Is there any way to facilitate switching windows in Ubuntu?

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http://askubuntu.com – I'm just a student who received my laptop from my uncle, who's a coder, so I'm still getting used to working with ubuntu. I recently upgraded ubuntu from an earlier version, and everything seems to be pretty great. The only thing is that when I open a program, or file, or whatever, it takes up the whole screen. I can only close it by going to the far top left of my screen, or by ctrl+W. Anyways, I find it really hard to switch between programs. For example I really like to have my windows that are open to be accessible by clicking on their icon at the bottom of the screen... Great when writing (HowTos)