Ever since Windows exists there was a very handy Alt+Tab combination to quickly switch between open applications. Nowadays, when people are using many screens for single computer it might be less often used, but still is very familiar and handy.
Not for so long time, but still for quite long, Microsoft is doing everything to make that simple, obvious and easy to understand combination work as wrong as possible in their products, so from time to time you may run into a really weird behaviour. For example:
- Pressing Alt+Tab in Excel 2010 or older, when two or more workbooks are open does not work (user focus remains in the same workbook there wanted to switch from)
- Pressing the same combination in Microsoft Edge causes focus to shift through tabs rather than active applications.
Fortunately these inconsistencies and workflow breakers exists only in certain Microsoft products and are easy to fix.
Hit Alt+Tab twice to get away from Microsoft Excel
In Excel 2010 and below do this:
- Go to Options → Advanced → Display,
- Uncheck Show all windows in the Taskbar,
- Hit Enter (or click OK) to confirm changes and close the window.
However, this is only a semi-solution. In produces even more wako behaviour of Excel in my opinion. After unckecking the above checkbox you’ll always see one item in the task bar even if you have more than one Excel workbooks open (seems very unnatural)!
And you are expected to press Ctrl+Tab to navigate between these hidden workbooks of Excel while using regular Alt+Tab to switch between Excel and other apps.
If neither of the solutions works for you, consider reverting your Windows to old-style Alt+Tab UI.
Edge switches to another tab rather than application
If you press Alt+Tab combination, but won’t release it while being in Microsoft Edge, you may be surprised to see that certain (not all of them) tabs are shown as separate applications in app list:
This makes similar horrible experience as above (in case of Excel) where pressing Alt+Tab is totally inconsistent between Microsoft Edge and other apps.
To fix this:
- Open Settings
- Go to System → Multitasking
- Find label Pressing Alt+Tab shows
- Select Open windows only
This option exist in Windows probably since Microsoft Edge’s introduction, but it is reported to be gone in Windows 10 1909. I can confirm that in my Windows 10 19042 it exists, but is disabled by default.