I’m referring to the built-in switcher that comes up when you press Alt+Tab. It looks like most other app switchers in other DEs and operating systems. A simple dialog in the center of the screen with a row of icons, one for each open window.
I don’t see how the Preview Control settings helps. It seems to just make the app switcher show previews for each window rather than icons. I generally don’t find window previews helpful at all. And I see no option to group windows by application.
I want the app switcher to basically work like Plank Dock. In Plank, you see only one icon per application no matter how many windows of that application are open, and if you click on the icon it brings forward all of that application’s open windows, as a group. So that if you close one of the windows, you’re still in the same “application” until the last window of that application is closed. Click another application icon, it brings forward all of that application’s windows. And so on. Each application is treated as a group that is bound together.
This is the way that macOS and Ubuntu/Fedora/GNOME in “switch-applications” mode works. Just try running Fedora 34 Beta GNOME in a VM and you’ll see what I mean. By default it behaves like macOS, basically.
With window-centric switching, I can open 6 windows in the file manager and 6 Firefox windows and see 12 total icons in the app switcher. Without using workspaces or some other tool to separate windows, this quickly becomes overwhelming and difficult to manage. You have to use the mouse to hit Tab way too many times to get to random windows in the stack.
With application-centric switching enabled in Ubuntu, I would see only two icons, one for each application group. Switching to Firefox would bring all 6 Firefox windows to the front. And using Alt+` (Alt+Grave) lets you switch between windows within the same application, so you can just bring a single window forward if you want to. So it’s more like moving through a hierarchical list of windows separated into groups. Very orderly, once you get used to it.
Coming from a couple of decades of living in macOS, I find the windows-centric method very unpleasant. Budgie seems nice, and I’ve been able to use Kinto.sh (by Ben Reaves) to enable my familiar macOS keyboard shortcuts. Now I want to know if Budgie is capable of enabling this macOS-style task switching. Since applications like Plank basically already do exactly that, it doesn’t seem like it should be too difficult to copy the functionality if necessary.
It’s nice to see that Budgie is at least smart enough to show multiple rows of icons in the app switcher rather than stretching all across the screen. Cinnamon couldn’t do that. One day in Cinnamon I ended up with a single row of icons in the task switcher that shrank so small to fit on the screen that I could hardly tell what they were. LOL.