Alt Tab Replacement for Windows XP

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 23, 2007
Updated • May 28, 2013
Windows, Windows XP

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.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. nanx said on March 12, 2007 at 6:06 am

    i mean can not :”>

  2. nanx said on March 12, 2007 at 6:05 am

    wew..i hate this function, since i can switch between excel to excel file

  3. thunder7 said on February 23, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    I Like TaskSwitchXP Pro 2.0 alot better than M$ Alt Tab Replacement. I think it has more features, and does a better job. Just my 2 Cent.

    TaskSwitchXP provides the same functionality as the existing application switching mechanism in Windows

    XP today. In addition to displaying an icon list, however, the application will also show a thumbnail

    preview of the window that will be switched to.

    1. Martin said on February 24, 2007 at 8:53 am

      The main advantages of your program is that it can be used with different localized versions of Windows XP while the Microsoft Powertoys one only works on US-Windows XP versions.

      The effect however seems to be the same.

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