How do I toggle back to the last tab used in Chrome on Mac? Ctrl-Tab and Ctrl-Shift-Tab navigates the tabs in order. But I want to switch back and forth between two tabs similar to how how Cmd-Tab switches between the last two apps. There's a way to do this on Firefox but is there a solution for Chrome?

  • 6
    Also consider using either Opera or Vivaldi which are both chromium-based browsers that support last used tab via ctrl-tab – User Jun 25 '16 at 12:36
  • Would you consider accepting superuser.com/a/1115469/170305 which is a direct solution that is current (didn't work when you posted the question)? Alternately bounty it... – djechlin Feb 13 '17 at 15:48
  • Click Ctrl + Tab – Connor Leech Mar 1 at 20:38
  • @djechlin: See my comment on your answer. – SabreWolfy Aug 9 at 9:50

18 Answers 18

up vote 57 down vote accepted

Chrome has no native keyboard shortcut for this, but there's an extension you can use:

Recent Tabs (Chrome Web Store)

Features

  • You can specify any keyboard shortcut you like (default: Ctrl + Q).

  • You can configure it to

    • show a list of the most recent tabs (much like Alt + Tab).

    • toggle between the last 2 tabs.

    whenever you press the keyboard shortcut.

Screenshot screenshot

  • 17
    Any way this can override Ctrl+Tab? – Joe Aug 20 '12 at 1:50
  • 11
    Just using an extension, no. The extensions web store page says You may ask why didn't I use Ctrl+Tab instead, that's cause Chrome does now allow extensions to map this shortcut key. If you insist in this shortcut, you could assign a different key to it and do a remapping with AutoHotkey. – Dennis Aug 20 '12 at 2:04
  • 13
    Thanks. +1 for AutoHotKey. Shame Chrome has us jumping through hoops for such basic functionality. – Joe Aug 20 '12 at 12:18
  • 6
    You can bind to Ctrl+Tab by manually editing the Preferences file. Instructions here: superuser.com/questions/104917/chrome-tab-ordering/… – GDorn Oct 27 '16 at 2:05
  • I could not get this extension to work. Take a look at Harshay Buradkar's answer below -- their extension worked for me: chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/clut-cycle-last-used-tabs/… – Hawkeye Parker Nov 25 at 19:59

I really wanted this feature myself, I have tried most existing extensions already available but none of them worked properly.

I went ahead and tried my hand at developing one myself and it seems to be working for me. Figured it might help others too.

Here is the link: CLUT: Cycle Last Used Tabs

Keys can be changed in keyboard shortcut settings on the Chrome extensions page. The project is now open source on GitHub too

  • 3
    I don't know how you did it better than everyone else, but I want to give you major props here and hope the whole world finds out about this extension. For many people, this is literally a dealbreaker that prevents them from switching to Chrome. – Neil Traft Apr 19 '17 at 1:03
  • 1
    Also, for people who want to map this to Ctrl+Tab, the Ctrl+Tab MRU plugin page has instructions for manually editing your preferences file (you don't need to install that plugin, you just need to follow their instructions). It really works! – Neil Traft Apr 19 '17 at 1:06
  • 5
    be aware that this extension tracks your usage with Google Analytics github.com/harshayburadkar/clut-chrome-extension/blob/… – mark Apr 28 '17 at 18:48
  • 4
    @BorislavIvanov Its usual Google Analytics which every website anyways already uses. It is to see how many people actually use the extension as opposed to install to try out but don't remove the extension even if it they don't like it. It is anonymous tracking and it just shows for e.g. 3000 users used it in the last week and so on. None of any private data is tracked. I added it to see how much is people's interest towards the extension and to decide if I should invest in improving the extension further. Mark's comment is just creating a little unnecessary scare. – Harshay Buradkar Jul 26 '17 at 7:38
  • 1
    @devuxer Agreed, I find the same on all platforms: Linux, Mac. I have gotten into the habit of editing the Preferences file before every single time I start Chrome, since I'm so addicted to the functionality. This works okay for me since luckily I only restart Chrome once every couple weeks at most. – Neil Traft Dec 11 at 16:58

Recent Tabs has a serious problem of interfering with keyboard events handling. It slows down the whole browser key handling. For example, after enabling the extension, go visit http://fullscreenmario.com and try to control Mario with keyboards. FPS goes rapidly down to 5 or 6.

Not a problem, but a limitation with the extension is it can't move between chrome://* pages or blank page.

There is a working alternative : Toggle Switch Recent Last Tabs. It doesn't slow down the browser. It can switch between any pages.

  • Imho not any, but only between two. But it has useful option(only one option :) ) - go to recent on close. So it is very useful – Gennady G Nov 5 '15 at 16:36
  • 1
    The link is dead – User Dec 19 '16 at 4:18

I finally found a REAL Ctrl-Tab solution and not just an "use an alternative keyboard shortcut"-solution!

  1. Install this extension: CLUT: Cycle Last Used Tabs
  2. Then go to the chrome extensions (chrome://extensions) and scroll down to the Keyboard shortcuts
  3. Enter a keyboard shortcut, e.g. Ctrl+A for "Quick switch"
  4. Close Chrome completely
  5. Open the Chrome preferences file:
    • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/Preferences
    • Windows: C:\Users\YOUR_USERNAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Preferences
    • Ubuntu: ~/.config/chromium/Default/Preferences
  6. Search for the previously set keyboard shortcut inside the file, e.g. Ctrl+A and replace it with Ctrl+Tab.
  7. Save and close the file
  8. Reopen Chrome and be finally a happy Chrome user!
  • This doesn't work for me on the latest version. Whenever I close Chrome and change Ctrl+A to Ctrl+Tab, and restart Chrome, the browser changes it back to Ctrl+A. – Sheen Jan 8 at 9:58
  • Are you sure, that Chrome is completely closed when you edit the preferences file? – mchief90 Jan 8 at 9:59
  • Also doesn't work for me... – DarkCowboy Jan 15 at 13:38
  • For which OS is it not working? – mchief90 Jan 15 at 19:46
  • @mchief90 Windows 10, not working. – Sheen Feb 22 at 16:12

  Chrome on Windows (at least version 30) allows to use a Ctrl+Tab keyboard shortcut for the extensions, and some extensions do use this functionality.
  The following might work on Mac as well:

  1. Install an extension which switches to last viewed tab, like FLST Chrome (remembers only one tab into the past) or Ctrl+Tab MRU (requires a bit longer Ctrl+Tab press).
  2. Go to chrome://extensions page, click on 'Keyboard shortcuts' link at the very bottom and set Ctrl+Tab as keyboard shortcut for the extension you installed in step 1
  • Ctrl+Tab MRU is the closest option to what I'm used to in Opera and FF – KalenGi Oct 11 '14 at 8:09
  • 2
    How does Chrome support Ctrl+Tab? Whenever I try to set that as a shortcut for an extension in the extension tab, Chrome switches to the next tab. From the Ctrl-Tab MRU-Extension: It seems that CHROME HAS DISABLED the possibility to use Ctrl+Tab as a shortcut :-( I'll be looking into this and if we get a workaround for this – flu Oct 17 '14 at 9:57

Here is the AutoHotKey script to remap the Ctrl+Tab shortcut with CLUT (from Harshay answer) only with Chrome:

; Chrome context
#IfWinActive ahk_class Chrome_WidgetWin_1
^Tab::Send !{w}
+^Tab::Send !{s}

; Back to global context
#IfWinActive

It does not emulate exactly the real Ctrl+Tab behavior: Ctrl+Tab will switch only between the two last tabs, and Ctrl+Shift+Tab will switch through the whole history.

I've found these to work for me:

  • Command + 1-8 will select the tab at that position,
  • Command + 9 will select the last tab.

If you are like me and have more than 9 tabs open, you are left with cycling through tabs with:

  • Command + { to navigate to the left tab and
  • Command + } to switch to the right
  • Command + 9 select the last (right-most) tab. The question is about selecting the last used (most recently-used tab), not the last tab on the right of the tab-bar. – SabreWolfy Aug 9 at 9:50

Vimium is really cool. i.e. ^ (Shift + 6) to switch to previous tab https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/vimium/dbepggeogbaibhgnhhndojpepiihcmeb?hl=en

  • Pity it doesn't switch between the previous and current tab, so that you can use it to go back to the previous tab and then return to your current tab. – SabreWolfy Aug 9 at 9:53

Ctrl + 1 takes you to tab 1

Ctrl + 2 takes you to tab 2 etc..

Pretty handy if you're opening multiple links from a page that doesn't support middle clicking or right click menus.

  • 4
    That's nice, but doesn't answer the question of how to switch to the last-used tab. If you know, please edit your answer with the "edit" link. – Ben N Jan 8 '16 at 14:48

I built this Chrome extension to do just that; Toggle between the last two active tabs using a global hotkey. This means you don't need Chrome to be focused to toggle.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/toggletab/iblgdmlpmokbijhiebnffnffablkkedk

If you need to specifically work with 2 tabs, you can drag the tab out to create a new Chrome window.

Then you can ALT Tab on Windows and Cmd ⌘ ` on a Mac.

If you have a full size keyboard, you can use CTRL+PgUp (go to prev tab) and CTRL+PgDn (go to next tab). It is not the same but close enough for me.

The tricky solution to achieve this on Windows is to combine Quick Tabs chrome extensions and AutoHotkey script. I've described it in details here, so here is in a nutshell:

1) Quick Tabs is an open-source, customizable extension, that allows you redefine some CSS styles and allows to setup hotkey for switching MRU tabs. Also it supports keyboard navigation (move to next/previous tab). However chrome doesn't let you bind Ctrl+Tab as a keyboard shortcut, so you need to register another one (for example Ctrl+Shift+S) and then use AutoHotkey script to "remap" Ctrl+Tab for chrome into Ctrl+Shift+S.

2) I won't put here the AutoHotkey script, you can find it here. It covers Ctrl+Tab remapping and handle all the keyboard navigation.

As a result you will see something like that when press Ctrl+Tab in active chrome window:

Arrows navigation, Esc, both Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab are working the way you expected.

  • That's some serious AHK wizardry! You may want to check out my QuicKey extension: fwextensions.github.io/QuicKey It looks much like your styling of Quick Tabs without any custom CSS. And by slightly modifying your AHK script, I was able to get ctrl-tab working nicely with it: gist.github.com/fwextensions/511e0f6886eac3d07cf7a21fbb10a6c7 Quickly pressing ctrl-tab to toggle between tabs seems much faster and more reliable than when I was testing with Quick Tabs. – jdunning Jun 9 at 22:26
  • It's not that complicated, press ctrl-e to open the quicktab list and press enter to go to that last one which is the one that is selected by default, want the one before, just press down. Also, no need to keep holding down two keys to navigate bacwards – Juan Mendes Sep 27 at 13:11

Update: Building on Shad's clever approach using AutoHotkey, here's how to enable ctrltab to open the QuicKey recent tabs menu, navigate within it by pressing ctrltab again to select a tab, and then releasing ctrl to switch to that tab (Windows only):

  • Install QuicKey from the Chrome webstore.
  • Download and install AutoHotkey.
  • Open your PC's startup folder by following these instructions.
  • Go to this GitHub page and click Download ZIP.
  • Unzip the archive and drag the ctrl-tab.ahk file from the ZIP into your startup folder.
  • Double-click the ctrl-tab.ahk file.

Now switch between a few different tabs in Chrome using the mouse (since QuicKey was just installed, it doesn't have any recent tab history). Then press and release ctrltab to switch to the previous tab. If you press ctrltab and keep holding ctrl, a menu of recent tabs will open. Press tab to select the next tab in the list. When the desired one is selected, release ctrl to switch to it.

The other shortcuts listed below continue to work, so you can press altQ to open QuicKey and search for a tab.


QuicKey (Chrome webstore) is another extension that provides this missing feature. It also offers a menu that's somewhat similar to the most recently used (MRU) menu you get in Firefox after pressing ctrltab and then releasing tab while holding down ctrl, which makes it easy to select any recent tab from the list.

  • To switch to the most recently used tab:
    • Press ctrlA (altA on Windows).
  • To switch to the next most recently used tab:
    • Press ctrlA again within 750ms. Press it repeatedly to navigate further back in history.
    • Press ctrlS to navigate in the opposite direction.
  • To pick a tab from the menu using just the keyboard:
    • Press ctrlQ but keep holding the ctrl key (alt key on Windows).
    • Press W to move down through the list of recent tabs.
    • Press shiftW to move up.
    • Release ctrl to switch to the selected tab.

The above keyboard shortcuts can be changed in chrome://extensions/shortcuts.

I like to toggle between two tabs when filling out forms or comparing pages, etc. As a work around to there being no hot hey for the last used tab, I drag the two tabs into their own window and use the Command+Option+right arrow to go back and forth quickly.

Note I'm using Windows. This lack of ctrl+tab for "last used tab" support is why I still favor Firefox over Chrome. It is integral to my browser usage. This is what I realized today:

  1. Opera has ctrl tab for last used tab. (To enable go to opera://flags/ and change the 'Tab cycling' option)

  2. Opera uses webkit and the Blink rendering and V8 javascript engines (which at the time of this writing are the same that chrome uses). So it seems like, for my purposes, it is chrome.

I installed Opera for the first time ever today and am going to give it a go for replacing chrome.

  • Install quick tabs

  • Press ctrl+e (or +e)

    • A list of tabs shows up, that last one is already focused
  • Hit enter

If you want to go through your history, press the down arrow once to the to the tab used before the last one.

I know there's an answer using quick tabs already but it requires too much just to do it using ctrl-tab. I'd rather keep that functionality, plus, I often want to search my tabs, which is what the plugin is really designed for.

For me Ctrl+1 switches between two most recent tabs.

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