IIRC, in Luna it was possible to switch workspaces using the mouse wheel, as in Xfce. (Edit: That is, simply by scrolling the wheel on any point of the desktop not covered by a window.) Is it possible to make that work in Freya?

(I know about the keyboard shortcuts, thanks for pointing that out. And I always have enough desktop real estate not covered by windows so that what I ask for actually makes sense.)

  • In elementaryOS, the desktop is seldom visible. It has no icons, no behavior and most windows are maximized. Therefor, using the desktop to switch workspaces is unusual. But you can still use the keyboard shortcuts as sale said. Jul 27, 2015 at 7:09
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    Daniel, thanks for trying to help. I have to ask, though: Why is it that people feel the need to tell questioners that they think that whatever the questioner is asking for is unusual, is bad workflow, or is otherwise undesirable? I know exactly what I want, I certainly never maximise windows (and maximising most windows makes no sense on today’s big screens), and I know about (and use) the keyboard shortcuts. It’s just that I’m missing one specific functionality.
    – Peter M.
    Jul 27, 2015 at 10:34
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    I didn't say that it is "bad workflow", just not the way elementaryOS does it. The way you work is perfectly fine if it works for you. Absolutely no judgment. I just wanted to explain why the feature you want is not available. Jul 27, 2015 at 13:07
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    If there's no way to do it (apparently so) you can file a feature request here: bugs.launchpad.net/elementary
    – Gabriel
    Jul 30, 2015 at 14:20
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    I agree with Peter, I used this feature a lot in Ubuntu. I would use Compiz to configure the ability to scroll the viewport switcher using my mouse wheel, when my mouse was over an open space on the desktop. As a developer, I will have an IDE open on one workspace and a database utility (MySQL Workbench) open in an adjacent workspace to one side and an open browser for testing open in the adjacent workspace to the other side. By the very nature of the development workflow, it becomes very efficient to use the mouse wheel to "flip" back and forth between those workspaces without having to let g
    – CRMcMullen
    Aug 5, 2015 at 15:39

3 Answers 3


This is not exact the solution you ask for, but:

You can switch workspaces by scrolling on open applications in plank, if they are open in different workspaces and plank is configured to show all apps of all workspaces (default).

  • Thanks a lot, Benni, but that method only takes me to that workspace on which the app I scrolled on is located. Which means: you can just as well click on that app in plank. So it’s not just not what I am looking for, it’s also pretty useless, AFAICS.
    – Peter M.
    Jul 30, 2015 at 19:04

I don’t understand what kind of behaviour you are expecting (never used Xfce) but mouse wheel does change workspaces when you are in the multitasking view.

You can set up hot corner for multitasking view, use its launcher from slingshot or pin it to the plank as well as use super + keyboard shortcut to enter multitasking view.

  • The Xfce behaviour (once activated) is: scroll the mouse wheel up/down on the desktop will switch to previous/next workspace. I know about the multitasking view, but three clicks/movements just to switch to a different workspace is not acceptable IMO.
    – Peter M.
    Jul 26, 2015 at 18:52
  • So you must minimize/close your windows and then scroll on the desktop in xfce? Doesn't sound like a good workflow. You can access your workspaces with Super + The number of the workspace.
    – Djax
    Jul 26, 2015 at 19:30
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    Um, no, Djax, wherever there is a piece of desktop, I can use the mouse to switch workspaces. Of course there are ways to to it by using the keyboard, bu my workflow requires that there be a way to do it using the mouse.
    – Peter M.
    Jul 26, 2015 at 19:42
  • @PeterM. Well there is just as I say in the answer. There is no known to me way to add xface behaviour and I have doubts if there is any. I like to have multitasking view in left corner. It's easier then looking for your desktop. Jul 26, 2015 at 20:01

I suffered the same annoyance so a long time ago I added a 'workspace switcher' to WingPanel. Clicking on it gives me a dropdown list of open workspaces, the I click on the one I want. Still not ideal, and not what I want. I often wish I could just scroll on that icon in wingpanel instead of clicking it.

Maybe someone knows the guy who wrote that switcher and could ask for mousewheel scrolling to be added to it. I has to be easy! But for now it was not the solution.

So I added Docky under my wingpanel. And to docky I added its workspace switcher, which shows how many workspaces are open all the time and lets me click on any workspace on its icon or, and this is the nice part, scroll the mouse wheel while over the icon to cycle through any open workspace.

It also has the advantage that it works even when there is a full screen window on a workspace.

Again, not a perfect solution, but the only one I have come up with that works 100% and is dead easy. Even if you just install Docky and have nothing else on it other than the workspace switcher.

As mentioned, docky can live quite happily under/over (i've never worked out which it is) the wingpanel, or you could drop it on another edge of the screen.


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