Note: I'm using Windows 7 with the classical alt-tab style, ie the registry key AltTabSettings set to 1.

I want to use MRU (most recently used) ordering of windows in the alt-tab list. However, because the windows are ordered in the Z order of the windows rather than actual MRU, this sometimes gives a different order after switching from an always-on-top application.

Example: I have applications A, B and C open. A is set to always-on-top while the others aren't. A is focused. I now press alt-tab and application B is focused. I now press alt-tab but instead of application A receiving focus, application C does. Since A has a higher Z order, it's now left of application B, despite being the most recently used, and application C is placed right of B and is the one first getting focus by the cursor. To switch to application A, I need to press shift+alt-tab or cycle through all the other open windows. This is annoying when flicking focus back and forth between an always-on-top application and one that isn't always-on-top.

Is there a way to make the alt-tab ordering strictly MRU?

1 Answer 1


In the past, I have spent quite a time attempting to make that task switcher behave differently than it does, but behavior of this thing seems to be pretty hard-coded and I got nowhere. They kept the legacy switcher, but with newer Windows versions, it seems to be more and more broken (untested by developers). Off-topic: try it in Windows 8... You get strange effects with presence of Modern UI windows.

The only modifiable thing which works relatively well is the number of rows and columns in the grid.

There might be possible solution using 3rd-party task switchers, but it was of too low importance for me to install and check them. (I checked one.) However, it is possible that one of them has the feature you describe.

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