Under XP (and earlier) the windows list in the alt-tab display was fairly simple (ignoring small complications caused by always-on-top windows and some items that didn't appear at all): the windows were ordered by Z-order, which essentially meant most recent first and explicitly minimised windows at the bottom.

Under Vista this is not the case.The first six are in that order, then the desktop appears, and the remaining windows are grouped by app exe and order by window caption. I find the arrangement unhelpful.

I have found reference to this in a number of places, including Wikipedia, but I have not found anyway to revert the behaviour back to just simply ordering the windows by Z-order/recent-use. Is there a way to control this behaviour, or am I stuck with the mild annoyance?

1 Answer 1


Use regedit to go to \HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer.

Create a DWORD called "AltTabSettings" and set it to 1.
This will get you back your beloved classic (and super zippy) Windows XP Alt-Tab.

  • Works perfectly. Thank god. This was driving me crazy.
    – Pekka
    Dec 1, 2009 at 0:28

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