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Disable or delay alt-tab Aero Peek effect in Windows 7

I'm running Win7 on a laptop without aero and I much prefer the traditional Alt+Tab switcher where you just see the program icons and the Window title. The thumbnails in Vista / 7 are quite useless and look horrible - can I turn them off?

  • 2
    It surprises me that no one was able to answer such a simple question
    – jpbochi
    Nov 18, 2009 at 19:59
  • Are you sure you're not running Aero? I don't see any thumbnails when I switch Aero off...
    – djeidot
    Dec 3, 2009 at 15:56
  • No, this is not a duplicate. The other question is about aero peek effect, while this one is about thumbnails -- completely different things. Nov 7, 2020 at 23:54
  • Also check this: superuser.com/a/1723457/945105
    – aderchox
    May 28, 2022 at 11:27

9 Answers 9


ALT + (tap the other ALT key) + TAB gives you the 'classic' preview, at least when using Aero.

To make it the default, check out barbudo's comment here.

  • that does work!
    – djeidot
    Dec 3, 2009 at 15:51
  • 1
    This is great. I like the old alt+tab (icons are iconic says obvious man obviously) and I love the win+tab (which has mouse support to select the right page), but the new alt+tab was less than optimal.
    – horatio
    Mar 1, 2011 at 21:20
  • An excellent solution! But if you have changed your font sizes and/or icon sizes, you'll see that the selection rectangle will be a bit off. However, the functionality is perfect.
    – SMBiggs
    Dec 28, 2012 at 18:36
  • barbudo link is broken. Did not know about ALT + other-ALT-pressed-one + TAB trick. This is exactly what I want. Dec 3, 2016 at 13:19
  • 2
    The other answer superuser.com/a/78314/191663 contains a working method. I guess that was how the broken linked described it? Also note, that this still works as of 2018-09-13 in Windows 10.
    – kdb
    Sep 13, 2018 at 14:34

Trick found on http://www.mattbrindley.com/developing/windows/windows-vista-win-tab-alt-tab:

Create a DWORD called "AltTabSettings" in \HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer and set it to 1. This will get you back your beloved classic (and super zippy) Windows XP AltTab.

  • 2
    After that, you need to restart the computer or maybe the session. In my case killing explorer.exe and starting it again via Task Manager did the trick. Nov 7, 2020 at 23:52

Try this:

  1. Go to Control Panel > Performance Information and Tools;

  2. Click on Adjust visual effects;

  3. Uncheck Enable Desktop Composition.

It will affect other subtleties in Windows appearance, but I don't know another way to disable these thumbnails.

  • Not running Aero, might as well turn off "Enable desktop composition" Oct 2, 2010 at 1:29

VistaSwitcher is normally meant to improve the ALT-Tab hotkey, adding more features.

However, if you disable most of the "bells'n'whistles", you get a list of open windows and their icons, and nothing else!

alt text

Although it's called VistaSwitcher, it runs perfectly on Windows 7 and it's free!


Maybe you're looking for Switcher ?

Switcher puts you in control of your windows. See all your windows on one screen, quickly search through them, even decorate them with your favorite colors and fonts.

It can also do multi-monitor.
You can view your windows in 3 views:

  • Dock view places all windows except the active one to the side
  • Grid view arranges the windows into a grid
  • Tile view shrinks the windows until you can see all of them

Here is an example:


  • Q:Alt-Tab is too much eye candy! A:use Switcher, an exposé clone! :P +1 regardless, it's good software
    – Phoshi
    Nov 13, 2009 at 23:02

What I know is that Ctrl+Tab is only working in several applications to switch between tabs (i.e. Firefox). If you want just see the program icons and the window titles try ALT+Tab; this is working fine for me (running Win7 without Aero here).

  • Gosh, I wrote Ctrl when I meant Alt! I've updated the question.
    – user9529
    Sep 7, 2009 at 14:54
  • OK, in that case my answer doesn't make any sense. Sep 8, 2009 at 6:58

You must really hate Vista's "Flip-3D" feature when you use Win+Tab!

An alternative to Alt+Tab that you could try is Alt+Esc, this cycles between the open Windows by just bringing each one to the front of view, no icon bar, thumbnail bar or anything like that.

There's an MSDN article on how Alt+Esc has maintained such a minimal interface when all the others have been 'jazzed up': Windows Confidential: The Forgotten Hotkey

  • Correction: Alt+Esc actually sends the currently active window to the background (behind all other windows)
    – i-g
    Oct 6, 2011 at 18:25

There are a couple of ways to turn off the thumbnails, but, like the other posters, I don't know one that turns off just that feature.

However, if, like me, what annoys you most is the blinking in the background as W7 tries to be "smart" and let you preview the app, then that is a specific function: it's called "Aero Peek" and you can disable it by selecting "Custom" in "Visual Effects".

For me, disabling Aero Peek, and knowing the "tap right alt" feature for the occasions where the thumbnails confuse me, gives a good experience.


This preview is a function of Windows Aero, and I don't believe it can be turned off without turning off Aero itself.

As far as I know, the only way to turn of Aero is to select a theme from "Basic and High Contrast Themes"

Basic and High Contrast Themes

  • Open Control Panel - under Appearance and Personalization select Change Theme
  • Scroll down and select Windows 7 Basic as the theme

A site that details the process is here: http://webtrickz.com/how-to-switch-to-windows-7-basic-theme-non-aero/

  • Pete already writes he is "running Win7 on a laptop without aero" !
    – Snark
    Nov 18, 2009 at 21:09
  • Ah - thought it said Vista. But he is running Aero. If you change the Windows 7 theme to Windows Basic, the XP-style Alt-Tab switcher comes back. Nov 19, 2009 at 4:50

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