Thursday, March 28, 2013

Switch window by name on Linux - alternative to Alt+Tab

Today I want to share a very simple script that works with most Linux window managers: switch window by name.
It works like this: you press Ctrl+Alt+M, then a dialog appears where you write part of the name of the window, and you'll get switched to the window that matches the provided name.The string your provide will match part of window names in case-insensitive mode.
That means if you have "Foo - Mozilla Firefox" and type in "fire" you'll switch to firefox.

Note: it probably doesn't work with your configuration of awesome wm due to weird focus management.

The first step is to install the necessary packages:
apt-get install xbindkeys wmctrl zenity

With wmctrl we're able to switch to a window by specifying the name, while with xbindkeys we can bind Ctrl+Alt+M to open a zenity dialog then call wmctrl with the provided window name.

The only thing you need is the following file somewhere, let's call it keys.rc:
"WINDOWID='' app=$(zenity --text "App" --title "App" --entry) && wmctrl -R $app"
  control+alt + m

Now run xbindkeys -f keys.rc and we're done! Press Ctrl+Alt+M then type in the name of the window you want to switch to.

We can also add simpler bindings like this:
"wmctrl -R Firefox"
  control+alt + f

Now pressing Ctrl+Alt+F will switch to a firefox window.

Note that if it matches more window, only one of the window will be chosen obviously. The choice depends on xbindkeys.

I'm not using Alt+Tab anymore.


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