ALT + TAB out of full screen apps isn't possible

Asked by fatsheep

When I play full screen games such as Tremulous, Nexuiz, or Enemy Territory, there is no way to alt + tab out. You have to close the game out entirely. On Windows it was very convienant alt + tabbing from my game to my instant messages, email, news, and such but unfortunately that isn't possible in Ubuntu yet. Are there any plans to change this in Edgy? I've been scrounging around for details on the next release, a lot has got me excited but no mention of this particular issue.

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Matti Lindell (mlind) said :

This won't probably answer your question, but for I'm not sure if there's one ultimate solution for this. Certain games grab keyboard when game is running on fullscreen and prevent window manager, X or whatever from receiving the signals.

For games that use SDL library, like neverwinter (and nexzuiz probably?) you can patch the SDL library to respond these signals, like show on The problem is games may supply with their own SDL library version (or even implementation).

I think it would be very nice feature to get this implemented on necessary layer, so that fullscreen applications could be minimized/maximized when required, like with windows. Maybe you should file a bug report about this and get more insightful answer from Ubuntu dev people.

I've successfully patched Dapper's version of libSDL using those instructions, and Neverwinter Nights running on fullscreen can be toggled with ALT+ENTER now. I'll test I can do same with Enemy Territory for starters.

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fatsheep (jesse-fatsheep-deactivatedaccount) said :

I've tried alt+enter, all it does is freeze my game. :/ It lets me see the toolbars but I can't move the mouse outside the game window and I can't alt+tab out. I am not a programmer so I won't pretend to understand how SDL libraries work but I do hope that the Ubuntu devs see the value in reserving the alt+tab input for minimizing a window in all cases to make full screen applications a little more manangeable.

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kenden (kenden) said :


I think with your bug at:
this question can be marked as answered and continue tracking the solution in the bug report.

Please simply close this question if you agree, that will help the support team!

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kenden (kenden) said :

Actually, maybe waiting for a possible fix for the problem, this report can be kept open to find workarounds, because some seem to exist:

The program etswitch can help:

See: for supported games and for installation.

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Harry Sufehmi (harry-sufehmi) said :

Hi, I just found a way to ALT-TAB from Wolfenstein : Enemy Territory to the Gnome Desktop.
Here's how :

(1) Switch to Windowed Mode : pressing Alt-Enter usually works

(2) Activate the console : by pressing the ` (backtick? or tilda) key

(3) Now you can press ALT-TAB to your Gnome Desktop

I don't know why, but my guess is activating the console also releases its grab on mouse & keyboard. So then you can ALT-TAB to your desktop.

Since Wolfenstein is based on Quake-engine; my guess is you can do this trick too on other games based on that engine.

Hope it helps someone.

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