August 22, 2010

Cool Switcher

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normalThe easiest way to switch between running apps on Windows is ALT-TAB. Windows XP and earlier has a small popup window which display just the icons of running application. It displayed the title of the running app only when  you  “cycle” thru them to figure out which one you wanted to switch to.

Windows Switcher 

Vista and Windows 7 made it easier with switch window which shows a thumbnail preview (which looks a lot like OSX switch except that OSX has cool feature of bring it up with 4 fingers swipe sideways Smile ).


As shown in the screen shot, ALT-TAB does show thumbnail previews but the are too small and if there are multiple instances of an application running, it still doesn't help you in differentiating them until you alt-tab to them and read the description.

I have been using large resolution displays like 1900x1200, which tends to make the icons smaller unless you change the DPI. I understand that switcher window is not a regular app but why does the window have to be so small?


Welcome to VistaSwitcher. Don’t go by the name, it works on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. It replaces the ALT-TAB key so you can continue to use your finger memory to switch apps.

The advantage of VistaSwitcher are:

  1. Large Window – Clear visibility
  2. Full window preview – You can actually read the contents
  3. App titles – You can see without cycling thru
  4. Numbered List – quick selection by number


It also adds another cool feature with ATL-` which allows you to switch between multiple instance of the currently selected app. Example, if you have multiple instance of IE or Word open and you want to switch to another, no need to use ALT-TAB and wade thru other apps, just press ALT-` (This one also come from OSX Cmd-` feature).


The above screen shot shows ONLY instance of IE and not the other running apps to quickly switch to another IE window.

Wait.. there is more

You can use mouse instead of keyboard to bring up the switcher.. but you need to enable it from preferences.. Right Click + Wheel Scroll.

Mouse can also be used to select apps from the switch window and it even allows right click to take actions on the running apps For example, you could select a set of apps and tile, cascade and even end task them.



VistaSwitcher is a free app which adds a lot of features to ALT-TAB switching and provides large, crisp and readable preview to make switching between tasks easier.

Happy Switching Smile


  1. Cool post....however i also liked the new preview when we press Windows Key + TAB

  2. Anil, Aero Flip (Win-Tab) is cool for effects but not efficiency. If I need to find a particular window, I would prefer a list of windows with title accessible quickly by numbers of mouse than to cycle thru all windows using ALT-TAB and Win-Tab.