Can Budgie do switch-applications like Ubuntu/GNOME?

Ubuntu uses GNOME, and both Ubuntu and Fedora/GNOME are apparently able to switch between application-centric task switching (switch-applications) and window-centric task switching (switch-windows) by simply setting the keyboard shortcut for one of these options to Alt+Tab and disabling or changing the other. This causes the task switcher to behave completely differently from the other mode, and in application-centric task switching every window belonging to one “application” is brought forward when Alt+Tabbing. This is like macOS, and this is what I am looking for.

I tried the same procedure on Ubuntu Budgie 20.10 and the task switcher did not change its behavior from being window-centric (i.e., there is a separate icon in the Alt+Tab switcher dialog for every single open window in every application). I am just taking a wild guess that this is because Budgie is doing its own thing as far as task switching is concerned.

So I’m here to ask if it is possible to convert Budgie to switching between applications, and showing only one icon in the task switcher for each application, and treating all associated application windows as a group?

Or is this something that would have to be implemented with new code?

What window switcher are you referring to? The built-in one, or Previews (Menu → Previews Control)? The latter seems to do pretty much what you describe in the first alinea.

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 (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.

That’s what is in-built with Previews that Jacob mentioned.

Sure - any desktop can be as smart as the effort that users put into it. So, yes its missing out of the box - to resolve will need logic adding to the existing alt-tab mechanism.

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Ah. I suspected.

So if I want it, I should try to post it as an issue/feature request on the Solus Budgie Desktop GitHub?

Probably the first few here covers this

#1633 looked similar at first but seems to be mostly talking about a bug in the switcher.

There is a mention of “grouping” but I think that is referring to the grouping of each application’s windows into one icon on the task manager on the top panel.

I don’t actually see anything else relevant on the list when searching “application switch” or “task switch”. The Alt+` “switch within application” function works fine already. So I don’t know why #1323 is still open.

What I’m looking for is different. I guess I’ll have to submit a feature request.

Thanks for your time and feedback.

Edit: Submitted.

Can someone explain why #1633 is supposedly a duplicate of my submitted request? They talk about grouped applications yet I can find no apparent way to activate any kind of grouped applications task switching mode in Budgie.

I see all of these options in the keyboard settings:

Switch applications
Switch windows
Switch windows directly
Switch windows of an app directly
Switch windows of an application

None of these options seems to do what I’m looking for or what I put in my feature request.

There is also no option to group application windows in Budgie Desktop Settings → Windows. Nor does Preview Control seem to have any related option.

And I was wrong, the Alt+` (Alt+Grave) functionality of switching between windows within the same application is definitely broken.

Now I’m completely lost.

I am guessing here that the marked duplicate is still open and is - in the eyes of the maintainer - the same issue

I just need a simple question answered. Is there already supposed to be the ability somewhere in Budgie to group all of each application’s windows together under a single icon in the Alt+Tab switcher? Is this person referring to existing functionality in Budgie, or something they wish was happening? There is only this one short sentence that seems to have any relationship with what I’m talking about.

using using Alt+Tab I don't see grouping working at all **multiple windows** of Firefox, Chrome etc **show up as different instances of that application in the switcher**.

They say here, “I don’t see grouping working,” but that implies to me that grouping should be working. As if it was already an expected feature in Budgie in 2018. Is this not the case?

alt+tab does not group windows for the same app. It never has.

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That’s what I thought. Thanks.

icon-tasks-list in a panel ( or in a panel-as-a-dock ) do windows grouping per app’ and has some settings available :

It’s rather mouse-driven than keyboard-driven but very efficient. Even with workspaces.

In action, first are click on the icon ( minimize / show all windows ) then mouse-wheel on icon ( cycle through windows ) :

Thanks for taking a moment to offer an alternative.

Yes, there are many mouse-focused interfaces like that. That’s virtually identical to the behavior in the KDE version which they call the “Icons-Only Task Manager” widget. And there is always Plank, which I mentioned.

But I am a heavy keyboard shortcut user. I prefer this functionality to be available through Alt+Tab/Alt+Grave, just as it is in macOS/Ubuntu/GNOME. Trying to work with a UI like that with a laptop touchpad is less convenient than it might be with a good mouse, and far less convenient than using the keyboard shortcuts burned into my muscle memory. Also I have a habit of keeping all panels hidden as much as possible to increase usable screen space. On my Mac, I hide the Dock on the left side, and also hide the menu bar, and frequently I’ll go several hours working in all sorts of applications without needing to reveal either of them.

As you have just noted, the functionality of “application-centric” task switching basically already exists in things like Plank and this icon-tasks-list applet, and developers and users had good reason to want those features and take the time to implement them. This makes it all the more surprising that there seems to be little interest in providing this feature choice to Budgie users via the Alt+Tab switcher. All you have to do is replace clicking an icon on the panel with Alt+Tabbing, and scrolling through windows with the mouse with Alt+Graving. It’s exactly the same thing. Just using the keyboard.