How to Move Between Open Windows with Alt + Tab Switching

Alt+Tab. Switch between open programs with ease.
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Alt-Tab switching is a quick way to move between all open documents in Windows. Using the keyboard to accomplish a task on a computer is usually much more efficient than using a mouse or other pointing device, and Alt-Tab Switching is one of the most used of these keyboard shortcuts.

These instructions apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

Using Alt+Tab: Switch between Open Programs with ease.

You can also use the shortcut Win key + Tab to switch between open windows.

  1. Open at least Windows. These can be programs, files, or browser windows.

  2. Press and hold down the Alt key on the keyboard.

  3. Press and release the Tab key on the keyboard without letting go of the Alt key. The Alt-Tab Fast Switching window should appear in the middle of your computer screen.

    Screenshot of switching window
  4. This window should contain an icon for each document currently open on your computer.

  5. The first icon on the left will be for the current document — the one visible on the screen.

  6. The second icon from the left should be highlighted by a box.

  7. Below the icons should be the name of the document highlighted by the box.

  8. Release the Alt key and Windows will switch you to the highlighted document.

  9. To move to other documents shown in the Alt-Tab Fast Switching window, continue to hold down the Alt while tapping the Tab key. Each tap should move the highlight box left to right from one document to the next.

  10. Release the Alt key when the desired document is highlighted.

  11. Once the Alt + Tab Fast Switching window is open, you can reverse the direction of the highlight box — moving it from right to left — by holding down the Shift key as well as the Alt key and then tapping the Tab key.

Alt-Tab in Reverse

If you’re pressing Alt-Tab and accidentally go past the window you want to select, you don’t have to press the Tab key repeatedly to cycle through all open windows. Use the Alt+Shift+Tab keyboard shortcut to select windows in reverse order.