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Is there a way in Gnome Shell to define a shortcut that will bring up the Overview such that the Workspace List is already showing and available for clicking -- similar to the viewport selector in Compiz?

Note: I'm using Gnome's terminology for this question.

I have recently (been forcibly) migrated to Gnome 3/Gnome Shell on RHEL7 (from Gnome 2/Compiz on Ubuntu 10). As I can't function without 9 virtual workspaces in a 3x3 layout, the loss of Gnome Panel and Gnome Workspace Switcher has been painful.

However, I've found a number of Extensions/tools that have made the experience tolerable. These include

  • Workspace Grid, which transforms the Workspace List into a 2-D grid (both conceptually and in the Workspace List overlay)
  • dconf-editor, which reveals that keyboard shortcuts can be assigned for instantaneous switching to up to 12 workspaces

All I'm missing now is a quick way to view all of my workspaces at once (a la Compiz) and select any of them with my mouse. (Yes, I can switch to any workspace I want with the keyboard, but sometimes I prefer to use the mouse.)

My current approach is to either

  • bring up the Overview in Windows mode using the "hot corner" or the shortcut org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings.panel-main-menu and then move my mouse to the right edge of the screen to un-hide the Workspace List, or
  • bring up the Overview in Applications mode using shortcut org.gnome.shell.keybindings.toggle-application-view and then hit Esc to reveal both the Windows and Workspace List overlays.

Both of these approaches require more key presses and/or mouse movement than was necessary with Compiz. I did find two other Extensions that almost do what I need:

  • WorkspaceBar, which adds a clickable 1-D workspace selector (but no overview, although the bar does behave like an additional "hot corner")
  • Frippery Bottom Panel, which adds a quasi-2-D workspace selector (but the interface is actually clumsier to use than that of WorkspaceBar, and again no overview)

Any suggestions on how to go straight to the Workspace List overlay?

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I have found a solution to my problem.

I don't know the default behavior of the Overview w/o extensions (because I installed the Workspace Grid extension almost immediately), but it turns out that my experience is not the default behavior with Workspace Grid installed. Indeed, the Workspace List is supposed to appear as soon as the Overview is brought up, but there is a configuration option that hides it under certain conditions. The configs in question are explained here:

Workspaces thumbnails sidebar in overview.

This sidebar can get pretty wide if you have multiple columns of
workspaces. The sidebar can be collapse to the side of the screen if it
becomes too wide so that you then hover your mouse over it to uncollapse it.

The relevant settings:

    the maximum width the sidebar is allowed to occupy (as a fraction
    of screen width):

    const MAX_SCREEN_HFRACTION = 0.8;

    the width at which the sidebar collapses to the side when you open
    the overview (fraction of screen width):

    const MAX_SCREEN_HFRACTION_BEFORE_COLLAPSE = 0.3;

So all I needed to do was set the latter value to a much higher fraction (say, .6), and now the Workspace List appears by default when I bring up the Overview.

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