Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Due to habits formed over the years, I tend to click on the "x" icon in a Skype session running on Windows to minimize it however when I do the same on Linux Mint 11, it is sent to the background and there doesn't appear to be a way to bring it back to the foreground without me killing the running instance. Is there a better way?


When I run the command nohup skype &, it seems brings Skype back to the foreground however am logged out. I am then unable to log back in without killing the process. The command fg %processid seems to be limited to jobs


I am running Linux Mint 11, with Gnome 2. I believe the window manager is Metacity.

share|improve this question
Is it possible you're mixing terms here? "Background" to fg and friends are about disconnecting from the controlling tty. Click on an X in a windowed session is going to do whatever the active X Window Manager and Desktop (Xfce, Gnome's Metacity, KDE, etc) is configured to do, like minimizing to a "tray", etc. – ckhan May 6 '12 at 5:57
@ckhan - No. The reason being is that the application has gone to the background however I can still see messages appearing in the taskbar however am unable to launch Skype. If I run the command ps aux | grep 'skype', I see it running however am unable to access it unless I run the command kill %processid or killall skype. – PeanutsMonkey May 6 '12 at 7:03
That's not inconsistent with my comment: I'm saying that "background" can mean two different things in different contexts, and we'll need to know which one you're trying to foreground. In both cases, the process is still alive. Can you tell us a little more about your Linux Mint setup - which desktop, which window manager, screenshot of the X icon you're clicking? – ckhan May 6 '12 at 7:15
@ckhan - No worries. Have updated my post with additional details. I am however keen to understand what you mean by 2 different things in 2 different contexts. What do you mean exactly? – PeanutsMonkey May 7 '12 at 2:18
I mean that background processes is completely unrelated and orthogonal to X Window iconification. It sounds like Skype is iconified, and what you want to enable is whatever facility Metacity/Gnome supplies for deiconififcation. Sounds like @Ignacio has a hint in his answer. – ckhan May 7 '12 at 5:16
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It sounds like Skype has been iconified (aka minimized) - not the same as backgrounded, which is orthogonal. You likely want to enable whatever GUI affordance, like Notification Areas, the window manager provides for raising a window.

But your question was specifically about a command line tool - for that, consider one of these two:

  • xdotool - uses XTEST to mimic any input
  • wmctrl - interacts directly with WM

Both readily installable by apt-get install. Both seem to work well.

For wmctrl, I was able to deiconify (raise) my minimized Emacs window simply by typing this at a command prompt:

$ wmctrl -a emacs

As long as skype is in the Window name, I bet it would work well. Use wmctrl -l to get a list of current windows.

share|improve this answer
Thanks. Didn't know that there was even a term call iconified that meant minimized. What do mean by orthogonal? – PeanutsMonkey May 9 '12 at 4:00
orthogonal == completely unrelated, independent of – ckhan May 9 '12 at 5:35

Add a Notification Area to a panel so that you can see your tray icons, including Skype's.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.