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Up until upgrading to Windows 8, I would use Alt+Esc to make a window go to the end of the Alt-Tab list, and "get out of the way." For example, if my Alt+Tab list looks like:


With A as the active window, hitting Alt+Esc will make it into:


With B active, and Alt+Tabing once will end with window C:


Ever since I got Windows 8, this isn't working any more –– hitting Alt+Esc hides the active window, but Alt+Tab will get it right back.

Why is that? Is there a way to get it back?

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I found many a similar questions dated to the move from XP to Windows 7, but nothing from recent years. – aviv Jan 21 '13 at 15:58
For many reasons, I find that "upgrading to Windows 8" is really downgrading the user experience. Your example is not the only one. – harrymc Mar 5 '13 at 19:54
up vote 3 down vote accepted

From Wikipedia's Alt-Tab :

When the Alt+Tab task switcher window is not active, Alt+Esc places the active window at the bottom of the Z-order. In Windows 8 the behavior has changed, the window will be moved level down the Z-order instead of going to the end.

If you want Windows 8's Alt-Esc to work as it used to work in Windows 7, the answer is negative - there is no information whether this is possible. Maybe in the future something will come up, but not now.

If you don't need a touch screen and you want your computer to behave like it did in Windows 7, the only solution is to go back to Windows 7.

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It looks like the Win32 API function SetWindowPos may be able to do this. I'll see if I can do something with that when I get a bit of time (maybe tomorrow). (cc @aviv) – Bob Mar 8 '13 at 7:36
The Windows API for doing that certainly still exists, the problem is that the Alt+Tab switcher does not use it. Writing your own extension that will hook Alt+Tab and do it your way will surely work. Your best tool may be Autohotkey, using the DllCall command. – harrymc Mar 8 '13 at 8:18
Are you saying the task switcher keeps its own independent list of windows? – Bob Mar 8 '13 at 8:32
I am saying that it has its own way of calling SetWindowPos that evidently is not what you want. Remark: In Autohotkey it is much easier to use the WinSet command, rather than DllCall. – harrymc Mar 8 '13 at 8:46
A bit more testing, and it seems that SetWindowPos itself has changed as of Windows 8 - I get the expected behaviour on Windows 7. Good job, Microsoft, you broke it. – Bob Mar 8 '13 at 8:58

This app does the job and is a little configurable:


I would like to speak with the Microsoft genius who decided to eliminate the ALT+ESC functionality.

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