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Is there a way, in bash command line, to give focus to a specific window of a running process. Assume I know the process' name, number, and anything else I need.

For instance, if I have a single instance of Firefox running, but it's minimized (or there's some other window on top of it). I need a bash command that brings up and gives focus to the Firefox window, by making it the active window.

0
88

The wmctrl command seems to do the job. It was already installed for me, but it's available in the repositories in case anyone needs it.

wmctrl -l 

Lists currently open windows (including the gnome panels).

wmctrl -a STRING

Gives focus to a window containing STRING in its title. I'm not sure what happens if more than one window meets that condition.
In my case the command was:

wmctrl -a Firefox
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  • 6
    Nice to see someone is reading and I'm not just rambling to myself. =) – Malabarba May 20 '10 at 14:59
  • 1
    Also try xdotool. – Andres Riofrio Apr 25 '12 at 7:04
  • 1
    This is awesome for setting focus back to gdb (debugger) when it launches a debugger target with a window that steals focus, like kvm. Use gdb command shell wmctrl -a something, where something is something in your debugger terminal title. – doug65536 Oct 25 '16 at 3:46
  • Thanks so much, this is pure gold, I was afraid I lost all of my pending work in some Chrome window that just disappeared in the background somehow, it worked! – Osmar Jan 15 '19 at 21:45
  • > I'm not sure what happens if more than one window meets that condition — It seems to just select the first one in the -l list, regardless of which one most recently had focus or which desktop is currently visible. You can use -i to specify the window by its numeric ID, which you could get from the list, but you'd need some way to determine which window you're interested in. – Michael Scheper Feb 23 at 1:43
12

Using wmctrl in combination with xdotool you can switch focus to Firefox and then perform keyboard or mouse actions.

In this example:

wmctrl -R firefox && \
  xdotool key --clearmodifiers ctrl+t ctrl+l && \
  xdotool type --delay=250 google && \
  xdotool key --clearmodifiers Tab Return

The following steps are executed:

  1. Give focus to the first matching Firefox window
  2. Open a new browser tab
  3. Puts focus in the address bar
  4. Type "google"
  5. Tab to the first browser auto-complete result
  6. Press the Return (or Enter) key
6

How's the below script that I use in my ubuntu pc? use case is like this.

   $ ./focus_win.sh 1            # focus on a application window that executed at first
   $ ./focus_win.sh 2            # second executed application window

I'm using it after assigning it in keyboard custom shortcut. ctrl+1, ctrl+2, ...

cat focus_win.sh

#! /bin/sh

if [ "" = "$1" ] ; then
    echo "usage $0 <win index>"
    exit 1;
fi

WIN_ID=`wmctrl -l | cut -d ' ' -f1 | head -n $1 | tail -n 1`

if [ "" = "$WIN_ID" ] ; then
    echo "fail to get win id of index $1"
    exit 1;
fi
wmctrl -i -a $WIN_ID
1

On Wayland, sadly wmctrl and xdotool do not function. Instead we can talk to the window manager.

For Gnome, we can run gdbus to send a DBUS message to execute some GJS (JavaScript bindings for the GNOME C APIs).

To focus a window:

$ gdbus call \
  --session \
  --dest org.gnome.Shell \
  --object-path /org/gnome/Shell \
  --method org.gnome.Shell.Eval "
var mw =
  global.get_window_actors()
    .map(w=>w.meta_window)
    .find(mw=>mw.get_title().includes('Firefox'));
mw && mw.activate(0)"

See also:

You can play around with what's possible in GJS using Gnome's 'Looking Glass' debugger: Alt+F2, and run lg

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