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I'm looking for the functionality that you can find on window managers like awesome, screen, and tmux where you can specify the window you want to switch to with a directional key.

When using applications one at a time, it makes sense to think about them as a stack and navigating that stack using alt+tab is a good workflow.

However when I have more than one (in my case about 5 across my 3 monitors) application fully visible it is no longer a trivial task to switch to one that is in a particular position. I can see it, yet my choices are to either pick up the mouse or hunt for it in the alt-tab-switcher menu, neither of which is ideal considering the simplicity of what I want (which is to move to the next window to the left or right which was last active -- note that last active means that it is top-most visibility order).

Are there any programs that can detect the position of active windows and gives shortcuts that can intelligently do this sort of switching, on either Windows or OS X?

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see my answer on UX – Vijay Mar 13 '13 at 5:20

I have used AutoHotkey for several desktop automation tasks such as win+ to reactivate a window after it has been minimized to the tray with win+. There are already a good number of scripts available for AHK. Perhaps one of it does what you need, however I'm pretty sure writing a script on your own which accomplishes your task would be accomplishable with moderate effort.

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So are you saying that I should use AHK scripts to evaluate (presumably by looping over them) the open windows to pick which one to skip to by querying for their size/locations? I'm hoping to find a tool that already does this out of the box. Maybe I'm the only person in the world who finds OS UX lacking. – Steven Lu Mar 7 '13 at 17:35
@StevenLu This is not too complicated, the windows are stacked according to their precedence on the screen. It's really not that difficult. – Christoph Mar 8 '13 at 9:04

If you know, which window you want, you can use Win+1 all the way through Win+9 to activate this specific window (enumerated by position in the task bar).

If there's more than one window that is stacked in that position (if you have stacking enabled), pressing the number over again will cycle through all windows of that stack. (much like Pressing Tab multiple times in the Alt+Tab shortcut).

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Oh wow this is amazing that in all these years I have never figured out the Win+Number keys. I do also know that the taskbar can be reordered by dragging, so this is actually really good for Windows. – Steven Lu Feb 27 '15 at 13:05

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