Is there a hotkey to cycle through open windows in the order that they appear on the taskbar. This should switch windows without additional keypresses.

I know of win+T. This shortcut puts focus on the first taskbar icon and allows you to select and display a window with up/down/enter. I would ideally like something like Ctrl+Win+Down to immediately switch to the next window.

If not, then is there any way to enable this behaviour on a completely locked down PC where I cannot install software, run executables or edit the registry?

  • I don't have W7 in front of me, but does ALT-TAB not do it?
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 14:07
  • When I say in taskbar order I the order in which they appear on the taskbar. Alt+TAB goes in last active order. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 14:09
  • > I know of win+R. This shortcut puts focus on the first taskbar icon Huh? o.O Actually it opens the Run dialog. Do you mean Win+T?
    – Synetech
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 14:22
  • Try AutoHotKey to bind "CtrlWinDown" to "WinT Down Enter". Not familiar with it, hope it is possible.
    – Maximus
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 17:40
  • @Maximus That would always go to window 2. I'm sure there is an AHK solution but I'd need this on my work computer which is completely locked down, otherwise I'd never get used to it :/ Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 22:18

7 Answers 7


For Win7, the tool 7+ Taskbar Tweaker can now do this. See the help file under section Advanced>Keyboard Shortcuts. It lets you assign any keyboard shortcut keys to actions 101 and 102:

101 - Switch to the window which is located on the left to the active window on the taskbar. 
102 - Switch to the window which is located on the right to the active window on the taskbar. 
  • Does this app work in W10?
    – William
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 21:57
  • @William if you donate for the beta version, yes Commented May 22, 2020 at 23:23

Another option is pressing Win + number will switch to the icon in that numbered slot. It can also start the application if it's not open.

So for this task bar:

Task Bar

Win: Start menu
Win+1: Start or switch to Internet Explorer.
Win+2: Start or switch to Windows Explorer. Press repeatedly to select a window.
Win+3: Start or switch to Windows Media Player.
Win+4: Start or switch to Calculator.
Win+5: Start or switch to Notepad.
Win+6: Start or switch to that application I don't recognise.

  • 1
    Didn't know that one. Thanks for sharing :)
    – Gene
    Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 8:36
  • This wont work, if you have a shortcut attached to the taskbar. In that case, it will open another instance of the program attached to the shortcut even thought the program may already be open, everytime you press that Win + number combination
    – alpha_989
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 14:44
  • is there something that works reliably for shortcuts attached to the taskbar?
    – alpha_989
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 14:44
  • @alpha_989, please ask a new question linked to this one that properly explains your problem. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 22:45
  • You can hold shift to go backwards if you release the number and keep pressing the number.
    – William
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 3:40

AutoHotkey Script: TaskbarNavigation - Ordered left / right Cycle through Task Bar (Alt-Tab replacement)

BACKGROUND (MRU vs Cycling): Windows Alt+Tab operates off of MRU (Most Recently Used). Unfortunately this is quasi non-determinstic - if you don't have perfect memory of the current z-order of your windows - you don't know which buttons to push and how many times to push them in order to reach a particular window. Therefore you have to go into a keypress-->observation-->keypress-->observation cycle that might involve many iterations -- rather than just one iteration of observation-->keypress. The goal of this script is to allow you to look at the taskbar - choose the window you want to end up on - and be able to push some keys in one go with the knowing that you will get where you wanted to go at the end of those keypresses and won't need to check again to see where you now are.

  • Thanks, Robert. That looks like it would be a good solution on an environment where you can install AutoHotkey. Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 10:08
  • @TheQuickBrownFox - AutoHotkey scripts compile to EXE. You don't need to have it installed. The original link now also includes a link to download a compiled EXE. Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 13:57
  • OK, but I can't run any unapproved executables on my work PC either. I mentioned this in the question :) Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 15:03

Just press Win+T repeatedly. Shift+Win+T will move in the reverse direction.

  • 1
    Problem with that is it starts from window 1. I want to move from my current position as it's much more intuitive. Moving from 6 to 5 should be quick. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 22:14

A simple method is to use ALT+TAB. This keyboard shortcut has been around forever and lets you switch between all of your active windows and the desktop without using Aero.

  • 1
    That doesn't answer the question. Critically, I want taskbar order, not "most recently used" order. Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 10:09

Regardless of not being able to install software, you can use 7+ Taskbar Tweaker.

Here is some good explanations to @Robert Collier's answer. I prefered to use Alt + (Shift +) Q and here explained why.


If you have flip mode enabled, then you can open Flip 3D by pressing CTRL+Windows logo key.

You can then press TAB to cycle through the windows.

You can also press RIGHT ARROW or DOWN ARROW to cycle forward one window, or press LEFT ARROW or UP ARROW to cycle backward one window. Press ESC to close Flip 3D.


Or ALT-ESC may work (hold down alt and then press escape)

Or Windows Key and tab


Please try Alt+Esc/Alt+Shift+Esc

This will cycle through programs on taskbar in the order they were opened or accessed.

  • 2
    That cycles in last active order, not in taskbar order. Not what I want. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 14:12
  • Your new suggestions also go in last active order. I appreciate your attempts to help but please test your suggestions first if possible. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 14:23
  • Why do you want to cycle through? Again, I don't have W7 infront of me, but pressing the win + number will open it in the order it is in. EG, windows key + 1 will open what ever is beside the Windows Icon (start button). I know this isn't an answer but maybe a work around
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 14:25
  • 2
    I want to move between windows as they are displayed to me. I have always thought this is the most logical way to do it as it respects my spatial sense of the position of these windows on my screen. It would let me switch to the window I want faster. At the moment I always use Alt+TAB, but it's awkward because I have to look at each item to check if it's the one I want. Alt+TAB is great for switching between 2 or 3 recent windows but I can't remember the last active order beyond that. I've been hoping for such a feature for years... :( Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 14:31
  • 1
    The Win+number method requires me to count taskbar item groups, so it's probably slower than just reverting to the mouse. (Sorry, I didn't make the connection that you were the same person that left the comment saying you didn't have W7 in front of you) Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 14:41

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