Alternate Tab GNOME shell extension

GNOME, the Fedora Workstation default environment, has a well known Alt+Tab feature to switch apps. This control groups windows for a single app together. For example, multiple terminal windows appear as a single terminal app. The Alt+` (backtick or backquote) shortcut switches between those windows in a single app. But a helpful GNOME extension, Alternate Tab, changes this behavior.

GNOME supports a Classic mode of operation. This mode allows GNOME version 3 to behave similarly to the previous version 2. The Classic mode groups a number of extensions together to achieve this goal. These extensions include the Alternate Tab extension.

The extension switches behavior of the Alt+Tab display. With this extension, each window appears separately. Some users find navigation easier with this behavior in place.

Installing the Alternate Tab extension

Fedora Workstation includes the Classic mode by default. That includes the Alternate Tab extension. If you have a different edition installed, you can still install this extension. There are many ways to enable the extension afterward. One way is to use the GNOME Tweak Tool. Use the Software app, or use sudo along with the dnf command, to install these packages if you don’t have them already:

sudo dnf install gnome-shell-extension-alternate-tab gnome-tweak-tool

Open the Tweak Tool from the GNOME Shell overview and go to the Extensions tab. Find AlternateTab and enable it using the On/Off switch:

Alternate Tab extension in GNOME Tweak Tool

Once you follow this process, you can use the new Alt+Tab behavior. Notice how in this example, each terminal has its own entry in the selector control.


Using Software


  1. Lokesh Krishna

    How does one make the terminal (or any app for that matter) icon appear beside the name in the status bar?

    • Jaša Bartelj

      Gnome Tweak Tool > Top Bar > set Show Application Menu to ON

  2. Florian Müllner

    I wish people stopped advertising that extension – it really doesn’t do what most folks think it does. Its only purpose is to allow the Alt+Tab shortcut to behave differently – using the default app switcher or the non-default window switcher – depending on which session the user picked at the login screen.

    In other words: GNOME already includes a window switcher out of the box, it simply does not have a keyboard shortcut assigned by default. Changing that does not require any extensions however:

    $ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-applications ‘[]’
    $ gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings switch-windows ‘[“Tab”]’

    (Both shortcuts are also listed in the “Navigation” section of the keyboard settings, but using the command line avoids a long-standing bug about shortcut actions with more than one keybinding assigned)

    • Excellent advice. Thanks for the detailed information on how to get to the desired goal with gsettings.

    • Rodd Clarkson

      Maybe if this is an ongoing problem Gnome should make it a little easier to change this behaviour without using extensions.

      • Florian Müllner

        Well, if you can get yourself to use Super+Tab instead of Alt+Tab, it’s as easy as:
        – open Settings
        – select Keyboard
        – locate Navigation/Switch Windows
        – set Super+Tab as new shortcut

        That is, you configure it just like any other keyboard shortcut.

        • Paweł

          That’s not true for me. I can’t set this shortcut, because when i try to press Super – it shows Gnome Shell Ppreview. When I try to press Super + Tab – it just switches to another window. So changing this via GUI is not possible for me.

          • Florian Müllner

            Oh right, that’s a wayland issue[0] – there is currently no protocol for applications to grab all keyboard input, so the compositor will always activate its own keyboard shortcut before the applications even sees the corresponding events.

            As a workaround, the following should work though:
            – locate Navigation/Switch Applications
            – unset the shortcut with backspace
            – then set Navigation/Switch Windows as described above

            [0] It’s being worked on, see

    • André Costa

      This is excellent advice indeed, thanks! One question though: the “switch windows” behavior only cycles through windows on the current workspace. Is there any way to configure it to cycle through windows on all workspaces?

      • Florian Müllner

        Sure, there’s a setting for that:

        $ gsettings set current-workspace-only false

  3. Mehdi

    Hey man this is what I longed for a long time and I did not know it was possible to get rid of default window grouping.
    Keep up posting useful tips!
    Thanks and I love Fedora

  4. Allen Halsey

    This is an excellent extension. It has useful options too, like “Show only windows in the current workspace”.

    I use the “one workspace per task” paradigm, which Gnome supports very well. When I Alt-TAB, I want the choice of apps to be limited to those running on the current workspace.

    What also helps is the “Workspace isolated dash” and “Windowoverlay icons” extensions.

  5. Ilya

    this extension should be by default. I mean that alt+tab should work like in windows

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