Switcher: A Better Alt-Tab Replacement For Windows

While working with multiple programs and open Windows, sometimes you may feel lost. The folders stack together in groups and the windows lay over each other, making it difficult to switch to a desired window quickly. We have earlier covered Outtasight – a free utility for Windows which can hide running programs and applications instantly using a keyboard shortcut.

But in some situations, you would not want to hide the program window but to gain access to them quickly. Windows provides an “Alt + Tab” feature which lets you switch between opened windows using the Alt and Tab key. Here is how the screen goes after you hit the key combination:

Default Alt Tab shortcut for Switching program windows

You can switch between the programs using the “Tab” key and once the desired program window is selected, just release the Tab key and the window appears in the screen. This property serves well but if you want something full featured and want more control over the program windows, try Switcher. It’s a free Windows Alt Tab utility which makes switching between windows an easy job. Switcher works in Windows Vista and Windows7 with the “Aero” style enabled.

Use Switcher to Customize the Appearance of Open Windows

Assigning Shortcuts:

Before using the program to it’s fullest potential, let’s first open the application settings and customize the keyboard and mouse shortcuts.

Set Keyboard and Mouse shortcuts in Switcher

Run the program and go to “Shortcuts”. Next, assign your preferred keyboard and mouse shortcut. I would prefer using the mouse shortcut over the keyboard as it’s quick and you don’t have to remember anything or press any button to instantly switch Windows. Just move the mouse cursor to the left top area of the screen edge and the program will freeze the desktop and ask you which Window you want to switch to.

Here is a view of my desktop after using Switcher:

Switch between opened windows using Switcher

If you want to abort the Window Switching process, press “Esc” and the program will return you to the last window you were on.

Show the desktop

If you want to show the desktop in the window selection choice, go to “Application settings > Appearance ” and choose “Show the desktop as a Window”.

Show desktop with Switched Windows

Now when you move the mouse cursor on the top left of your desktop screen you will see an option to see the desktop as shown below

Show Desktop option while Switching Windows

Using Different views and the Search Box

You can use the shortcut keys F2 and F3 to see the Dock and grid views respectively. This helps a lot, especially when you have a number of open windows of the same type. For example: You are working on 4-5 word documents and you can then use the grid view to decide on which document you want to switch to.

To search for a particular Window Title, move the cursor to the left top of the desktop edge and activate Switcher. Once activated, just begin typing the probable title of the program window (e.g Firefox or Microsoft) and Switcher will choose the closest match and switch to that window automatically.

Other features includes, filtering specific windows and excluding them from the program options. You can start the program automatically on Windows startup and let Switcher remember your settings across Windows sessions. MAC users can try Witch – a similar alt tab replacement program.

Do you use any software for switching between open windows? Please share your ideas in the comments section.

Soumen Halder

Soumen is the founder/author for Ampercent, a tech blog that writes on computer tricks, free online tools & software guides.

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