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Thread: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

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  1. #1
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    What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    Hi,

    Does anyone know the reason Unity has such idiotic alt-tab behaviour? If I have a browser with a download window, and two terminals open, all in one viewport, it's fsck-ing impossible to switch to the window I want without clicking all over the place. Alt-tab to the correct group, then alt-down to see which window is selected, and alt-tab or alt-shift-tab or alt-left/alt-right to change to the correct window?

    The old switcher which changed to the previous window when hitting alt-tab was MUCH MUCH better for working on something that requires changing windows often. My productivity is lower because of this annoyance, and I have no idea what the big idea behind this grouping business is. It's certainly not solving any of my problems.

    Rant!

    Please change the behaviour, Mr. Unity developer...?

  2. #2
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    Re: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    You must have a different version of Unity than me..

    I hit alt-tab, the window appears with all the apps, if I have more than one of teh same application running (common is Firefox or terminal) I highlight that app, pause and it splits into the different windows.

    Granted, not as easy as showing every window individually but I persoanlly prefer it. No clicking involved.
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  3. #3
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    Re: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    What you describe is exactly what I have. But if I have two terminals and a browser on the same window, it takes too long to switch from one terminal to the other. And if I have 8 terminals, it's not easy keeping track of which is which!

    This all used to be much better. Switching to another window of the program I'm running almost always requires the waiting you say or alt-arrowdown, otherwise it often (but not always) stays on the same window. WTF, why did Unity think I clicked alt-tab in the first place?

    In my opinion, this new behaviour is a usability disaster. It is for me anyway, and it's certainly not simple to revert the behaviour. The recipes online using ccsm doesn't work out of the box for Ubuntu 12.10, so they're not much help either.

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    Re: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    When I'm in a similar situation, with mulitple terminal windows open I put them on a different workspace and if they're not related I split them to different workspaces. You will still have the slight pause to slect a window but you won't have to worry about other non-related applications.

    Other than that, you could go back to gnome, I believe that has the older style.

    [edit] Wait, how long is your pause? For me it's barely more than a blink before the application splits and shows me numerous terminal windows which I can easily see the contents of.
    Last edited by Mr_JMM; November 15th, 2012 at 03:49 PM.
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    Re: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    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 it?

  6. #6
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    Re: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    I just wanted to note, alt+~ will switch between windows of one app, so if you're in firefox, and want that download window (get a status bar download addon *cough*) you can press alt+~ to easily get to it.
    That also works while alt tabbing, so alt+tab over to terminal group, then alt+~ to tab through it's open windows.
    Last edited by jerome1232; November 15th, 2012 at 04:05 PM.
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    Re: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    Use Alt+TAB to switch between different apps.
    Use Alt+` (the key above TAB) to switch between different windows of the same app (different terminals, browser windows, etc.)

    It is SO EASY and exactly the same as Mac OS. (by which Unity is heavily insipred) If you take a few minutes to read the Unity shortcut keys (maybe print them out and tape them to your desk/wall) then you will not be so confused/frustrated.

  8. #8
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    Re: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    Hold alt and press tab.
    When you come to grouped windows continue holding alt and press ~ (key above tab)to cycle through the grouped windows.

    I find scale better to select windows.
    Enable the scale and scale addons plugins in ccsm.

    I set the top edge+button1 to initiate scale for all windows.
    The scale addons[/B] plugin allows you to, while in scale mode,
    zoom windows with right mouse and close windows with middle click.
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    Last edited by stinkeye; November 15th, 2012 at 03:51 PM.

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    Re: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    Quote Originally Posted by stinkeye View Post
    Hold alt and press tab.
    When you come to grouped windows continue holding alt and press ~ (key above tab)to cycle through the grouped windows.
    I never knew that, it works really well.

  10. #10
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    Re: What's with the alt-tab behaviour in Unity?

    Yeah, and I'm with you on this. I still don't see how this is so great. Browsers for example have moved from multiple windows to multiple tabs, and ctrl-tab/ctrl-shift-tab can be used to flip through those easily. Now I have alt-tab, ctrl-tab AND alt-|. How many levels of this stuff do we need? And with this behaviour, I'd hope it was at least consistent by making alt-| switch windows within application and alt-tab switch between apps. But no, in some cases alt-tab and alt-| bring me to the same window (eg firefox's download window when using firefox).

    I do see how some applications perhaps have multiple windows that you'd want to switch between, then perhaps use a browser a bit, and then return to your app and flip through app windows later. But I certainly don't think unity has made my life easier in any way at all. And it must be so easy to add an option for MRU alt-tab behaviour... It's very frustrating.

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