How to bring back the old 'Alt + Tab' experience on Windows 10

On Windows 10, when you use the "Alt + Tab" keyboard shortcut, you'll open the task switcher, which is an experience that allows you to view and switch back and forth between the two most recent applications or any other running task, by pressing and holding the "Alt" key and using the "Tab" key to cycle through.

Although the new interface offers big thumbnails with a live preview for every app running on Windows 10, you can still override the system settings to bring back the old task switcher that only included the icon and name of the app by making a change in the Registry.

In this Windows 10 guide, we walk you through the steps to modify the system settings to bring back the old "Alt + Tab" interface, to switch apps as you did in the old days, without fancy graphics or thumbnails.

How to enable old 'Alt + Tab' shortcut using Registry

To enable the legacy Alt + Tab shortcut style on Windows 10, use these steps:

Warning: This is a friendly reminder that editing the Registry is risky, and it can cause irreversible damage to your installation if you don't do it correctly. We recommend making a full backup of your PC before proceeding.

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for regedit and click the top result to open the Registry.
  3. Browse the following path:HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ExplorerQuick tip: On Windows 10, you can now copy and paste the path in the Registry's address bar to quickly jump to the key destination.
  4. Right-click the Explorer (folder) key, select New, and click on DWORD (32-bit) Value.

  1. Name the key AltTabSettings and press Enter.
  2. Double-click the newly created DWORD and set the value from 0 to 1.
  1. Click the OK button.
  2. Restart your computer.

Once you complete these steps, you can use the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut to switch between running applications using the legacy interface.

If you want the modern task switcher back, you can always revert the changes by using the same instructions, but on step No. 8, change the DWORD value from 1 to 0, or delete the AltTabSettings key, and restart your computer.

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Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

1 Comment
  • FYI, you can kill explorer.exe and restart it instead of restarting the computer. Much faster that way.