Something I’ve always wondered about was the strange lack of mouse control in the ubiquitous alt-tab dialog. (And for UI “dialog“s, should I be using the Canadian spelling, “dialogue?”). I know Windows and GNOME do not supply this feature, and I’m pretty sure KDE does not have it, either. I’m not sure about OSX, however. This seems such a glaring omission, and easily resolved. I’ve thought about getting my feet wet and doing it myself (for GNOME), but my GTK+ skills aren’t quite developed, yet.

I did, however, just recently have a week-long affair with Javascript, and felt up to making a prototype. The implementation is not exactly pretty, but it works (and even then, only on Firefox). 🙂 Take a look and let me know what you think. Is this a good idea or is there some reason why mouse input has never been implemented?

>> alt-tab with mouse movement prototype


  1. I had to load up my laptop to try your demo, didn’t work on Mac FFox.

    Ahm, OS X ‘s command-tab allows mouse input, but expose seems far more useful.

  2. Really!? I know I didn’t put any cross-platform efforts into this demo, but I thought FFox would be the same across all OS’s.

    So OSX has it in addition to expose. It would be useful to have a mac just to study the UI. 🙂

  3. mah keyboard had a little special alt-tab replacement button (on same side for ease of use) and it would allow mouse input.

    I’ve never come to the need for having to use a mouse however, as I always know what I have open, and I know how many tabs it takes to get there (or shift-tabs if it’s quicker) so between those it’s likely to be faster than telling my other hand to get involved

  4. oh yeah, so in order to answer your question

    ” Is this a good idea or is there some reason why mouse input has never been implemented?”

    thats excactly why, keyboard shortcuts are keyboard shortcuts for a reason. Otherwise you’re just recreating the ‘taskbar’

  5. popa, dude, I’m definitely going to have to disagree with you on this one. The taskbar is always visible. It gives you an idea of the currently running applications at a glance, and does its purpose well. But because it’s always visible, it’s generally not given much space. Have a reasonable number of apps running and they all get squished and difficult to read, or grouped if you have an OS/environment that does that. Additionally, it takes up the entire length of the screen, meaning you’ll always have to move your mouse quite far.

    Granted, mouse input for the alt-tab is probably not for everyone, but then they just don’t use it. It doesn’t interfere with the existing interface, at all. 🙂

  6. Saturday the 11th
    18:00 Hours
    Be there

    (once we figure out where ‘there’ is)

    btw I still think you’re just recreating the taskbar and that IS my answer to your question. Taskbar isn’t always visible thats just user preference. Also if you’d like more room for your crazy abundance of applications, you can stretch the available space of the taskbar to up to half the screen, I can’t imagine why you’d require more than that. Also desktop developers love to make everything with the ‘windows’ mindset. So a forced fullscreen is the least preferred result especially if you’re using it to switch between your 4 tiled applications sitting on your desktop and the 4 hidden behind them. Again this is all just to answer your question of ‘why this hasn’t be implemented’

    If you wanna impress me, dev up a plugin that allow for multiple word searches within a website instead of just 1 word at a time. say using a ‘word1; word2; word3’ kinda trickery and giving each consecutive word a different highlite.

    OR that p2p system you were gonna whip up so that we can actually send files to each other because we both seem to suck at this horrendously and should be ashamed since my mom and her sisters can manage.


    Saturday the 11th
    18:00 Hours
    Be there

    pope out

  7. yessir… it’s now been 1 full month without an update.
    And I thought my weeklong hiatuses were incsonsiderate!

    Werd, soz i missed ya friday… I wasn’t around (as you gathered) else the offer would of been great. Get in touch.

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