I want to cycle trough the windows of the currently active application on Mac OS X. Some applications respond to Ctrl + Tab but they all seem to do something else. I want to switch between the Entourage mainscreen and the message I am writing for instance. Is there a such a keyword shortcut?

7 Answers 7


Command + ` (the ~ key) works with many programs.

  • 3
    OK, so I have to ask, how do you get the key effect? Jul 15, 2009 at 9:15
  • 8
    The HTML tag "KBD" is allowed. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1777/… Jul 15, 2009 at 9:30
  • This seems to work only in English keyboards ? I have a Japanese keyboard and the <kbd>Command</kbd> + <kbd>`</kbd> does nothing for me. I defined <kbd>Ctrl</kbd>+<kbd>Tab</kbd> in Settings > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Keyboard & Text input > Move focus to next window
    – nacho4d
    Oct 6, 2011 at 4:58
  • This doesn't do anything at all in Google Chrome for me.
    – Ixrec
    Jul 9, 2016 at 12:55

Depends on the application but most of them support:

  • Command + Shift + [

  • Command + Shift + ]

for switching between tabs.

  • this, but no Shift for me.
    – user1190
    Feb 12, 2013 at 17:15
  • Without shift it goes back and forward in a browser.
    – mmx
    Feb 17, 2013 at 21:30

There is a piece of shareware called Witch that emulates Windows alt+tab. It shows all windows in all applications, sorted by application. It costs €9.95.

  • Also Optimal Layout which is in the App Store
    – mmmmmm
    Jun 28, 2011 at 21:22

It depends on your settings. Default settings depend on your locale.

See System Preferences -> Keyboard and Mouse -> Keyboard Shortcuts to see what the keys are on your system for e.g. "Move focus to next window in active application"


Thought I'll consolidate the various responses for this:

  1. To switch focus between windows in the current application, use CMD + ` combination (like multiple ppt files opened)
  2. To switch between applications use CMD + TAB combination
  3. To switch between tabs within an application (like Chrome), use CMD + Shift + [ (OR) CMD + Shift + ]

Use CMD + `. It switches focus between windows in the current application. To switch between applications use CMD + TAB.

Not quite the same as Windows' switching between all active windows, but close enough once you get used to the distinction.


Alt+ Shift + Tab For putting in tabs in table boxes to avoid jumping to the next column.

  • 2
    What do you mean "table boxes"?
    – Burgi
    May 1, 2016 at 1:50

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