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Alt-Tab Update

Replace the aging Windows Task Switcher with a 21st century tool.

Alt-Tab Thingy is a free tool that replaces the venerable Alt-Tab function, also known as the Task Switcher, in Windows. Alt-Tab Thingy is a much more capable and flexible tool. It still lets you switch rapidly between programs and windows, but it's highly customizable, with numerous settings and options, and it adds some useful extras. It breathes new life into an old Windows feature.

Alt-Tab Thingy's system tray icon accesses its two main interfaces; one is an extensively tabbed Settings dialog, the other an enhanced version of the Windows Task Switcher box with an optional Preview Pane. The Settings include everything from Taskbar Preview and Minimize Switch to a Black List of programs excluded from the Task List and a Ghosting slider that configures window opacity. There are lots of neat little options to set, such as one that automatically minimizes a window to either the task bar or system tray when you select another window. Among other functions, we could change our display settings, disable the need to press the Alt key, set our own alternative to the Tab key, set the mouse scroll wheel to move highlighted areas instead of the scrollbar, change icons and program views, and automatically close or minimize any Explorer window that goes inactive for a predetermined time.

How does it work? Quite well: Pressing Alt-Tab opens the Task List, which is similar to the native Windows view except it stays open, letting users select apps with their mouse instead of the keyboard (though holding down the Alt key let us tab through the windows in the Task List if we preferred). The Preview Pane is a handy enhancement, especially if you've got a lot of similar windows open simultaneously. Right-clicking any entry in the Task List let us select from a menu of Task Actions as well as set options like ghosting, always on top, and task sorting. And we like the many ways we could customize how Alt-Tab Thingy behaves. Definitely recommended, unless you prefer to use the vintage Win95-era tool. We're just sayin'.

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