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When I click on a program that's currently running in the taskbar, if I have multiple windows open in that app (usually Chrome), instead of switching to the app instantly I have to click on the window I wanted before it switches. Is there any way to just switch back and forth between apps by clicking once, or am I stuck with the multiple clicks? I know I could do multiple keystrokes to do Alt + Tab, but I don't want to always do that either.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The only way I can find to do it is to set the Taskbar to Never combine or Combine when the taskbar is full. This will effectively make the Taskbar buttons behave the way they do in Vista, and earlier (i.e. where each application instance has its own button).

  1. Right click on the Taskbar and click on Properties.
  2. In the Taskbar buttons combo-box, select Combine when taskbar is full, or select Never combine.

If you still want the Taskbar button labels to be hidden, then you can apply the following registry setting.

  1. Go to Start > Run, type regedit and then hit Enter.
  2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Control Panel > Desktop > WindowMetrics in the left pane of the Registry Editor.
  3. Right click in a blank area of the right pane, click on New > String Value.
  4. Type MinWidth for the name, and hit Enter
  5. Double click on MinWidth and set the Value data text field to the width (in pixels) of your Taskbar icons.
    • If you have Use small icons turned on, anywhere between 32 and 40 will do.
    • If you have Use small icons turned off, anywhere between 48 and 56 will do.
  6. Reboot (logging off and back on wasn't enough during my test, I actually had to reboot).

Note: The higher the value you use for MinWidth, the more padding will be between the icon and the edges of the Tasbar button. If you go over the maximums I listed, the labels will start to show.

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Excellent answer, Works well, and thanks for the extra info about hiding the label. –  UserZer0 Sep 12 '13 at 1:44

You said you don't want to do Alt+Tab for switching but one option that, while may not be a single keystroke, could decrease the number of keystrokes

Pressing Win+(a number) will cycle through open windows of that specific slot on the task bar.

For example here is my task bar:

enter image description here

  • Pressing Win+1 will open a new copy of IE
  • Pressing Win+2 will directly open the single folder I had open
  • Pressing Win+3 repeatly will cycle through the two open Firefox windows I have open.
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We'll see what the OP thinks, but my thoughts are that this isn't any less cumbersome than ALT + Tab since then you have to count how far over your app is (not a big deal for 3 open apps, but what if the OP has more than 5 apps open?), and potentially repeat the keystroke multiple times. Otherwise a good tip though. –  druciferre Sep 12 '13 at 1:01

I think this may be closer to what you were envisioning than what the other answers have suggested. It does require a Registry edit, but I find it to be a big improvement over the default behavior. With this change applied, clicking an application in the taskbar will cause its last active window will be shown instantly. You can click multiple times to cycle among windows of an application. (The preview feature is still available by hovering over the taskbar icon.) Setting this option is always one of the first things I do when I set up Windows on a new computer. Here are the steps:

  1. Launch the Registry Editor (click Start, type regedit, then press Enter)
  2. Use the tree control on the left to navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\​Software\​Microsoft\​Windows\​CurrentVersion\​Explorer\​Advanced
  3. On the Edit menu, click New, then DWORD (32-bit) Value
  4. Name the value LastActiveClick and then press Enter
  5. Press Enter again to edit the value; change the value to 1 and click OK
  6. Reboot (or kill and restart explorer.exe using the Task Manager)

Works in both Windows 7 and Windows 8.

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