15

I have a frequent problem that occurs with window-based desktops like Cinnamon or XFCE, especially on multiple monitors.

I very often misread which Window has focus after Alt-Tab. So I will start typing, and it ends up in the wrong window.

Cinnamon has a number of options for the Alt-Tab:

  • "Icons only",
  • "Thumbnails only",
  • "Icons and thumbnails",
  • "Icons and window preview",
  • "Window preview (no icons)",
  • "Coverflow (3D)",
  • "Timeline (3D)".

However:

  • Icons and/or thumbnails do not give enough feedback which is the new active window.
  • Window preview is getting close to what I need, but it takes too long to start, and is visually too heavy.
  • Coverflow and Timeline are far too heavy, and confuse more than they help.

I imagine a decent solution would be to somehow give the nono-active windows subtly different colors. And maybe show a "spotlight" jumping from one window to the next..

This might all better fit into a feature request. But someone knows an existing solution to the problem?

(Mint 17.1, 'Rebecca', Cinnamon 64-bit)

  • Or does this fit better into superuser.com? – donquixote Apr 4 '16 at 23:11
  • No, I haven't tried this yet :) Maybe this is too subtle still.. but worth a try. – donquixote Apr 4 '16 at 23:22
  • 1
    I think it won't really help. Half of these windows are maximized borderless browser windows (Chromium). The color behind the tabs is already changing on focus, but this is too subtle. I think I need a visual effect that is only visible while switching windows, technically light-weight so it can be fast, and neither too subtle nor too heavy. Any permanent effect would always be too subtle I'm afraid. – donquixote Apr 4 '16 at 23:25
  • I notice that non-maximized windows (e.g. for terminal) get a subtle shadow to show they are focused. Maybe more could be done here with colors, but this still will be a weak visual signal. – donquixote Apr 4 '16 at 23:27
  • Indeed e.g. "Spidey" gives me more color (green) on the border of focused windows. Interestingly, this does not apply while switching windows, only after I release ALT. – donquixote Apr 4 '16 at 23:32
2

I also struggle with knowing which window has focus (irrespective of how it got i).

I have switched on the glow feature of oxygen theme in KDE's plasma. I now have a different glow around active and inactive windows. I also set a matching title bar colour. Green for active, and red glow / gray title bar and border for inactive (but the borders are very thin).

Several window the terminal has focus

It has made a big difference.

I also set meta+tab to lower window (and move focus to new top window). No animation, just simply the glow moves.

I then added an effect to move slide back windows: window move (temporarily out of the way) to let the other pass. This helps me keep track of where things have gone (a sub-conscious hint, linked to real world physics).


I chose KDE plasma for these features. (You can install it and probably start it (replacing cinnamon) without even logging out.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.