Windows 7 Alt Tab: How would you like to disable it?

In my opinion the new Windows 7 alt+tab switch is just awful, causing distractions and making it difficult to activate the window you need. The older alt+tab switch provided an efficient way of finding and activating an open window. It also didn’t include in its row the desktop! Windows 7 proposes to sacrifice some of our time and patience, for an Alt+Tab that is more annoying but less boring!

There are several ways you can follow to fight this annoyance introduced by an otherwise great OS. You can even revert to the old (XP) alt+tab mode, or keep the new Windows 7 functions without the exact alt+tab annoyance.

You can disable successive activation of open windows by going to Computer > Properties > Advanced > Performance > Settings, to un-check the optionEnable Aero Peek” (you will lose also the Win+Spacebar peek).

You can enable the XP alt+tab switch by creating a DWORD Value called “AltTabSettings” at My Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer  and setting it to “1“. You don’t need to logoff, your change is activated immediately. (To revert this change, delete the registry key, logoff Windows and logon again.)

Note also that you can just temporarily use the XP alt+tab, whenever you press an alt button, then (holding this pressed) press and immediately release the other alt button; then press the tab as usually to switch between open applications. Think of this as alt+[alt]+tab, with the brackets meaning that the second alt is pressed and immediately released.

Consider also using the VistaSwitcher freeware, a handy tool that works better than the Vista/7/8 AltTab switch. It will give you even the option to browse only windows that belong to the same application, instead of browsing all of your open windows.

If you only want to disable the preview (successive activation) of each and every open application while you press alt+tab, create a new dword key at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AltTab, name it LivePreview_ms and give it the value “0”. This way you will only see program titles, icons and thumbnails, but the rest of your screen behind the alt+tab dialogue will remain still, waiting for your choice. In the same (AltTab) registry address you can also define larger thumbnails by creating or changing the dword key MaxThumbSizePx with a value like 200 or even greater (the default is 120).

I’m also using NumPad Transformer, to take advantage of the (otherwise useless to me) NumPad, featuring several functions and among them the use of the NumPad Addition (+) key as a switcher, letting me with a single key activate one by one all non-minimized open windows — without making the rest of them invisible.

You can also combine VistaSwitcher and NumPad Transformer with a freeware called Switcher, that will present all open windows as large thumbnails in something like a gallery mode, known as expose in Apple systems, and as Instant View, in the IntelliType and IntelliPoint Microsoft software.

Switcher is a flexible application, better than expose or Instant Viewer, letting you configure many aspects and select between three modes of arranging the thumbnails on screen.

 What would you like next?  Perhaps an easier way to shutdown…

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2 Responses

  1. Timmy says:

    How would I do this for Windows Vista?

  2. I would suggest using VistaSwitcher. In case you prefer to return to the old XP alt-tab, just follow the Windows 7 directions: open your Vista Registry Editor, create a DWORD called AltTabSettings in \HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer and set it to 1.