9 Most Useful Compiz Plugins

Last time we wrote about all the useless plugins in Compiz. This time, we won't be bashing your favorite compositing window manager. Today, we'll be listing the most useful plugins Compiz can boast of.

So, without much ado, here's a list of the most useful and popular Compiz plugins out there (in no particular order):

Expo Plugin
This plugin activates the expo mode, which allows you to zoom out and see all workspaces at once. You can then rearrange windows between different workspaces to simplify workflow. If you're a seasoned multitasker and happen to use virtual desktops a lot, then this plugin is an essential companion. Ubuntu includes the plugin enabled by default. Press Super+S to get a bird's eye view of all your desktops.

Compiz Bailer
This plugin takes decisive action if something goes wrong with your session. For example, if Compiz session crashes, it is responsible for deciding whether to fallback on another session or to do something else. You can also set it to execute specific commands in the event of a crash.

Snapping Windows
In the era of multitasking, Snapping Windows, a feature inspired by Aero Snap comes in handy. Snapping allows users to quickly resize open windows by dragging them to the sides of the screen. If you're working on multiple documents at once, and want to compare them side-by-side, this feature does the job. Ubuntu introduced this feature recently and has been well received by the users.

GNOME Compatibility
This plugin comes in handy if you're still using the old version of GNOME. It ensures that Compiz remains compatible with the GNOME desktop environment. For example, shortcuts like Alt+F1, Alt+F2, and Print Scr (for screenshots) work due to this plugin.

This is also a plugin that was introduced in Ubuntu's latest version. Grid allows you to warp and resize windows into an imaginary grid using simple keyboard shortcuts. The plugin comes in handy when you want to quickly resize a window to peek behind it. The shortcuts are probably the easiest to learn – just press Ctrl and Alt together and press the buttons on the numeric keypad. Depending on the direction of the key, the window will be resized. For example, Ctrl+Alt+4 will snap the window to the left edge of the screen. Ctrl+Alt+5 will bring the window to the center and so on.

Move Window
Move Window is a simple plugin that has great utility. Move Window allows you to move and then resize/snap any window by using the mouse pointer along with a combo key. By default, holding the Alt key and clicking anywhere on the window will activate the grab handle. Then, you can release the Alt key and move the window to any position you like.

Scale Plugin
This plugin is inspired by the Expose effect in Apple Mac OS X. Scale allows you to quickly find an open window instead of sorting through a bunch of open applications. This feature is useful if you have a habit of keeping too many windows open at once. Say in a bunch of open applications you want to find a particular window, instead of sorting through each window manually, you can activate Scale mode, which shows you all your open applications at once. Then, you can click on the window you were looking for to switch to it instantly. The plugin is already included in Ubuntu and can be activated by using the combination Super + W.

Also, if you want, you can enable the scale addons plugin. As the name suggests, this plugin will add some more functionality to the Scale plugin. For example, using a specific combination you can zoom in to a particular window, and even close it.

Compiz Workarounds
This is an essential plugin that contains some workarounds to make popular applications and software toolkits to work properly with Compiz Fusion. Thanks to this plugin, most WINE applications can run in full screen mode without any problems. Workarounds also ensures compatibility with QT3 and QT4 applications by properly displaying their menus under GNOME.

Window Previews
This is not exactly an essential plugin per se but a useful one nevertheless. Similar to the Windows 7 task bar, you can have thumbnail previews of your running applications on your GNOME task bar. The plugin also works flawlessly when used with docks like Docky.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.


  1. "Snapping windows" is making them to stick to the edge of the screen, it's not like a Windows Aero Snap.

    To get an Aero Snap - look here -

  2. Grid is less useful now since you can't resize windows easily.