Coding Horror

programming and human factors

ALT+TAB Extreme*

When I see people using the default, crappy Windows ALT+TAB task switching behavior, I experience physical pain.

TaskSwitchXP is completely free and so much better. It's super small, totally elegant, lightning fast, and generally a massive improvement in task switching functionality. Friends don't let friends suffer through the default Windows ALT+TAB. If I was forced to run only one Windows enhancement on my machine, this would be my choice.

TaskSwitchXP Pro screenshot

Since this is a static screenshot, I have to explain a few things.

  • you can use your mouse to switch to any active task
  • as you hover over the tasks, the screenshot preview changes.
  • the mousewheel and arrow keys cycle through the tasks

TaskSwitchXP works flawlessly with the default install options, but there are a bunch of advanced tweaks, keyboard shortcuts, and an extensive configuration interface that you might want to explore. I highly recommend reading through the quick start guide.

Note that Windows Vista has two new ALT+TAB behaviors as of this writing, and one of them is a simple set of scrolling screenshots, somewhat similar to what TaskSwitchXP already offers.

* Extreme as in Extreme Ironing. EXTREME!!

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: