Command Tab

Command Tab
Mac Tip #161/11-August-2004

Let’s say you’re typing up an email. You want to get some information from a web page so you switch to Safari. Then you need to look in on iPhoto so you switch to that and then back to your email software.

How do you switch between them?

One way is to visit the Dock and click on the icon for the program you want. Another way is to use Expose (Mac Tip #127/12-Nov-2003, Expose your Desktop).

Yet another way is to use the Application Switcher by holding down the Command key and pressing the Tab key. Keep the Command key down and each time you press Tab you’ll highlight the next program in sequence. Let go the Command key once you’ve highlighted the correct program.

But it gets better. While a program is highlighted press H to Hide that program or Q to quit it. Hold down the Shift key while you press Tab and the highlight will move from right to left instead of left to right.

If you just press Command Tab quickly you’ll switch between the two programs you most recently accessed.

So, for that old switcheroo, remember: Command Tab.

Update 25 August 2004: This Tip originally specified Option Tab as the way to do this. That was a huge mistake from an over-tired brain. I must thank Rajiv, who was the only one to draw it to my attention.

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  1. Miraz Jordan said:

    Tom emailed:
    You can just as well press “< " instead of Shift-Tab for moving backwards. And I add: or > for moving to the right.

  2. Miraz Jordan said:

    Oh, absolutely! Just shows how much I needed the holiday I took straight after writing that Tip. Many thanks Rajiv. Correction coming now.

  3. Rajiv Manglani said:

    shouldn’t this article be about Command-Tab ? That is the standard way to bring up the application switcher.

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