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A tutorial on how to switch windows in Ubuntu really fast.

We'll need wmctrl and xbindkeys installed, both avaiable from the standard repositories:

sudo apt-get install wmctrl xbindkeys

We'll use a script for the switching. Place it somewhere in your home directory (I did so in ~/scripts/bin/switch_to_app) and make sure that it's executable - for my path:

chmod +x petr ~/scripts/bin/switch_to_app

Here's the script we'll use, you don't have to understand it in order to use it:

workspace_number=`wmctrl -d | grep '\*' | cut -d' ' -f 1`
win_list=`wmctrl -lx | grep $app_name | grep " $workspace_number " | awk '{print $1}'`

if [[ $win_list ]]; then
  active_win_id=`xprop -root | grep '^_NET_ACTIVE_W' | awk -F'# 0x' '{print $2}' | awk -F', ' '{print $1}'`
  if [ "$active_win_id" == "0" ]; then

  # get next window to focus on, removing id active
  switch_to=`echo $win_list | sed s/.*$active_win_id// | awk '{print $1}'`
  # if the current window is the last in the list ... take the first one
  if [ "$switch_to" == "" ]; then
    switch_to=`echo $win_list | awk '{print $1}'`
if [[ $switch_to ]]
    wmctrl -ia "$switch_to" &
    if [[ $2 ]]; then
      $2 &

exit 0

To use the script, you invoke it by it's name and pass window identifier (see wmctrl -lx) as the first argument and an optional command as the second argument. If the script doesn't find the window by identifier and a command is present, it executes it.

Aftewards make a ~/.xbindkeysrc file with defined shortcuts, syntax is pretty straightforward:

"~/scripts/bin/switch_to_app 'chromium-browser.Chromium-browser' chromium-browser"
    Mod4 + 1

"~/scripts/bin/switch_to_app 'sublime_text.sublime-text-2' subl"
    Mod4 + 2

"~/scripts/bin/switch_to_app 'terminator.Terminator' terminator"
    Mod4 + 3

Once xbindkeys is loaded, fire your shortcuts at will. If you have multiple windows of an app opened, the script cycles through them. If you modify .xbindkeysrc you can restart xbindkeys by:

killall xbindkeys && xbindkeys​

The script was written for Xubuntu but should work with any DE. In Xubuntu it filters out other workspaces, which doesn't work with Compiz. Am not sure about Metacity.