#243 A Better Way to Switch Windows?

As with most computer-related tasks, there are a variety of ways to switch between the windows you have open on your computer. Some people reach for the mouse, point to the Taskbar, and then click the button for the window they want.. While that works perfectly fine, it’s definitely one of the slower options.

If you’re keyboard person, like me , you are probably very familiar with the [Alt] + [Tab] trick. That’s better but sometimes hard to tell which window is the one you actually want and you wind up in the wrong place.

If you’d like to learn a new, potentially better trick, try using [Alt] + [Esc] to instantly jump to the next open window. Just hold the [Alt] key and tap [Esc] once and bingo: the next window appears. Not the one you want? Tap again and off you go to the next window.

Did you already know about [Alt]+[Esc]? What is your method of choice for switching between windows?


Thanks to Fred Schell for sharing the [CTRL] + [TAB] trick which will cycle you through open windows/tabs  of the same program.  For example multiple web browser tabs or Word documents, etc. Give it a try!

6 thoughts on “#243 A Better Way to Switch Windows?

  1. John Jackson says:

    I have been an Alt-Tab type of guy during my career. I am going to try the Alt-Esc because I also like the idea of getting a visual confirmation of the page that I want to see (rather than a small icon). Thanks again for another wonderful software tip!!!


  2. I did NOT know about alt+esc!

    I did know about the Windows button + Tab in Windows 7, but I see Dave already brought that up. What I like about it is that you can see the image of the window which makes it easier to identify sometimes.

    ALSO I just learned that you can roll the wheel on your mouse to scroll “windows” with both alt+tab and Windows+tab, AND click the mouse on the window you want while holding down the Alt+Key. At least in Windows 7, dont’ know about prior versions. So if you do “Windows+Tab and keep windows pressed, but let go of the tab, you can use the mouse to click the one you want.


  3. Aroon says:

    Alt + Esc is only good if all the windows are open otherwise it just toggle between the taskbar with no action.

    Unlike Alt + Tab, it does not matter if the windows are minimized or opened. The window you want opens.

    Both are great shortcuts. Alt + Tab is still the best option on Windows XP.


  4. I’ve long been a fan of Alt-Tab, especially because after you’ve used it once during a session, you can use it to toggle back and forth between two applications.

    An example: say I have Chrome open to some website, Word for a document I’m working on, Evernote for my local references, and Outlook. If I switch from Chrome to Word, then when I next hit Alt-Tab, Chrome will be the first location to switch to. When I hit Alt-Tab again, Word will be. it’s the equivalent of “previous channel” on your TV.

    With Windows 7, I found by chance that I can use the Windows key to more easily see what’s in the various open applications. Win-Tab (hold the Windows key and press Tab) will show all your windows at an angle, as in this image (which is from Windows Vista):

    If you continue to hold down the Windows key, each tap of the Tab key shuffles through the windows, moving the front one to the bottom of the deck and making the next one visible.


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