I have customized my alt-tab screen with the following:


It works great: the thumbnail becomes 256 pixel wide and the icon at the corner of the thumbnail becomes 64x64 pixels. However, Windows doesn't load the high-res icons from the programs; instead, it uses the 16x16 pixel icon and scaled it up by nearest-neighbor. I'm sure the programs has high-res icons because I saw them with in "Extra Large Icon" view in Explorer.

So the question is: How can I force Windows to load the high-res icons for the alt-tab thumbnail preview? (Perhaps a registry key, or a .dll hack/injection?)

  • To clarify: the thumbnail is good; my problem concerns the icon overlaid at the corner of the thumbnail. – netvope Jan 18 '10 at 2:51

I'm adding another answer, since according to what you say, Vista's Alt-Tab isn't smart enough to use the 256x256 icons, even if there's room for them in the display.

You might consider using, as an alternative to Vista's Alt-Tab, the free product Switcher. With it you can view your actual windows in three ways: dock, grid, and tile.

See a description of it in the following article :
A Better Alt-Tab Replacement Tool for Windows

Below is the grid-mode display:


  • Why so? Software is software. – 0fnt Jun 19 '10 at 5:36
  • And free is free as in beer. – harrymc Jun 19 '10 at 7:43

I don't know, but if you want a better app-switcher on Vista/7, try pressing Win-Tab. It shows the full window.


You might not have changed all the required settings.

From How to make Vista Taskbar Previews and ALT-TAB Thumbnails Bigger:

Save this to a .reg file and run as Administrator:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AltTab]

I've also tightened up the borders and margins a bit, to make room for larger thumbnails. However, before importing this into your registry you must edit the MaxThumbSizePx to a size that works on your monitor first! The current value, above, is DC hex or 220 decimal, which works on my 1600 x 1200 primary monitor. The maximum row size is 7, so each row is 7 x 220 = 1540, right under the 1600 width.

  • I actually started off with all these keys, but I find most of them unnecessary (e.g. I don't want to tweak the margins), so I removed them. – netvope Jan 18 '10 at 2:49
  • I haven't tried it, but the above combination is said to work. You might try it and see. You can export your current values to keep while experimenting. – harrymc Jan 18 '10 at 7:01
  • They do work, but they don't address my question. – netvope Mar 8 '10 at 2:39
  • @netvope: What do you mean? – harrymc Mar 8 '10 at 6:50
  • My question is "How can I force Windows to load the HIGH-RES icons for the alt-tab thumbnail preview?". I have also clarified that "My problem concerns the ICON overlaid at the CORNER of the thumbnail". I have no problems making the thumbnails and the icons big with the registry entries. But LOW-RES icons look terrible when they are big. I want HIGH-RES icons so that they look good when they are big. Please read the question carefully. – netvope Mar 8 '10 at 21:23

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