Microsoft changes the user interface with every release of Windows operating system. Though many changes are useful, sometimes people like the old classic style as they are convenient to use. One such change Microsoft brought was to the classic Alt + Tab app switcher which was available for decades. If you do not like the Alt + Tab app switcher in Windows 11 then here is the tutorial for you to bring the old classic Windows XP style app switcher.
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App Switcher in Windows 11
When you press Alt + Tab keys in Windows 11, it opens an app switcher with the following features.
- Shows large thumbnails of all open windows including Microsoft Edge tabs. You can combine all Edge tabs and show it as a single window from Windows Settings app.
- The background shows the current app with dimmed view.
Old Classic App Switcher in Windows XP
If you already forgot the old app switcher view, here is how it was looking. As you see, it shows small handy thumbnails in a pop-up dialog instead of occupying full screen.
Why to Consider Using Classic App Switcher?
The new Windows 11 app switcher can easily annoy users.
- Dimmed backed will disturb your eyes and you do not have any settings to control the opacity.
- Big thumbnails will show the app content, especially on the browser. This can affect your privacy when you have private content on the minimized browser window. For example, using Alt + Tab while on a video conference call will show the webpages you are reading to all users.
- Big thumbnails may have problems with touchscreen interface when you want to switch the app.
Bringing Classic Alt + Tab App Switcher
Unfortunately, there are not default settings available in Windows to bring the old classic app switcher. It is also not possible to remove the background dimming or change the thumbnail size. However, good part is that you can use some tricks to use the classic app switcher in latest Windows versions.
Temporarily Using Classic App Switcher
The first option is to use the classic app switcher temporarily without altering the new interface. In this way, you have an option to alternatively use old and new app switcher interfaces whenever needed.
- First press and hold one of the alt keys on your keyboard. Let us say, you hold the left alt key.
- Now, press the other right alt key and release it.
- Finally, press tab to see the old classic app switcher appears like below.
Permanently Using Classic Alt + Tab App Switcher
The above trick could cause some problems in apps like Microsoft Word. When you press the second alt key, it will highlight the menus though you can see the app switcher when pressing tab key.
If you really like the old app switcher then you can use a registry hack to permanently use old Windows XP style app switcher.
- Press “Win + R” keys to open Run prompt. Type regedit in the text box and click OK to open Registry Editor. Alternatively, you can search and open Registry Editor app.
- When you are in the Registry Editor, navigate to the following path. Best way is to simply copy and paste the path in the Registry Editor’s address bar and press enter. This will automatically take you to that location in the editor.
- Right click on the right pane and select “New > DWORD (32-bit) Value” option.
- This will create a new REG_DWORD and provide the name as AltTabSettings.
- Double click on AltTabSettings or right click on it and select “Modify” option. On the edit DWORD pop-up that appears, change the “Value data:” from 0 to 1. Click “OK” button to save the changes and close the Registry Editor.
- For the registry changes to take effect, you need to sign out or restart your computer. Save all your works and click on the Start icon in the taskbar. Click the power icon and select “Restart” to reboot your computer.
Now, press Alt + Tab and check the old classic app switcher appears instead of the large new interface. Later at some point if you like the new interface, go back to registry editor. Delete the AltTabSettings DWORD that you have created and start using the latest app switcher interface with Alt + Tab shortcut keys.
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