Natty Narwhal

An updated version for 11.10 oneiric can be found in this post and for 12.04 Precise LTS in this post.

Notes: If you click the compositing manager checkbox, hit “Alt+Tab” to refresh your desktop since by enabled-disabled you get a black screen.
The ‘Always Show’ option for the launcher is tricky to set when it’s...

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Unity3D does not ship with the tabbed UI, however, we can cheat to implement this!

The key ideas include:

To use Toggle control To make Toggle control look like a tab control

The following code illustrates how this is done:

private int iTabSelected = 0; public void OnGUI() { GUILayout.BeginVertical(); { GUILayout.BeginHorizontal(); { if (GUILayout.Toggle(iTabSelected == 0, "Tab1", EditorStyles.toolbarButton)) iTabSelected = 0; if (GUILayout.Toggle(iTabSelected == 1, "Tab2", EditorStyles.toolbarButton)) iTabSelected = 1; } GUILayout.EndHorizontal(); //Draw different UI according to iTabSelected DoGUI(iTabSelected); } GUILayout.EndVertical(); }

The EditorStyles.toolbarButton is important to make the toggle control look like a tab!

Given the iTabSelected variable, we can then draw different UI accordingly:

private void DoGUI(int iTabSelected) { if (iTabSelected == 0) { ...
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There are some features missing in Ubuntu 11.10/12.04 like the possibility to create a



desktop shortcut

) from the context menu and also there is no button to click in the Unity launcher to show the desktop.

We have previously seen many tutorials explaining the alternative methods for creating desktop


under Oneiric, today we will see another method that consists of adding a "

Show Desktop

" button to the Unity launcher of Ubuntu 11.10/12.04. This will be useful especially when we have many running windows and want to minimize them all in a single click.

Note: As a reminder, you can use Ctrl+Alt+D to show the desktop or simply show the desktop from the Alt-Tab Menu.

Method 1 (Recommended)

Install first CCSM with this command:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Then launch it from the Unity Dash:

In the left browsing menu, click Desktop, then in the...

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EDIT: See nomortal2's reply for answer that worked for me

Hello there, I'm working on my very first project and after facing nothing but frustration with GUIText and Layouts (all for Android) I decided to just use sprites.

Unfortunately, I think I am misunderstanding how exactly to setup such a code, most of the examples I find leave off the part where they declare things, and that is the part I don't understand well yet.

My question is, if I have a Sprite, and I want to click it,how do I make an instance of that sprite? I think this about declaring the variables in the beginning of the code but I am just really confused.

The error I am returned is "Object Reference not set to instance of an object" @ line Vector2 = new...

if (Input.GetMouseButtonDown (0)) { Debug.Log ("Clicked"); Vector2 pos = new Vector2(Input.mousePosition.x, Input.mousePosition.y); RaycastHit2D hitInfo = Physics2D.Raycast(Camera.main.ScreenToWorldPoint(pos), ...
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To customize the launcher behavior click on the launcher icon in the Unity tool.

The launcher behavior screen is split into three sections:


By default the launcher is always visible. You can however maximize screen real estate by making the launcher hide until the mouse pointer is moved to either the left side or the top corner.

To do this simply slide the auto-hide to on. You can then choose a fade transition theme and choose whether the user should move the mouse to the left or the top corner for the launcher to appear.

There is a slider control which lets you adjust the sensitivity.

Also in the behavior section is a checkbox which allows you to minimize applications when you click on them.

The appearance section lets you adjust the background of the launcher.

There is a slider to adjust the transparency level and you can set the background based on the wallpaper or a solid color.

Finally, the icons...

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Unity provides a number of video tutorials that walk you through the process of creating a simple game. The first in the series provides instructions for creating the Roll-a-ball application, in which you use the keyboard or gamepad to control a ball that rolls around a game board and picks up floating token counters:

The development process is covered in eight short video tutorials which run from around five to fifteen minutes in length. Allow for a few hours to complete the procedure.

The final video in the series, "107. Publishing the game," describes building the Roll-a-ball game for play in a web browser. You may skip this lesson if you wish for the purposes of this exercise, as we will follow a different procedure for building a playable application (PC/Mac) or APK (Android).

Note: We refer to the assets, folders, and so forth by the names used in the Unity tutorial, so it is helpful to follow the...

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I'm using the 0.4.4 unity sdk and DX11 for our app, Convrge. Whenever the app is running in extended mode and a user alt+tab's to another window it freezes the unity app with a white screen. Audio still works, however the only way to exit the app is to sign out of your windows account or restart your pc. Not sure if this is related but when you try to open the windows app in windowed mode it instead opens it in full screen.

You can reproduce the results by downloading the windows build from

I've tried creating a clean unity project and copying the Assets folder from my main project across to no luck. Appreciate ideas on how to solve this....

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This is a guest post from Ahmed Kamal and Jorge O. Castro, who will be posting Unity updates over the coming weeks (Original Post)

Welcome to another installment of the Unity report. This week sees the new alt-tab landing (which is currently bound to ctrl-tab), here’s what it looks like:

Unity Contributor Activity This Week

Andrea Azzarone just pushed tons of work for improving launcher device management. Andrea has added a ccsm option to show/hide external devices on launcher, ccsm options enable you to choose to display all devices, only mounted devices or none! Improvements also include a “Keep in launcher” quicklist item also for external devices. Apart from that, Andrea also committed some unity performance improvements to avoid uncessassry X round trips

Marco Trevisan fixes window title fade effects, which was broken on Oneiric, yaay!

Treviсo also improves openGL detection code for locales that use a comma to represent numerical...

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To get the behavior you want you need to do a few things in addition to stopping the pop-up delay:

Install CCSM if not installed already. apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager from the terminal or search for "Advanced Desktop Effects Settings (CCSM)" in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Select the System Settings option in the power button menu (top right corner) and launch CCSM from there.

For Ubuntu 13.04 (Ringtail) This may also work with > 12.10; unfortunately Unity changes significantly between versions.

Select the 'Ubuntu Unity Plugin' in 'Desktop'.

Under the 'Switcher' tab un-tick 'Show live previews of windows in the switcher'.

I'm not sure the popup delay exists in 13.04; I don't seem to notice any on my machine at least.

This section also allows you to swap the bindings of the switcher for all viewports and the viewport switcher.

For Ubuntu < 12.04

Select the Static Application Switcher in 'Window...

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For those who dislike the glossy square tile backgrounds in the Unity Launcher icons and Alt-Tab Switcher, Without changing GTK theme, there’s a simple script called unity-flatify-icons to “flatten Ubuntu Unity’s launcher icons”.

The script does not flatten the application icons, it accurately removes the tile backgrounds for un-opened application icons, and for opened applications uses new flat style boxes.

It also removes the background cube from the Alt-Tab Switcher:

To get started:

1. Download the script from github page:

After downloaded the archive, extract it and you’ll get the folder.

2. Open terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T), run commands to navigate to that folder, and run the script:

cd ~/Downloads/unity-flatify-icons-master/


While the script is running, type your password when it prompts and hit Enter.

To apply changes, just log out and back in.

Restore the original...

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I have a quite simple class that handle item dragging using the following events :

public void OnBeginDrag(PointerEventData eventDat) public void OnDrag(PointerEventData eventData) public void OnEndDrag(PointerEventData eventDat) public void OnDrop(PointerEventData eventData)

OnDrag moves the item based on mousePosition. OnDrop/OnEndDrop move it back to its original position.

It works fines, unless the user switch the app while dragging, for instance using alt+tab on windows. Then, when switch back to the app OnEndDrag or OnDrop are never called. So the item position can not be reset. But at the same time OnDrag is not anymore called , so it's like the dragging have ended, without event.

It looks like a bug for me, but maybe it is not , and I should listen to another event, but I have no idea which one ...

Did anybody had the same problem, or have an idea how I could fix that ?


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Hey All,

While performing a beta test recently, one of our users alt tabbed out of our full screen unity game back to the desktop. After Alt Tabbing back in, the game resumed but would kick the user to the desktop (not crashing the game, just changing focus) without any input from the user whatsoever. I haven't been able to repeat the issue on other machines and would hope it's some kind of a driver/hardware issue (the drivers on the machine were from 2010).

That being said though, has anyone encountered something similar? Is there a way to refresh the graphics context when such an event occurs. Seeing as it recovers gracefully every time I've tried it on other machines, I'm assuming Unity does that refresh under the...

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Unity (and Gnome 3 for that matter) go well beyond what many minimalists want to see in a UI. Indeed I wasn't even a fan of Gnome 2 for the same reason. I prefer LXDE, XFCE, and Ice because they add enough features to make some common processes simpler without getting in the way themselves. That said I have no issue with the terminal and for many things I prefer it.

Canoncal made the choice to chase the mainstream with Unity hoping for wider adoption because they do want to make money after all. So to do that they added a lot of shiny and unnecessary window dressing to intrigue the fickle consumer space. Prior to this Gnome was the lowest common denominator desktop for many, a desktop people like me were willing to put up with to collaborate with people that felt more comfortable with it. Now many people are seeking other options.

Personally I have three o/s's on my laptop. I have Debian LXDE for my own use, Linux Mint with Mate to tutor/collaborate with folks (it replaced...

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What is a Keyboard Shortcut?

Keyboard shortcuts are simply key combinations that you can press which initiate actions that you would normally perform via menus and icons.

Why is this important? Research shows that whilst menus and icons are great for new users, they are long-winded and can become tiresome for more experienced users. So, once you know your way around Unity, it will often pay dividends to memorise the many keyboard shortcuts available in order to save yourself time!

Note: there are some shortcuts (-such as Super + W) that implement features we cannot find via the standard Unity desktop!

Available Keyboard Shortcuts in Unity

The majority of Unity keyboard shortcuts can be viewed by holding down the Super (-also known as the Option or Windows) key. This will display a help overlay on your desktop similar to the one below:

For those of you with less than perfect eyesight, here is a list of what we find are the most...

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If you are an Ubuntu user, the Unity Tweak Tool is an indispensable asset, especially if you want to customize your operating system.

Unity is not one of the most popular desktop environments out there. It's being developed by Canonical for its Ubuntu operating system and one of the main complaints about it is that it can't be easily customized.

Unity was not built from scratch; it relies a lot on GNOME, which means that the old GNOME Tweak Tool actually works, for the most part, on Unity. At least, that was true until Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, which seems to not agree with the GNOME Tweak Tool.

That is ok, because we still have Unity Tweak Tool, which is a superior application, with only one drawback, which we will discuss later.


Since it's such a useful application, you can find it in the official Ubuntu repositories. Don't be afraid of the version number, which is 0.0.6. This is a very stable application that comes with such a wealth of features...

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