235

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?

  • 9
    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 '18 at 20:38
  • 1
    This is a known issue that Chrome does not value. I switched to Opera solely for this issue and it's wonderful. Here's the thread on the issue going back to 2009: bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=5569 It's marked as "won't fix". Do you really still want to use Chrome??? – User1 Mar 24 '19 at 0:32
  • 3
    Oh yeah, 23 answers (at the moment) to try to solve a simple task that must be provided by the product out-of-the-box from the day one. Google, WHY..?! – RAM237 Sep 19 '19 at 13:02

23 Answers 23

73

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

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  • 24
    Any way this can override Ctrl+Tab? – Joe Aug 20 '12 at 1:50
  • 13
    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
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    Thanks. +1 for AutoHotKey. Shame Chrome has us jumping through hoops for such basic functionality. – Joe Aug 20 '12 at 12:18
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    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
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    The AutoControl extension for Chrome can redefine native shortcuts like Ctrl+Tab and others. No need for sneaky hacks or manual edits. – GetFree Apr 3 '19 at 2:42
69

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. The project is now open source on GitHub. 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: enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

Or, for older versions of Chrome: enter image description here

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  • 12
    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
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    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
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    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
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    Harshay, could you comment on mark's comment? The tracking code is still present at master... – Borislav Ivanov Jul 25 '17 at 11:02
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    @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
19

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.

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  • 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
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    The link is dead – User Dec 19 '16 at 4:18
  • @User which one,link to alternative is ok at the moment... – Betlista Jan 9 '19 at 12:10
  • Toggle Switch Recent Last Tabs. works well, but seems to not be able to switch tabs across chrome windows. – Siddhartha Jun 14 '19 at 18:30
11

There's finally a Chrome extension that solves this for good.

It's called Tab Thumbnails Switcher.

It supports Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab out of the box for switching between tabs in last used order.

enter image description here

From the extension's page:

A tab switcher menu with thumbnail previews similar to Windows 10 task switcher.

➭ Tabs are in recently used order.

➭ You can use Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab to select the desired tab or choose a different shortcut.

➭ Mouse-only method: Click on the toolbar button and then click on the desired tab.

➭ It doesn't interfere with the web page you are viewing.

➭ The tabs menu pops up instantly for a fast tab switching.

➭ Works offline. No need for an internet connection.

➭ Tab Thumbnails Switcher does not access or collect your personal data.
...

✔ The tab menu is implemented in machine code, which allows it to pop up instantly without annoying loading delays.

✔ It can redefine Ctrl+Tab shortcut for switching between tabs.

✔ It doesn't inject code into every page you visit, thus avoiding sluggish page loads and conserving CPU and memory.

✔ It works on ALL tabs. Either PDF documents, the New Tab Page, extension pages, Chrome pages, you name it.

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  • 2
    the problem is you have to install an exe file in your computer which I can't for security resons – derloopkat May 10 '19 at 9:46
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    @derloopkat, distrust by default should always be the norm. However, in this case the executable comes from the Chrome Web Store. There's no way Google is going to distribute malware. I myself was quite wary so I installed it on a VM and monitored its activity. Only then I came here and posted it. – HrW May 12 '19 at 0:17
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    This seems to be a derivative of another one called AutoControl Shortcut Manager which can do this too. – GetFree Jun 9 '19 at 8:25
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    Here is how to do it without thumbnails: Switch to last used tab in chrome – Tim Oct 25 '19 at 5:31
  • This one doesn't work on macOS, but found a good one that does: tabappswitcher.com – blub Jul 23 at 14:04
11

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 or newer Version: chrome://extensions/shortcuts) 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!
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  • 6
    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 '18 at 9:58
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    Also doesn't work for me... – DarkCowboy Jan 15 '18 at 13:38
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    @mchief90 Windows 10, not working. – Sheen Feb 22 '18 at 16:12
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    @Sheen and @DarkCowboy, here is a simpler way to use ctrl-tab as a shortcut without editing the prefs file: superuser.com/a/1326712/736443 It sidesteps the checking Chrome does to block ctrl-tab, so it's Chrome itself that saves the shortcut to its prefs file. That means it will survive restarts of the app. – jdunning Jun 9 '18 at 22:06
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    This worked for me, but, before closing Chrome, I had to copy all the contents of the Preferences file to clipboard. Had to do this because, somehow, when restoring my windows from the previous session, chrome was replacing the Preferences content with something else. So: copy Preferences content to clipboard, quit chrome, paste back the content from clipboard to Preferences, do the key replacement, save the file and start Chrome. Worked fine for me – Alex Burdusel Jan 9 '19 at 11:05
6

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

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  • 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 '18 at 9:53
6

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.

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  • This works like a charm in Chrome 85! Thanks! – Programmer Dancuk Jun 28 at 12:29
5

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 go back to a previous page
  • Command + } to go forward to a page that you came from (after u click back)
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  • 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 '18 at 9:50
  • This isn't helpful in making chrome act like every other subwindowed application – Lassi Kinnunen Jul 3 '19 at 8:13
  • This is the least intrusive working answer (i.e. no need to install an extension)! For me that want to move back and forth between two tabs, I can order one to the rightmost position and reach it with Ctrl+9 and use for example Ctrl+5 to get the other page that I use. – Dataman Feb 21 at 10:40
3

  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
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  • Ctrl+Tab MRU is the closest option to what I'm used to in Opera and FF – KalenGi Oct 11 '14 at 8:09
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    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
3

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.

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3

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.

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  • 1
    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 '18 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 '18 at 13:11
  • This is the one I used, and on Ubuntu, I didn't have to use AutoHotKey (or maybe that's no longer required anywhere now?) – Wilson F Mar 22 at 23:23
3

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.

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2

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.

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  • 5
    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 have 100500 tabs... – nim May 25 at 18:42
2

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

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2

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.

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2

I created a minimalist Chrome extension called Previous Tab to solve this problem. This extension requires no special permissions.

Press Ctrl+q to switch to the previously active tab, or click the Previous Tab icon.

You may customize the keyboard shortcut by visiting chrome://extensions/configureCommands

Note that Tab is not a supported key for Chrome extension commands.

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  • This works great with the AHK trick mentioned above (something I couldn't get to work with Quick Tabs). To use Ctrl+Tab to toggle between two tabs, just install mark's Previous Tab, set the Keyboard shortcut to Alt+S under chrome://extensions/shortcuts then use an AHK script with the following: #IfWinActive ahk_class Chrome_WidgetWin_1 ^Tab::Send !{s} #IfWinActive – Ryan C. Feb 13 at 4:27
1

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.

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1

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.

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1

Looks like this is standard now on Chrome - when you close a tab, the focus jumps back to the last used tab. Just noticed it this week. Version 73.0.3683.86.

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  • If this question was not 7 years ago, or if you provived with a link to the changelog, this answer might be helpful. But this way, it is not. – davidbaumann Apr 12 '19 at 16:18
1

In contrast to a key combination for switching to the most recently used tab, you may like this very light and intuitive solution for tabs organizing in the most recently used order, which is supported in all major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, other Chrome-based browsers): Tab Slider. Its features are:

  • Works just like Alt+Tab on Windows or Cmd+Tab on Mac, but with browser tabs
  • Visually sorts tabs so you always see them in the MRU order (Ctrl+Tab switches to the next MRU tab)
  • Works with pinned tabs as well
  • Is customizable (however, I would advise sticking with defaults)

Try it! Hope you'll love it.

img

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0
  • 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.

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0

There is official support for this command. Use Ctrl+9.
Please see the this link.

Or am I missing something here?

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  • 1
    The original question meant "last" as in "most recent in time; latest." not, "coming after all others in time or order; final." Ctrl+9 does the latter – mark Apr 16 '19 at 0:58
-1

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

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