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I love pretty much everything about how Gnome Shell handles app-switching through Alt+Tab. My one gripe with it, though, is how it forces the user to use Alt+` to switch between windows of the same app. This is very annoying for me, because now I have to keep in mind if the last window I was using belonged to the same app as the current window or not. Definitely a nuisance for power users who thinks in terms of "windows I'm working with" instead of "applications I'm working on".

I've tried the AlternateTab extension ( ), but it's looks way too ugly for me. Not to mention that in the end all I want is to remap Alt+(key above tab) to Alt+Tab on this application. I guess one option would be to just tweak Gnome-shell. My guess is that I should tinker with the altTab.js file at /usr/share/gnome-shell/js/ui/, but the file is too long and overwhelming for someone like me, who doesn't know JavaScript.

Does anyone know how I can make Gnome Shell stop grouping windows by applications?

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Thanks for the Alt + `. I've been google for this for a while now. – Kugel Oct 30 '12 at 22:48
Thanks! I found the answer I was looking for in your question :) Alt + ` – mimoralea Apr 27 '15 at 14:20
@mimoralea, glad I could help. Too bad the shell is not intuitive enough. – Waldir Leoncio Apr 27 '15 at 17:56
up vote 33 down vote accepted

From the comment by 'xaeth' on this Ergo Project blog post, I have learned that Alt+Esc will cycle through all windows without grouping by application. This was the simplest solution for me, and I'm glad it saved me from having to install other programs.

If testing with Alt+Esc turns out favorably for you, then you can go to System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Navigation and reassign Alt+Tab to perform the navigation task that was previously assigned to Alt+Esc. In my settings this task is named 'Switch windows directly'.

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Thank you very much for your tip, it really works! Now if I could just figure out how to get rid of that thick black frame around the selected window and have it display that "selection box" Alt+Tab gives I'll be in heaven. :) – Waldir Leoncio Sep 30 '12 at 11:31
It doesn't give the same behavior. The expected behavior is to quick jump to the needed window. This is kind of a scroll jump, meaning you scroll over each windows, need to visually process each view until you stop at the desired one. – AlikElzin-kilaka Nov 22 '14 at 4:53
Does not unstack the windows for me, nor allow me to cycle through windows. It still cycles through applications. Maybe I should login again? Weird. – Lodewijk Feb 16 '15 at 7:01
@Manu thanks. i just replaced the link with its 'wayback machine' equivalent.… (i just wanted to give credit to the original blogger. the link doesn't add too much info.) – pestophagous Aug 21 '15 at 15:49
  • Open dconf-editor
  • Go to org/gnome/desktop/wm/keybindings
  • Move the value '<Alt>Tab' from switch-applications to switch-windows
  • Optionally move '<Shift><Alt>Tab' from switch-applications-backward to switch-windows-backward
  • Close dconf-editor
  • Press <Alt>F2, then type r to restart Gnome.

The last step does not always appear to be necessary, but it should not hurt (especially since it does not close any of your running applications).

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I'm surprised that people are so readily installing third-party application switchers in favour of reconfiguring Gnome in place. This to me is a much more desirable solution than most others presented. – scarl3tt Aug 11 '15 at 0:50
Presumably the good extensions are just a script to automate this process. I certainly agree with you that configuration is the optimal solution when possible. – Mad Physicist Aug 12 '15 at 14:29

Little help -

Alt+Tab and then when you have grouped windows Alt+` helps a bit.

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I'm aware of that, my question is actually about assigning Alt+Tab for switching windows no matter what their relationship with the last active window. I'll update the question to make it clearer. – Waldir Leoncio Feb 27 '12 at 19:56

The Windows Alt Tab extension by tglman is very useful. You can also fork it on GitHub.

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This is the real answer to the question! – Елин Й. Mar 31 '13 at 21:48
Exactly what I was searching for and very simple to install – Pierre de LESPINAY Aug 7 '14 at 11:37


Substitute Alt-Tab with a window based switcher that does not group by application. This extension is part of Classic Mode and is officially supported by GNOME. Please do not report bugs using the form below, use GNOME Bugzilla instead.

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This post has shed some light on the subject. By accessing apps -> metacity -> global_keybindings on gconf-editor there's a key called switch_group, which is mapped to <Alt>Above_Tab. Changing that to <Alt>Tab should solve the issue.

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Hi wleoncio, the above post is telling about a different problem (compared with the question). I tried with your answer, but nothing happened – Hoàng Long May 30 '12 at 7:39

You can use the a different application switcher - can enabled using compizconfig-settings-manager.

See good info on CompizConfig in Ubuntu. It can also be installed on openSUSE and probably other distributions.

Result example: enter image description here

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Using fedora 23 you can do the following

Install alternate-tab (was already installed for me)

sudo dnf install gnome-shell-extension-alternate-tab

Run pref editor


Then enable it

enter image description here

DONE, alt tab is no longer lame. Also its not some hack like the above with changing the keyboard short cuts. Alt-tab will still show the popup with thumbnails etc, just not grouped.

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You can use the terminal instead of dconf-editor


dconf write /org/gnome/desktop/wm/keybindings/switch-windows "['<Alt>Tab']"


gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-windows "['<alt>Tab']"

(As a regular user - not root!!!)

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