Directional Window Switcher for Compiz

What is it?

Does your desktop look like the screenshot below? Are you getting tired of grabbing for the mouse or fighting with alt-tab just to switch focus to that window immediately adjacent to the one you're in?

The Directional Window Switcher (DWS) plugin for Compiz (0.9 and later only) lets you assign shortcut keys to move left, right, up, or down between windows within a viewport or (optionally) between viewports.


How do I install it?

You have three download options:

The self-extracting bundles will install the plugin for the current user in your home directory. They are only tested as indicated above. They might work with other Ubuntu version, but I haven't tested it. If you have ABI compatibility problems with the bundles, you will need to download and install the source.

Once installed, you can use ccsm (provided by the compizconfig-settings-manager package) to enable and configure the plugin. (Beware that enabling the plugin will probably make Unity crash on account of the fact that Unity sucks.)


Q. How do I use it?
A. The default key bindings are ctrl-alt-[ijkl] to move up, left, down, right respectively. You can modify the bindings and other options using ccsm.

Q. Can you port this to Metacity or Gnome-shell?
A. I expect one doesn't "port" Compiz plugins to other window managers so much as completely rewrite them from scratch. In any case, as I don't use Metacity or Gnome-shell, I will not be maintaining versions for them.

Q. Why do things get wonky when I have overlapping windows?
A. DWS wasn't really meant to handle the overlapping window case. The use-case is when you have a grid of generally non-overlapping windows that you want to quickly switch between.

The nonsense written above can be blamed on Jason Tackaberry (

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