Alt Tab Not Working on Windows 7, 8 or 10 {Solved}

Keyboard shortcuts have made life easy for us while operating on the PC. However, there always has been one of the most used and maybe also one of the favorite of many users, the “ALT + TAB” combination. It is used to switch between applications while simultaneously operating multiple programs/applications.

This Alt + Tab combo is also known as the Task Switcher and has been a basic shortcut since Windows 3.0. Sometimes this combination might fail due to several reasons which can create complications in one’s computing experience. The following methods can be used to fix the issue and regain control over this useful shortcut.

How to Fix Alt Tab Not Working on Windows 7, 8 or 10

Solution 1: Turn Off The Machine and Unplug All The Cables

The simplest of all methods is to unplug the cables of the computer after shutting it down. The computer’s unresponsive behavior could be because of:

  1. The cables might be loose and hence this would create the problem of devices and equipment not functioning properly as they should.
  2. Equipment such as the keyboard tends to become unresponsive if their cable gets disconnected from the main system.

The best bet is to replug all the cables ensuring that loose wires are not causing any problems. If equipment goes bad, then the only option is to replace it. Don’t leave any stone unturned.

Solution 2: Check The Keyboard

The keyboard is the ultimate hardware present alongside a computer. This allows almost full control of the computer and can even take control of the mouse if required.  Executing shortcuts is only possible via a keyboard be it a virtual one or the real deal.

This fix basically focuses on the condition of the keyboard used to execute the shortcut.

Step 1: Check if all the keys of the keyboard are functioning properly.

Step 2: Visit this site to check your keyboard buttons: http://en.key-test.ru/

Step 3: For offline users, open any word editing software and test the various keys individually to ensure that all the keys are working properly.

If by any chance the keyboard fails the above test, it must be replaced immediately.

Solution 3: CHANGE INTERNET BROWSER

Sometimes the web browser in use does not allow users to change/switch screens during operations. This might be caused due to various reasons:

  1. The browser uses plug-ins that disables the switch feature of the machine.
  2. Sometimes the Add-ons/Extensions used on these browsers do not allow switching screens in order to prevent disruption of an ongoing process.

In this case, the extensions can be removed from the setting menu itself. But a more foolproof option is to uninstall the current browser itself and use the latest versions of the browsers supported by the operating systems. One such browser is the Edge browser by Microsoft for Windows 10.

Solution 4: Restart Windows Explorer or File Explorer

The Windows Explorer or File Explorer sometimes prevents keyboard shortcuts due to the fact that it overrides the functioning of other applications. It eats away CPU memory and uses cache space for storing only its own data. This prevents switching of screens because while switching screens along with applications, the memory allocation would also change.

The following steps are valid on operating systems running on Windows XP or later versions of it.

Step 1: Open the Task Manager using one of the methods below:

Step 2: Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC (for direct Taskbar screen)

Step 3: Press CTRL + ALT + DELETE.

Step 4: Open the Command Console by using the search bar. Type “taskmgr” and press ENTER.

Step 5: Right Click on the Window Explorer/File Explorer icon and select “End Task/Process”.

Step 6: The application can also be restarted but ending it is recommended.

Step 7: Reopen the Explorer and also try switching screens with the ALT + TAB combo between different applications.

Solution 5: Close sidebar.Exe Process

The sidebar is a vertical panel on the side on the Windows screen that contains various gadgets. This Sidebar is an exclusive that is available only to Windows 2007, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 versions.

So this solution/fix is basically for the users of Windows that uses the above-mentioned versions.

Step 1: Firstly, open the Task Manager using one of the methods below:

Step 2: Secondly, press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC (for direct Taskbar screen)

Step 3: Press CTRL + ALT + DELETE.

Step 4: Open the Command Console by using the search bar. Type “taskmgr” and press ENTER.

Step 5: Under the “Processes” tab search for the “Sidebar.exe” process.

Step 6: Right Click on it and press on “End Task”.

Step 7:  Lastly, close the Task Manager and test the keyboard shortcuts required to use.

Solution 6: Disable Aero Peek

Microsoft has added a feature in Windows 7, 8, and 10 which allows viewing the desktop. This feature known as the Aero Peek is located at the extreme right side of the Taskbar. Simple placing the cursor over the aero peek button will provide a view of the desktop in use.

For Windows 7 users:

Step 1: Right-click on the Taskbar.

Step 2: Select “Properties”.

Step 3: Under the Tab of “Use Aero Peek to preview the desktop” disable the option. And press ok.

For Windows 10 users: There are many ways to disable the Aero Peek, but two of the most common are discussed.

Direct Method

Step 1: Right-click on the Aero Peek button present on the far right side of the Taskbar.

Step 2: Select “Peek at Desktop”

Settings Method

Step 1: Right Click on the Taskbar and click on Taskbar Settings.

Step 2: Under the “Use Peek to preview the desktop when you move your mouse to the Show desktop button at the end of the taskbar” turn it off.

These methods should disable the Aero Peek feature that is turned on by default. All problems regarding the ALT + TAB related to the Aero Peek feature should be solved.

Solution 7: Change Registry Settings

The database for all settings used by Microsoft Windows is stored in the Registry. It stores custom as well as default configurations for all hardware devices, applications, and the whole system. Sometimes these configurations might be changed automatically to suit the requirements of the system. This may cause problems to the execution of preloaded commands such as Windows shortcuts. To solve this problem, the user needs to have administrative privileges to make changes to the Registry of the system.

Follow the given steps to solve this issue:

Step 1: Press the Windows + R to bring up the RUN

Step 2: Type in “regedit” to open the Registry Editor.

Step 3: Navigate the following one by one,

Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

Step 4: Right-click on the window to the right of the path directory. Choose New” and then choose “DWORD (32bit) Value”.

Step 5: Create a new shortcut value of ALT + TAB by naming the value as “AltTabShortcut”. Set the value data as 1.

Step 6: Click OK and exit the editor.

Step 7: Restart the machine and try out the shortcut.

This will create a new setting that will have the value of 1 meaning that it is true in case of the execution. Hence this should enable the ALT + TAB shortcut.

Solution 8: Run Windows Update

Windows Update is very important as the Microsoft developers releases various fixes for small bugs that are impossible to fix by ordinary people. Always keep the Windows version up to date.

Follow these steps to update the Windows version:

Step 1: Click on Start and search for “Updates”.

Step 2: Click on “Check for Updates”.

Step 3: Install any updates if detected by the system.

Solution 9: Remove Alternate Keyboard

The system might automatically download some third-party software that interferes with the original hardware attached to the computer. If such software is downloaded in the form of virtual keyboards, then we have to remove them immediately. To remove the virtual software, follow the given steps:

Step 1: Click on the Start button.

Step 2: Open Settings.

Step 3: Under the Apps,  go to the apps and features list.

Step 4: Search for “Keyboard”.

If any unknown/third party keyboard software shows up. Uninstall it and exit. That’ll solve the problem regarding the changes made by the third party softwares.

Solution 10: Uninstall Lenovo Communication Utility

Lenovo has a unique feature known as the Communication Utility that allows optimizing the Video and Voice over the Internet (VOIP) experience by changing settings.

The steps to uninstalling this are pretty similar to the previous method discussed:

Step 1: First of all, click on the Start button.

Step 2: Secondly, open Settings.

Step 3: Under the Apps, go to the apps and features list.

Step 4: Search for “Lenovo Communication Utility” on the list and uninstall it.

Step 5: Lastly, restart the system and run the non-functional shortcuts now.

Solution 11: Uninstall Real Player

Real Player is a cross-platform multimedia player. This application might prevent the system from allowing running shortcut commands. The only way to solve this problem is to uninstall this outdated piece of application.

Step 1: Firstly, click on the Start button.

Step 2: Open Settings.

Step 3: Search for “Real Player” and Uninstall it.

Step 4: Lastly, restart the system and try running the shortcuts.

Solution 12: Revert To Old Alt + Tab

Before the new and convenient regime of the ALT + TAB combination came into use for switching applications, there used to be the older version of the combination that made the switch screen persist. Only after selecting the application would the ALT-TAB screen would disappear.

If the latest combination is not working for some users, they could try and use the old method for Alt Tabbing and changing /switching applications.

For this method use the following steps:

Step 1: Click and hold on the Left ALT button.

Step 2: Press the Right ALT now and keep holding it.

Step 3: Simultaneously press the TAB button.

Step 4: All the steps should be followed while holding down the Left and Right ALT key together.

Solution 13: Disconnect Hubs and Usb Headsets

A hub is a device used to connect multiple computers. Also, other network devices together through the same network port.

USB Headsets are usually combination microphones and headphones connected to the computer through a USB port/Wire.

This external hardware sometimes messes with the other existing hardware that makes them function weirdly or even cause defections. If this is the case, the user must unplug the hub and USB Headset that is currently in use with the system. This will disconnect any kind of synchronization of these devices with the other hardware and the problem should be solved easily.

Solution 14: Change Docking Station Cable Between Monitor And Notebook

People use Docking Station Cables to connect devices. This cable connects the docking station between the laptop/computer and other devices such as mobile phones, etc for providing power or to use the auxiliary features of the device connected to it.

Sometimes when the cables are defective and used for connecting the monitor and notebook, it might cause problems such as misreading information passed between the cables. This might lead to complications such as a glitch in the information received from the notebook to be misread by the computer itself.

The only solution is to change the cable itself so that the persisting problem can be solved with ease.

Solution 15: Change BIOS Version

BIOS, i.e. the basic input/output system, is the pre-written program on the computer’s memory that synchronizes the computer with its attached hardware and softwares to make the system whole and user interactive.

Follow the next steps to check the version of BIOS used on the computer:

Step 1: Search for “cmd” and open the command prompt up.

Step 2: Type the following – wmic bios get smbiosbiosversion

Step 3: Check the version of BIOS used.

If case you have out-dated BIOS version,

Step 1: Find the manufacturer of the computer’s motherboard and go to their website.

Step 2: Download the latest version of the BIOS software from the given list.

There are more complex ways to change the BIOS version of the computer through Boot-up methods but the above one is quite simple and effective in solving the inconsistency that might have been coming from an old BIOS version.

Solution 16: Change Game To Use Windowed Mode  

Many games run in full-screen mode which is preferable by most gamers. But this might create conflicts between the system settings and the game settings that don’t allow application switching while running the game on full-screen mode.

To change the full-screen mode to windowed mode follow the steps given below. The steps given are generally similar to all kinds of games as the option to change screen mode usually lies under the same category of game settings.

Step 1: Run the game.

Step 2: Go to Setting and find the Video Settings for the game. (The Video setting for all games must be located inside the main settings menu under Display Tab)

Step 3: Restart the game and test out the ALT + TAB shortcut.

It should work fine now.

Solution 17: Disable Full-Screen Optimization On Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike Global Offensive is a very popular FPS game that has a vast user base. The users often switch back and forth from this gaming application as it becomes pretty much an addiction after some period of time. If the ALT + TAB combo doesn’t work while operating this game, users might get frustrated. So to solve this, follow any one of the tips below:

Command Method

Step 1: Firstly, open the Steam Application and locate the CSGO icon.

Step 2: Right-click on it and go to Properties.

Step 3: Click on “SET LAUNCH OPTIONS…”

Step 4: Then, type down “-windowed”. This will force CSGO to start in windowed mode.

In-game Method

Step 1: Run the game.

Step 2: Go to Setting > Video Tab > Display Mode.

Step 3: Select “Windowed” and restart the game.

This will solve the issue in no time.

Solution 18: Change Game Properties

This method is used to run games in windowed mode by default without even running the game at first to change the settings.

Step 1: Right-click on the shortcut of the game icon.

Step 2: Select “Properties”

Step 3: Under the “Target” field, add –window or –w after the file directory.

Step 4: This will directly run the application on windowed mode.

This fix will ensure that the ALT + TAB shortcut works in between when the game is running and switches to other applications with ease.

Conclusion

The ALT + TAB shortcut is a boon to users for quick access and hence it should be used without any regret. These fixes are a good way to make sure that the shortcut is exploited to its full potential.

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