One fast option to switch between all open windows and programs on Windows is the keyboard shortcut Alt-Tab which lets you switch quickly through all. Only an icon is displayed here though which may make it difficult to identify certain programs or windows.Microsoft created a free program called Alt Tab Replacement as part of Microsoft's Powertoys which displays additional information about all tabs that are open.
The left image displays the way the Alt Tab Replacement handles this process. A small window pops up whenever you press ALT + TAB that displays the information that are shown in the window of the program that is currently selected by Alt-Tab.
A preview image of the current active tab will be displayed if it has not been minimized in the taskbar. Switching through the open windows displays a screenshot of the current window so that you can better identify its contents and know what you will open when you release the keyboard shortcut.
If the window has been minimized only the information in the taskbar are displayed. Programs that reside in the system tray are not shown at all. But those are not shown as well when you use the native Alt-Tab feature of Windows XP.
Update: Microsoft has changed the default behavior in newer versions of the Windows operating system. A preview of the currently selected program is displayed by default, and while you can change that setting again so that only icons are displayed on Windows Vista and newer versions of Windows, most users should see the preview images right away when they use Alt-Tab to flip through the open programs on their system.
To modify the behavior you need to edit the Windows Registry. Use Windows-r to bring up the run box, type regedit in it and tap on the enter key. Go to the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer and change the AltTabSettings parameter from 0 to 1. Setting it to 1 will switch from window preview mode to icons only.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.