[Tip] Get Windows XP Style Classic “Alt+Tab” Switcher Screen in Windows Vista and Later

"Alt+Tab" is one of the most frequently used keyboard shortcut (hotkey) in Windows OS. Whenever you want to switch to another running program, you just need to press "Alt+Tab" keys together and Windows shows you a list of all running programs with live thumbnails and window titles. You can select your desired program using "Tab" key or using your mouse cursor and it'll immediately switch to that program.

This "Alt+Tab" switcher screen can be found in almost all Windows versions and Microsoft keeps improving its functionality in each new version of Windows. In Windows XP and earlier Windows versions, Alt+Tab screen was very basic and simple. It just used to show program icons and names in the list. If we talk about newer Windows versions such as Windows Vista or later, we get a new improved Alt+Tab screen which shows running application names along with their live thumbnails so that we can see the window content before switching to them. If we talk about Windows 8 "Alt+Tab" switcher screen, its quite similar to Windows 7. You'll not find any noticeable UI change in the screen.

The "Alt+Tab" switcher screen also shows "Desktop" in the list so that you can directly access Desktop icons without minimizing all running applications manually.


Its good and very handy but some people who are using Windows Vista or later Windows versions, might find it annoying as it takes some time to show the switcher screen and selecting the running application. If you also find it annoying or boring and want to bring back the good old Windows XP style Classic "Alt+Tab" Switcher screen in Windows Vista and later, this tutorial will help you.

After following this tutorial, you'll be able to get Windows XP style classic Alt+Tab box in Windows Vista, Windows 7 and later Windows versions as shown in following image:


Just follow these simple steps:

1. Type regedit in RUN or Start search box and press Enter. It'll open Registry Editor.

2. Now go to following key:


3. In right-side pane, create a new DWORD AltTabSettings and set its value to 1


4. That's it. Log off or restart Explorer as mentioned here to apply changes.

Now whenever you'll press "Alt+Tab" keys together, it'll show Windows XP style classic "Alt+Tab" Switcher screen instead of the new screen.

5. To restore new "Alt+Tab" Switcher screen, simply delete the AltTabSettings DWORD created in step 3. Log off and login again to take effect.

NOTE. If you want a ready-made registry script to do the task automatically, download following ZIP file, extract it and run the extracted REG file:

Download Registry Script

BONUS TIP: If you don't want to set the Classic "Alt+Tab" Switcher screen permanent but want to enjoy it temporarily, then you can follow these simple steps:

  • Press and hold Left or Right Alt key.
  • Now press and release the other Alt key on your keyboard but keep pressing the first Alt key.
  • Now press Tab key and you'll get the Windows XP styled Classic "Alt+Tab" Switcher screen.

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Posted in: Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1, Windows Vista

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