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Frequently asked questions

Firefox jumps between workspaces, why?

When a new tab is opened from an external link in Firefox, it asks the WM to show the window containing the new tab. If the window that has requested to be raised is not on the current desktop, the Xfce Window manager will bring it to the current desktop by default. If you do not want this behavior, there is a hidden option to control this behavior. For Xfce 4.4 in ~/.config/xfce4/xfwm4/xfwm4rc you can put the following:


For Xfce 4.6 and 4.8 you can go to Xfce Menu > Settings > Window Manager Tweaks and go to the tab Focus, or you need to use the xfconf-query tool to change the setting:

  xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/activate_action -s bring|switch|none

As the name suggests, the “bring” option moves the window requesting to be raised to the current workspace, the “switch” option switches workspaces, and the “none” option takes no action.

The above command edits the file “~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfwm4.xml” by adding or modifying this line: “ <property name=“activate_action” type=“string” value=“switch”/> ”

Some of the windows are always centered, why?

The Xfce Window Manager has a feature called smart placement which can be adjusted based on the window size. Basically it will automatically center windows that are below a certain size and once they get bigger than that, new windows will try to be arranged automatically in the best place to have coverage. You can adjust the minimum size setting under Settings → Window Manager Tweaks → Placement.

Is it possible to have windows remember their position?

Short answer: no.

Long answer: If the application supports it, it will restore itself at the location and size you last specified (example: Terminal or Thunar). If the application doesn't support it you can use a window matching application like devilspie or wmctrl

How do I programmatically switch workspaces, move windows, etc?

wmctrl is a commandline tool that can switch workspaces, move windows between workspaces, move window positions, maximize windows, etc.

libwnck is a library that does similar things.

A window suddenly became transparent! How do I undo this?

If display compositing is enabled, the Xfce Window Manager allows you to adjust the opacity of a window by hovering your mouse over the title bar, holding down the Alt key, and using the scroll wheel (down lowers the opacity, and up raises it). So use Alt+ScrollWheelUp to reset the transparency.

I have only one desktop and can't move my windows anymore! HELP!

If you have no window borders anymore and can't focus windows, xfwm4 probably closed itself. This happens sometimes and due to the random nature of this annoying bug it's hard to track. But there are workarounds available.

Start xfwm4 again

Sounds like the simpliest solution. You need a terminal and a command executioner (like xfrun4 (alt + f2)) with focus. In the terminal you enter following command:

xfwm4 --sm-client-id=${SESSION_MANAGER##*/} & disown

And you're done, xfwm4 should be now in your session again. If this doesn't work, stick with method 2 or 3 below.

The easy solution for every xfce (not for people loving their sessions)

Because xfwm4 goes fishy most times at start up it isn't bad if you have to log out. You hadn't done anything important until than. So log out, remove ~/.cache/sessions/* (probably with

rm -rf ~/.cache/sessions/*

and login back again. Don't do this while you're logged in to xfce! Don't do this if you love the xfce session feature (because you delete all sessions, duh)!

The cool new xfce4.10 solution (again, not for people loving their sessions)

If you already use xfce4.10 you have the possibility to use the GUI to delete the sessions cache (as you can see, the devs are annoyed, too). Open xfce4-sessions-settings → Session and click »Clear saved sessions«, than log out and in again. This should be all.