How to set up Menu items such that if an instance is already running, the running instance is brought to the foreground?

Alex Schuster wonko at
Sat Mar 5 14:43:37 GMT 2011

Dotan Cohen writes:

> I have two separate cases where seniors using KDE like to open many
> instances of the same application rather than use the already-open
> application. This is a user problem, not a KDE problem, but I wonder
> if there is  technical solution.

Switching to Gnome, maybe? I think there the default behaviour is to not
allow multiple instances of the same application.

> These users click the application's menu item to start using the
> application, even if there is already an open instance in the Taskbar
> or in the System Tray. Examples include Firefox, Skype, Solitaire
> (Windows executable running in Wine), and some others. Therefore, I'd
> like to write a wrapper script for each of these apps to check if
> there exists a running instance. If not, then open the application. If
> yes, then bring the running application to the foreground.
> Can this be done? I could probably grep "ps aux" for the application
> and to get it's pid, but how to bring it to the foreground? Thanks!

You could use xlsclients -al to get the list of running applications and
their window IDs, and then xdotool windowactivate <windowid> to bring it
to the foreground.

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