Step Up to Awesome Alt-Tab Application Switching

Last Updated Oct 19, 2009 11:14 PM EDT

Microsoft has long known that what you see when you press Alt-Tab to switch programs is really weak - the icons are small and it's hard to tell what's going on. That's why Vista gave us Flip3D and Windows 7 brings a smarter taskbar. They're all attempts to improve application switching and wean us away from Alt-Tabbing.

Even with the awesome Windows 7 taskbar, though, I still Alt-Tab a lot. I can't help it; it's burned into my muscle memory. So what I really need is an improved Alt-Tab. And here it is.



The poorly named VistaSwitcher amps up Alt-Tab with an enormous preview of each open app and a mouse-enabled list of running programs. After you Alt-Tab and the preview appears, you can continue to Alt-Tab your way through the list of running programs - just like usual - or hover you mouse over the list of apps to see each preview in turn.

The program's preferences are nothing short of comprehensive. You can control the size and position of the Alt-Tab window, specify which monitor it open on (if you have more than one), and create a list of programs to always exclude from the application list. And there's a surprising set of keyboard shortcuts you can use as well - press E, for example, to open the program's application folder. This program goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping you manage your running apps better.

I still like Switcher, and it remains a great alternative to Alt Tab as well. Do you have a favorite way to manage your apps in Windows? Sound off in the comments below.