Linux: Add Keyboard Shortcut to Switch App

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Suppose you want to have F8 switch to browser. Here's how.

First, install wmctrl.

wmctrl is a command line util to {switch, close, move, resize, set title, list, …} windows.

# install wmctrl
sudo apt-get install wmctrl

Example use:

Type xprop in terminal to find the name of a app's window class name. [see Linux: Commands Related to GUI Apps])

here's some popular app's window class name:

Now, create a keyboard shortcut to the command.

In your Linux desktop {Gnome, KDE, Ubuntu, Xfce, …}, there's usually a keyboard setting tool in the control panel to set a key to execute command. Use that.

Here's a example from xfce:

xfce keyboard setting panel 2015-03-15
Xfce keyboard setting panel

LXDE / OpenBox

For LXDE or OpenBox, you need to modify a config file. See: Linux: LXDE/Openbox, Change Keyboard Shortcuts



Here's another method.

Here's what you can do with xdotool to switch/launch app.

This is what I came up with to switch between my editor/browser/terminal using surplus numpad keys. (Tried wmctrl -xa first but it switches to the first terminal on the first desktop it finds.)

"xdotool search --onlyvisible --class  Geany   windowraise windowfocus"

"xdotool search --onlyvisible --class  Firefox   windowraise windowfocus"

"xdotool search --onlyvisible --class  Sakura   windowraise windowfocus"

That's in 〔~/.xbindkeysrc〕 … I started using xbindkeys so I can switch WMs without redoing all my hotkeys.

P.S. - found a switch-or-launch script for Linux: Doesn't work well with systray apps but my goal is to banish those.. map them to W-F1 etc.

JumpApp → A faster way to launch applications and switch between them

The idea is simple — bind a key for any given application that will:

2012-09-15 Thanks to {Yuri Khan, Vadim Atlygin, Evan Cofsky} for help.

2014-11-30 Thanks to Tom Novelli for help.

Mac and Microsoft Windows

How to Set Key to Switch to Browser

If you have a question, put $5 at patreon and message me.

Linux Keybinding Howto


Linux Desktop keys