Is there an alt-tab replacement for Windows 7 that works in the same manner as command-tab and command-tick (tilde) on OS X?


1. Completely keyboard-shortcut-based, no mouse action should be necessary.

2. 2 keyboard shortcuts with the following behavior:

a.) alt+tab: cycles through open applications (NOT windows... applications, meaning even if i have 10 firefox windows open, I only want to see firefox once in the list that comes up when i hit this shortcut)

b.) alt+`: cycles through WINDOWS that are instances of the currently active application (meaning if firefox is my active window and i hit shortcut2, it will cycle through those 10 firefox windows, while ignoring any other windows from ANY other application).

Update 08:40 5/21: I tried out eidylon's suggestion, TopDesk. It doesn't provide any of the functionality described here. Other apps I've already tried:

  • VistaSwitcher
  • Switcher
  • Dexpot (awesome app, still using, but doesn't do what I want in this case... also looked for plugins but couldn't find one that does it)
  • UltraMon
  • Nvidia nView

update: Unfortunately I still haven't found a solution for this.

update: made this a community wiki in case anyone is ever able to find a solution for this.

  • 2
    Not a solution, so here's a nifty tip: In the Mac OS X, you can press Command-Tilde (~) to switch between the windows of the currently open application. Third party software like Witch (manytricks.com/witch) can give your Mac a more Windows like window switching interface also.
    – dotHTM
    Commented May 21, 2010 at 14:03
  • Yes, I love that combo. As stated above, I can duplicate that functionality with VistaSwitcher, but not the command-tab behavior unfortunately. I edited the OP to be more clear on what functionality of OS X I'm trying to duplicate. Commented May 21, 2010 at 14:41
  • 6
    The grass is always greener on the other side. I would love to have on Mac OS X the Cmd+Tab to behave as Alt+Tab on Windows. =( Commented Jun 14, 2010 at 8:27
  • I think there's some apps that will do that Sergio... Not positive but I remember seeing mention of one called "witch" or something that can be configured like that. Commented Jun 17, 2010 at 21:48
  • Have you tried in Dexpot the "Window catalog" ?
    – harrymc
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 7:49

15 Answers 15


I happened to have written a script that does (almost) just the thing, using AutoHotkey. It's a lot closer than simply remapping ALT+` to ALT+F6.


If getting AutoHotkey set up with this code is too much overhead, just ask, and I will gladly post a lightweight compiled executable that will run in the background.

Otherwise, download cycleWindow.ahk and its dependency Thumbnail Lib.ahk, then execute the following AHK code to create your ALT+` hotkey:

#Include cycleWindow.ahk

This switches windows of the same class, just like in Mac OS. However, Alt-Tab will still function as usual for Windows.

  • This is I believe the only answer currently answering the question. Thanks much - as an AHK user, this works great :)
    – enderland
    Commented Apr 4, 2013 at 21:34
  • @enderland Glad you like it! Commented May 17, 2013 at 17:34
  • Thanks from me too! I'm using this in combination with Emcee, and have Windows+~ mapped to bring up "Mission Control" and Alt+~ to switch among windows. Works really well.
    – scobi
    Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 7:34
  • Glad to hear it :-). Sounds like a nice setup... Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 16:05
  • Unfortunately the files are gone Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 13:03

Win+T cycles between the apps in the taskbar. Or press Win+T once and then use the left/right arrow keys to move between apps.

It's not quite the same behavior as Cmd+Tab because the Cmd+Tab list is dynamically updated to reflect the retrospective order in which the apps have been accessed, whilst the Windows taskbar order is manually controlled.

But its a matter of opinion as to whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

I would also like to see a Cmd+Tab clone for Windows.


Using AutoHotkey, you can get a Command-Tilde equivalent by mapping a shortcut to Alt+F6 (which switches windows of the current app, as Daniel Beck said).

I use the following simple script to do this (I map Alt+` (backquote), which is "!`" in AutoHotKey's syntax:

Send !{F6}

Vista Switcher allows you to switch windows within an application. It even uses Alt+` for the hotkey to do so. Sadly it doesn't work the exact same as Command+Tab when pressing Alt+Tab. Instead it just behaves like regular Windows Alt+Tab.

  • Thanks, this is what I've been using for quite awhile. It's really a great switcher, excepting that functionality you mentioned. I probably should contact the dev and request that feature. The only other thing abou VistaSwitcher is that it really slows down remote desktop. Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 0:21

I found a solution! Follow the instructions here: http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/16334/make-the-taskbar-buttons-switch-to-the-last-active-window-in-windows-7/

And, then if you press windows + # of what place the program is in the task bar, it will switch to the last window of that program. This works best for windows you've pinned to the task bar and therefore know what # they are. For example, windows + 3 switches between my two open chrome windows.

  • 1
    Can you include the relevant parts of the answer here. Then if the link ever dies the answer is still useful.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 13:03

I don't know if it fits your needs, but you could check these tips out: http://www.applesource.com.au/how-to/soa/How-to-Alt-tab-on-Mac-OS-X/0,2000451082,339287482,00.htm

  • While this link is helpful for OS X, what I actually need is for some of the functionality discussed on that page to be available in Windows 7. Commented May 21, 2010 at 14:06
  • I'm sorry, I misread!
    – Pylsa
    Commented May 21, 2010 at 14:19
  • 3
    No problem, your answer showed me that I needed to clarify my OP. I edited and hopefully it makes more sense now :) Commented May 21, 2010 at 15:01

Check out TopDesk from Otaku Software.

  • This is more of a visual alt-tab replacement rather than a functional, behavioral replacement. Pretty cool for replicating expose though. Commented May 21, 2010 at 14:58

Now, I know this method is mouse as opposed to keyboard, but it does replicate the same functionality somewhat (from what I can tell from your updated q, never used Mac myself), just a different means of getting to it. If you're not wedded to the idea of strict KB experience, it may help...

It will make it so clicking on the taskbar button in Win7 switch to the last active window of that app (switching applications) and clicking it repeatedly will cycle through the windows of that application in usage order.

For applications which do not open multiple documents as multiple taskbar buttons as say IE does (for example, FF without the secret switch on) you would still need to use CTRL-TAB as you said, but any app which actually opens tiles on the tasbar, this will work.

  • That's a really cool trick. Still doesn't solve the fundamental issue though. Editing the OP to clarify some more. Commented May 21, 2010 at 17:50

I don't know about the switching between open applications but if you do Ctrl+Tab you'll be able to switch between open windows of the same application. This works on Firefox, IE, Excel, Word, etc, etc.

  • 1
    No, alt-tab in Windows switches between all open windows, not just windows of the same application. Do you mean ctrl-tab? Commented May 21, 2010 at 14:46
  • My bad, I did mean Ctrl+Tab.
    – Hondalex
    Commented May 21, 2010 at 20:35
  • 1
    Doesn't Ctrl-Tab switch between Firefox tabs? Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 15:59
  • Yes, and it also does in IE and any other app where you have something open within it.
    – Hondalex
    Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 17:57

You can use Alt+F6 to cycle through windows in a multi-window application. (untested, via @SansMouse). Should help with part of your question at least.


You won't be able to do this (at least not without writing your own app) on Windows. Mac differentiates windows per-application, while Windows does not. This is why Alt+Tab and Alt+` are allowed. This is also why Expose supports current-app windows and all-windows modes of operation.

  • There also isn't a simple rule for doing this, even based on title bar content, since apps tend to not follow a standard "content title - app title" vs "app title - content title". Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 18:02
  • unfortunately, sometimes the only answer is that there is no answer. Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 15:03
  • although I will point out that VistaSwitcher DOES know how to differentiate between windows per-application. So there must be some way of doing it (maybe not natively through a simple windows api). The thing that VistaSwitcher is lacking is an option to make alt-tab only switch applications and not all windows. So it has half the functionality I described... Commented Oct 7, 2010 at 0:02
  • Windows can tell what windows belong to what application—that's how on XP and Vista, it's able to group windows by application if the taskbar gets full. I think it does the same thing always on 7 as well, though I don't remember as clearly for that version.
    – zpletan
    Commented Sep 22, 2011 at 17:45

Ohh... I was missing my Mac's ALT+` so much... But I have just found the Windows 7 equivalent: CTRL+F6

Google "CTRL F6" for more info.


I found a solution that works for me, based on another partial solution (unfortunately, I cannot recall where I found that so cannot give due credit).

First, locate the IE "Window Switcher" shortcut on your PC (This is a shortcut or .LNK file):

C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\Window Switcher

and copy it to a directory where you can easily locate it. For example:

C:\autohotkey\Window Switcher

Now add the following to your .ahk file:

LWin & Tab:: 
Run, "C:\home\jseidel\Window Switcher"
SetSwitch = 1

~$*LWin up::
if SetSwitch = 1
  Send {Return}
  SetSwitch = 0

One more product to try : Alt-Tab Thingy, available for Windows XP, Vista & 7.

A short description is available here : Alt-Tab Thingy – Windows Task Switcher Alternative



I'm not a Mac OS user, but have you tried Win+Tab? Significantly different than Alt+Tab and possibly to your liking.

  • WinKey-Tab gives Flip3D, which is just a fancier Alt-Tab, on Vista and above. Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 17:54
  • correct, with a window-pane preview... yada yada
    – Hardryv
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 22:31

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