XFCE (xfwm4): Customizing Alt+Tab window cycling behaviour


I try to configure cycling through windows in XFCE (xfwm4) with alt + tab in the way that I am used to from openbox for many years.

I recorded a screencast to describe my problem precisely and uploaded it to youtube:

xfwm4: cycle through windows

What follows is a text description of what is shown in the video:

Assume you have four terminal windows that are all covered by a browser window.

Let’s assume that the pager that appears when pressing alt + tab shows all windows in the following order:

  1. Browser
  2. Terminal 4
  3. Terminal 3
  4. Terminal 2
  5. Terminal 1

Now I would like to see the following behaviour:

When I press the alt key and then press four times the tab key (while holding the alt key pressed) I would like to have only terminal 1 in front of the browser. All other terminal windows should be behind the browser. And the second requirement is, that I would like to see the contents of the windows while cycling through them. (And I do not want to see the contents as a small thumbnail in the pager that comes up when alt + tab is pressed by I want to see the actual window.)

I also recorded a screencast that shows exactly the behaviour that I have just described and that I would like to achieve. I have also uploaded that video to youtube:

openbox: cycle through windows

Is it possible to configure xfwm4 in the same way?

Have you tried to modify your keyboard contructs & convention to match those in your openbox example?

As far as I know (I think I have done that in the past, if memory serves right), you can replace xfwm4 with openbox - that should allow you achieve the behavior you are after.
Xfce4 uses (again as far as I know) a dedicated window switcher - it will always show you the icon of a window or a preview, but not cycle through the windows themselves.


Thank you for your response. However, I think there might be a misunderstanding. At least I do not understand how my question has anything to do with keyboard shortcuts. My question is about the window cycling behaviour in XFCE (xfwm4).

If you think that I should modify keyboard shortcuts (I guess that is what you mean with “keyboard contructs & convention”) to achieve what I want I would be happy to read more details what I should exactly modify in xfwm to achieve the expected behaviour.

Thanks again.


Thanks for your response and for your idea to use openbox instead of xfwm4 as the window manager in XFCE. One important reason why I consider moving away from openbox is that the project does not look well maintained to me. On the wikipedia page


is a link to the openbox website but visiting that site shows an 403 forbidden error. So it looks like openbox does not even have a website any more.

And the last commit to the source code seems to be made nine years ago according to

Ok, so basically you are saying that it’s not possible to configure xfwm in the way I described. Thanks for your thoughts.

FWIW have you tried MABOX, BunsenLabs and/or LiliDog? All are quite sophisticated OpenBox based distros.

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xfce:xfwm4:wmtweaks [Xfce Docs]
Raise windows while cycling: Brings windows to the foreground when selected in the cycle overlay

To disable raising of windows while cycling

xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/cycle_raise -s false

Yes but he wants them to be raised…but temporarily. I do not think xfce had this build in. He will probably have to try another DE, or WM, or at least composer.

I quoted one OP requirement that is possible with xfwm4

He will probably have to try another DE, or WM

I do not know of another window manager that can fulfil all OP’s requirements either