Monday, July 11, 2011

How do you switch between programs so fast?

Hold ALT press TAB once, release. This will switch to the most recently used window. If you hold ALT while pressing TAB repeatedly, you will see a list of all open applications. This list will vary depending on your version of Windows, but may look something like this:

Cycle through the programs until you get to the one you want, then release all keys. You can add SHIFT to the mix if you want to go through the list in reverse order.

If you are on a Mac, use the Apple key  instead of ALT.

This shortcut is very handy if you frequently need to switch between say a browser and a spreadsheet to enter data. This keyboard shorcut is by far the most used in my computer life, put it to good use in yours!

Update: Thanks to one of our Apple enthusiats in the comments for the following: On newer Mac laptops with multitouch trackpads, swipe to the right or left with 4 fingers to switch between open applications. Swiping up or down with 4 fingers launches Exposé, which shows all open applications.


  1. Oh the joys of having a Mac with a multitouch trackpad. A simple four finger swipe to the left :)

  2. Check this out...let's say you have multiple Adobe documents open at the same time. If you hit Command + Tab then it only goes from application to application...however, if you hit Command + the key next to the #1 key then it will toggle between that specific application's opened windows. Hopefully that makes sense. Give it a shot!

  3. What do you think about Rocket Dock? Have you used it before?

  4. @dlo that is a fairly advanced gesture :) didn't know about it though. I'll update the post, thanks for the info, I'll be sure to cover Macs a little better after the first two comments.

    @Steven I was going to cover that in another post. It is Ctrl + Tab in both windows and Mac I believe to switch within the application.

    @Candace I think I played around with a similar program on my sister's Dell. It looks pretty and is very similar to the Mac dock, but I think it slows down the system and duplicates functionality. Granted, I prefer performance and speed/power over pretty.

  5. Tommy, you can also just use command + back tick (`) (after command+tab to open the applications dialog) to go in reverse order on a Mac.

    Great tip for everyone though :)