# Disable or delay Alt+Tab Aero Peek effect in Windows 7

In Windows 7 pressing Alt+Tab shows the transparent windows (Aero) effect. The screen change is distracting while I'm trying to figure out which window to switch to based on the thumbnail preview (which is sufficient for me most of the time). Is there any way to turn off the Aero Peek effect or delay its activation to something like 6 seconds or so?

On the Taskbar the Aero Peek effect is brought up on-demand when I mouse over the actual thumbnails. This behavior is not an issue and if I have a choice, I do not want it to be turned off.

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repeat question? superuser.com/questions/45259/… –  ricbax Nov 20 '09 at 4:07
@ricbax it's a different question - this one wants to disable it just for alt-tab, the other wants to just change the delay. –  nhinkle Apr 7 '11 at 4:23
I found a way to disable the Aero Peek for only ALT+TAB without impacting other uses of the effect and have added an answer accordingly. –  Twisty Dec 6 '14 at 22:24

You might find vistaswitcher more to your liking. It gives an instant preview box mid-screen (configurable), without doing the slow transparency fade. Try it!

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Hey this looks good. I'll give it a try. :) –  huggie Nov 23 '09 at 3:15
I still prefer the original grid layout and thumbnails. But this is at least one possible solution. Thanks. –  huggie Nov 23 '09 at 10:06

There is no way to properly disable aero peek for just alt-tab, but you can set the delay to an absurdly high value, effectively disabling it. There is another post detailing this process. Essentially, you need to create the DWORD value LivePreview_ms in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AltTab to a very large number. This key stores the time in milliseconds to delay, so 60000 ought to be enough, since I doubt you hold alt-tab for more than a minute.

Note that setting the registry key to 0 disables Aero-peek for Alt-Tab entirely. You have to log out and in again for the change to take effect.

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This should be the correct the answer to the question, not outsideblasts' answer. :-( –  Mike Clark Apr 7 '11 at 22:00
@MikeClark I appreciate the support, although whatever worked best for the person asking the question should be the answer I suppose. I did find Addendumb's answer a bit weird though, especially with all those upvotes... he suggested exactly what the poster didn't want to do! –  nhinkle Apr 7 '11 at 22:34
This is close, but it apparently doesn't support values > 3000, and a value of 0 will disable completely. social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/w7itproui/thread/… –  Kyle A Sep 8 '11 at 16:12
Try setting it to 1. It is not distracting (for me) if it is immediate. –  Endy Tjahjono May 2 '12 at 13:02

You can fix this in performance; I had the same issue. It's not "our brain having problems," it's crappy usability due to feature bloat. Alt-tab was more or less perfect in Vista.

Go into Adjust Visual Effects (from Performance in the Control Panel) and uncheck Aero Peek.

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It's actually not feature bloat. Some of us find this feature very useful, and regularly alt-tab between windows to see what's going on there without needing to actually switch to it and then back again. Comes in quite in handy. If there were no way to turn it off it could be considered bad, as you have no way to opt out of it if you don't like it. But you have a way to turn it off, so it gives those who don't like it a way to not use it. –  eidylon Dec 15 '09 at 17:25
Problem is, you lose all Aero Peek features by disabling it, so no, there's no good way to disable the new alt-tab without losing other functionality. Besides, isn't what you describe the entire purpose of Win-tab? Why don't you use that and let us perfectly content alt-tabbers have our fast, simple, and uncluttered interface? Again, I call feature bloat! -Addendumb –  Addendumb Dec 16 '09 at 22:13
Wow, thanks for the tip. This has been bugging me for months. I actually use 2 computers. On one, Aero Peek works as intended, I guess. I cycle through the windows as the center box shows the current selection. On the other one, my Thinkpad T60, the center window disappears a split second after pressing Alt-Tab, and I am lost in a series of screens that fade in and out without knowing where I am. By turning Aero Peek off, I at least can use Alt-Tab again. –  cdonner Dec 19 '09 at 2:54
@cdonner: I get the same issue with my Thinkpad T510 and it's really annoying, any idea how to fix it? –  Daniel Beardsley Feb 3 '11 at 8:50
This completely disabled aero peek. Which is exactly what the poster said they don't want to do. –  nhinkle Apr 7 '11 at 4:24

Another trick you can do is use the "old" alt-tab that is present in Windows 7:

1. Hold down the left alt key
2. Tap the right alt key
3. Still holding the left alt, use the tab key as you would normally to cycle through tasks

You'll notice that this uses the old alt-tab style switcher and does not fade out windows for you.

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You may be interested in a Windows 7 feature that is somewhat similar to alt-tab: WinKey+1, WinKey+2, WinKey+3, etc. These hotkeys activate the windows on the taskbar at positions 1, 2, 3, etc.

If you pin your frequently used programs to the task bar, they will always be at a certain "slot position" on the taskbar. Because of this, it will be trivially easy to memorize which WinKey+N lines up with which program. Pressing WinKey+N repeatedly will "alt tab" through just that program's open windows. I find this particularly useful with Windows Explorer windows, because I often have a lot of them open.

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As totally cool as this is, it doesn't answer the OP's question. But I'm happy to know about it anyway. I also found that Win+Alt+# opens the Context menu for the Pinned item. –  Twisty Dec 6 '14 at 18:34

I know this is a rather old topic, but I also never liked the Areo Peek feature when using Alt+TAB to switch tasks. Furthermore, I don't refuse Areo Peek completely - for example, I like just having a look at my Windows desktop using WIN+Space.

I tried a lot to disable Areo Peek just only for Alt+TAB task switching, but nothing really worked for me. I know about all the registry hints, for example setting the Aero Peek delay in milliseconds to a very high value. But this does not work, at least not on all machines - from my experience, you can set a high value which is still limited to 3000 ms internally (maybe this worked before the Service Pack for Windows 7).

So I decided to go another way and try to solve this issue via AutoHotkey. This script disables Aero Peek just for Alt+TAB, and only for this - so you can still use the other Aero Peek features.

The script is tested against AutoHotkey Version "AutoHotkey_L 1.1.00.00" with Windows 7 Professional 64 bit with a Windows user with admin rights - and until now reported to work on all systems I got feedback from. Just install AutoHotkey and set the script file to be run automatically when Windows starts. It is very lightweight, using only very few resources and CPU time.

I just post it here in hope this will help anyone having this issue. Please download the script from:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/15020526/Privat/Software/GA/AutoHotkey/DisableAeroPeekForAltTab_1.0.zip

; ==============================================================
;
; AVOID "AERO PEEK" FOR ALT-TAB - AUTOHOTKEY-SCRIPT
;
; Disables Windows 7 Areo Peek feature for ALT-TAB, and only
; for this, so that other Areo Peek features (like WIN+SPACE)
; can still be used.
;
; This script can be run with AutoHotkey (http://www.autohotkey.com/),
; tested against Version AutoHotkey_L 1.1.00.00 with Windows 7
; Professional 64 bit with a Windows user with admin rights.
;
; @author   Timo Rumland <timo.rumland${at}the-cr.de>, 19.09.2011 ; @version 1.0 ; ; -------------------------------------------------------------- ; ; LICENSE ; ; This software is distributed under the FreeBSD License. ; ; Copyright (c) 2011 Timo Rumland <timo.rumland${at}the-cr.de>. All rights reserved.
;
; Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are
; permitted provided that the following conditions are met:
;
;    1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of
;       conditions and the following disclaimer.
;
;    2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list
;       of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials
;       provided with the distribution.
;
; THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY <COPYRIGHT HOLDER> ''AS IS'' AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED
; WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND
; FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL <COPYRIGHT HOLDER> OR
; CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR
; CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR
; SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON
; ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING
; NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF
; ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
;
; The views and conclusions contained in the software and documentation are those of the
; authors and should not be interpreted as representing official policies, either expressed
; or implied, of <copyright holder>.
;
; ==============================================================

#NoEnv
#SingleInstance     force
SendMode            Input
SetWorkingDir       %A_ScriptDir%
SetTitleMatchMode   2       ; 2: A window's title can contain WinTitle anywhere inside it to be a match.

; =======
; Global
; =======

visualEffectsRegistryKey                := Object()
visualEffectsRegistryKey.valueType      := "REG_DWORD"
visualEffectsRegistryKey.rootKey        := "HKEY_CURRENT_USER"
visualEffectsRegistryKey.subKey         := "Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\VisualEffects"
visualEffectsRegistryKey.valueName      := "VisualFXSetting"
visualEffectsRegistryKey.value          := 3    ; Manual Visual FX Settings

enableAeroPeekRegistryKey               := Object()
enableAeroPeekRegistryKey.valueType     := "REG_DWORD"
enableAeroPeekRegistryKey.rootKey       := "HKEY_CURRENT_USER"
enableAeroPeekRegistryKey.subKey        := "Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM"
enableAeroPeekRegistryKey.valueName     := "EnableAeroPeek"
enableAeroPeekRegistryKey.enabledValue  := 1
enableAeroPeekRegistryKey.disabledValue := 0

; ===============
; Initialization
; ===============

; Initially write "VisualFXSetting" registry key to "manual settings"
writeRegistryKey( visualEffectsRegistryKey, visualEffectsRegistryKey.value )

; ========
; Hotkeys
; ========

; -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
; This is the ALT-TAB hotkey that triggers setting Aero Peek to disabled
; right before Windows displays the ALt-TAB-Menu. After releasing the ALT-key,
; Areo Peek will be enabled again.
; -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
~!Tab::

writeRegistryKey( enableAeroPeekRegistryKey, enableAeroPeekRegistryKey.disabledValue )
KeyWait Alt
writeRegistryKey( enableAeroPeekRegistryKey, enableAeroPeekRegistryKey.enabledValue )

return

; ==========
; Functions
; ==========

; ----------------------------------------------------------------------
; Writes the given value to the given registry key. The "registryKey"
; is an object with the properties "valueType", "rootKey", "subKey" and
; "valueName", suitable to the AHK function "RegWrite".
; ----------------------------------------------------------------------
writeRegistryKey( registryKey, value )
{
valueType   := registryKey.valueType
rootKey     := registryKey.rootKey
subKey      := registryKey.subKey
valueName   := registryKey.valueName

RegWrite %valueType%, %rootKey%, %subKey%, %valueName%, %value%
}


You can distribute it freely, under the FreeBSD-license.

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Hi, isn't it allowed to use short links? –  It's Leto Sep 26 '11 at 10:35

You can mouse-hover the thumbnail preview at the center of the screen while you keep ALT+Tab depressed. Despite the background windows still cycling, the mouse motion will focus your attention on the thumbnails. I find this less confusing than repeatedly hitting tab while ALT is depressed. You then just click on the window you want to move.

Also Win+Tab is less confusing too. You may get used to it faster than Alt+Tab.

Note also that you can do the opposite. So far we have been trained into paying attention to the center thumbnails. But with the window cycling being offered with ALT+TAB you can train yourself into starting to disregard the center thumbnails and instead focus your attention on the window cycle. After a while I'm pretty sure you'll be wondering why was this ever a problem to you. It's all in our brain :)

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Say I have 15 windows open for various applications, then I think it's probably fair to say that thumbnails gives you an at-a-glance on all windows. Don't you find it faster to switch with thumbnails in this case? Because you know exacty that you'll need to press say 5 times to a particular window instead of checking it one by one. –  huggie Nov 23 '09 at 3:09
GOLD PRO TIP (from the answer): Win+Tab –  Metagrapher May 15 '12 at 13:55

You CAN disable Aero Peek for only ALT+TAB

The solution is to set the following Registry value which restores the Windows XP-Style behavior of ALT+TAB:

1. Run REGEDIT.EXE
2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
3. Create new DWORD value named AltTabSettings and set its value to 1
4. The change takes effect immediately.

Set-ItemProperty HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer AltTabSettings ([int]1)