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I wonder if it is possible to natively or with some hack to make Alt+Tab only cycle through a sub-set of the currently active programs?

In other words, I have 15 windows/programs open and wish to cycle through say photoshop, illustrator and sublime text.


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Hope that clarifies the question. – Infra Stank Nov 19 '12 at 15:36
Thank you for making the update. How would this hack work - the computer would never know to only cycle through those programs as what would happen if only 1 or 2 of the programs were open at once. I will be amazed if this is possible (although I understand why you would want to do this) – Dave Nov 19 '12 at 15:37
I'm positive it would be possible. You would need to define a group of programs, make it so alt tab would only switch between them regardless of how many of them were open. – Infra Stank Nov 19 '12 at 15:41
if it were going to be possible, you would first have to define which programs you want to cycle through. At that point I think you would be looking for a third party app with a separate hotkey combination. That tool may exist. – EBGreen Nov 19 '12 at 15:41
Thank's Dave, a little overkill for what I'm after. I may build this if I can't find another program. – Infra Stank Nov 19 '12 at 15:45

This isn't exactly what you're after but does do the job! VistaSwitcher

Quote from their website:

You can switch between applications only on your active monitor and filter out the applications shown on other monitors. Use Ctrl+Alt+Tab instead of the usual Alt-Tab, and VistaSwitcher automatically determines application windows on your active monitor and filters the dialog off the other app’s windows.

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What you are asking for is basically Compiz like alt-tab switcher that is available in Linux. Unfortunately, there's no app that does this task for Windows that I know of. Although you could try this simple trick to switch faster while working.

Quote from the site:

Press and hold the Ctrl key, then click on the application icon or button on the Windows 7 Taskbar. A window frame of the application will open. Continuously clicking on the application icon or button on the Taskbar will switch and rotate between different open windows of the specific application only, significantly improve task switching speed when compared with using Alt+Tab or Win+Tab which rotates between all open windows of all different applications.

The trick above works on all applications that can have multiple or more than one windows open (but not tabs).

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I wondered the same. As I did not find a suitable application, I wrote a little Autohotkey-Script that does the task. You need Autohotkey_L to run it.

Once you started it, you can use Ctrl+Win+A to add the active window to the set and Ctrl+Win+S to remove it. Use Ctrl+Win+ and Ctrl+Win+ to cycle through the window set.

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@InfraStank, did this work? Is so you should mark it as answer – Dave Dec 24 '15 at 6:52

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