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On Windows when I do alt+tab I can switch between windows. If I have 5 firefox windows open then using alt+tab will switch between them.

On my MacBook, cmd+tab switches between applications, not windows, so it will switch between firefox and xcode, but not between two different firefox windows.

I am sure there is SOME way to use keyboard shortcuts to switch between active windows. What am I missing?

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Just in case you never saw it: see also support.apple.com/kb/HT1343 and apple.com/support/switch101 –  Arjan Sep 22 '09 at 22:07
thank you all. I've eventually decided to change the keybinding for this in the system settings and now i am using <kbd>Cmd</kbd>-<kbd>§</kbd>. Hope i didn't break anything else. –  Nir Levy Sep 24 '09 at 11:28
@Arjan this mostly doesn't work on international keyboards, where often ` on same key as ´ and is obtained by pressing Shift+´ :-( –  Victor May 19 '13 at 11:46
@Nir Levy THANKS! On my german keyboard (OS X 10.8) the mappings were "Focus to next window" => Cmd+`, and "Focus to ?toolbar?(Seitenleiste des Fensters)" => Cmd+Shift+`. Since both ´ and ` are on same key (see my previous comment), rotating between application windows went only in one direction. All I had to to was change the 1st mapping to Cmd+´ and 2nd mapping to something else, e.g. Cmd+ß, and suddenly window switching works in both directions: Cmd+´ and Cmd+Shift+ ´. That simple... BTW, the default suggested by OSX is Cmd+< for Window switching. –  Victor May 19 '13 at 12:11

10 Answers 10

up vote 59 down vote accepted

Cmd-` toggles through the windows forward.

Cmd-Shift-` toggles through the windows in reverse.

Cmd - alt - arrowkey switches between tabs

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What's that angle bracket shortcut again? It does not work on my mac. And why is it the only one using '+' instead of '-' between keys? –  Cawas Apr 13 '10 at 19:50
cmd-shift is nice, didn't know that before. –  TomA Aug 23 '10 at 15:01
When did Cmd+> Cmd+< happen? I don't have them on 10.5. –  taw Oct 7 '10 at 12:18
On my Macbook Air with Mountain Lion, Cmd+> just beeps like an invalid key combination. It does not switch windows. –  Howiecamp Aug 10 '12 at 21:28
@Am1rr3zA - On my Macbook Air with Mountain Lion, Cmd+> just beeps like an invalid key combination. It does not switch windows. –  Howiecamp Aug 10 '12 at 22:09

There's a 3rd party app called Witch which will let you cycle through all windows of all apps.

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Along with the other suggested shortcuts, you could always use Exposé.

On a recent MacBook, or aluminium keyboard, the 'F3' key is dedicated to Exposé. If you don't have a keyboard with an Exposé key on it, you can use 'F9' and 'F10':

  • F3 or F9 to show all windows on the current space.

  • Ctrl-F3 or F10 to show all windows belonging to the current application on the current space.

For even easier access, I use the four-finger upward swipe to activate Exposé.

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It's actually not F3 key, it's a fn key located on top of the F3. –  Cawas Apr 13 '10 at 19:50
The issue with Exposé is that the order of the windows tiles/miniatures shown by Exposé changes. E.g. I have FireFox with six open windows. As soon as I switch from one of those windows to another, Exposé shows them next time in another unpredictable order and I loose the overview. –  Victor May 19 '13 at 11:36

Your looking for Cmd+` or if your not sure the one with the ~.

This will cycle through all open windows for a single application.

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Surround the text you want with <kbd> and </kbd>. –  John Rudy Sep 22 '09 at 21:28
except in safari on a macbook plus with mountain lion... –  drevicko Dec 19 '12 at 8:13
@drevicko It works for me on that setup –  Diago Dec 19 '12 at 8:20
@Diago interesting! Do you know if you did anything special to make it so? Mine is an out-of-the-box factory install just a few weeks old.. –  drevicko Dec 20 '12 at 0:09
@drevicko Alt+` switches between windows. Ctrl+tab switches between tabs. Factory install on both my MacBook Pro and iMac. Just confirm which your trying to switch. I tend to ever only have one Safari window open but just tested again and it does work, actually it works in all application. –  Diago Dec 20 '12 at 7:08

On my Swedish Mac keyboard the ´ and ` are on the same key. For the back-tick is a shifted forward-tick.

So, I can only use cmd-shift-` to cycle the windows in one direction, and it doesn't work in all apps, like the terminal. Very annoying.

As Doug Harris pointed out Witch is a really nice way of "solving" this problem for Windows to Mac switchers that have alt-tab the muscle memory.

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For future visitors: to remap the keys, see also Victor's comment on the question. (But I guess that for you, Jörgen, after more than 3 years you're used to it now.) –  Arjan May 19 '13 at 12:44
Only $14 more to get your mac to be almost usable! (Witch currently costs $14) –  Fixee Aug 25 '14 at 6:51

Optimal Layout is another commercial app that gives you a simple way to switch between application windows from the keyboard.

Disclaimer: I'm the developer of Optimal Layout.

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CMD-` will cycle through open windows.

CMD-Shift-` will cycle through them in reverse.

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This is incorrect. It cycles through open windows of a given application. –  Howiecamp Aug 10 '12 at 22:20

For switching through tabs, I prefer these shortcuts:

Cmd-{ to move left.

Cmd-} to move right.

I find those keys more comfortable than the arrow keys.

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there's also ctrl+tab and ctrl+shift+tab for even more uncomfortable ones. ;) –  Cawas Apr 13 '10 at 19:51

On Mountain Lion it became a (nicer IMO) opt+tab. On a US keyboard, that is.

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CMD+` Switches between open windows in an application.

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