Expected behaviour of application focus changes in workspaces/multi-monitor setup?

Hi there,

I’m trying to understand the expected behaviour of focus changes in a dual-monitor/workspace setup, with the aim of reporting a bug either here in gnome-shell or in the gnome-shell-wsmatrix extension.

My setup:

  • Left monitor (LM): Multiple workspaces, either vanilla gnome-shell or gnome-shell-wsmatrix
  • Right monitor (RM): Single workspace


LM-left LM-center LM-right RM
app1 (empty) app2 app3
^ start ^ end
  • Changing workspaces from LM-Left (start) to LM-right (end), thereby hovering over LM-center
  • It’s important to note that LM-center is empty, while RM contains another application app3
  • While shifting over LM-center (not releasing the keys though), app3 receives focus, which is to be expected and correct, as far as I can tell. Continue shifting to LM-right, sometimes app3 releases its focus for app2, sometimes it doesn`t.


  • app2 on LM-right always holds focus


  • Sometimes, app3 on RM keeps the focus. This is almost certainly not the expected result, given that the user actively changed to a workspace that contains an application, and app3 only entered the mix because LM-center is empty.

From observation, there seems to be a correlation to the ‘age’ of app3 and to the time when it last had focus. E.g. if app3 has had focus recently, it’s less likely to release focus to app2. However, I’m unable to reproduce a deterministic result. I’m also not sure if the type of application matters, I seem to get different results for e.g. all apps being firefox instances vs. mix-and-match different applications.

Can someone clarify or point me to documentation/source code that helps to understand the expected behaviour?


Am I asking in the right forum? Can someone point me in the right direction, please?


Can you at least point out if I’m in the right forum here?

You are, but clearly nobody has an answer for your question.

In general, if something does not happen with the extension disabled, then it’s an extension issue; if it happens with the extension disabled, then it’s a gnome-shell issue.

Thanks for your response.

I’m getting mixed results with/without the extension, so I thought understanding the expected behaviour Is a good first step to understanding the problem.

However, I appreciate it’s not an easy question to answer, so I’ll stop bumping this.

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