Full Fix: ‘Alt Tab’ Not Working in Windows 10, 8.1 or 7

Andrew Wafer By: Andrew Wafer
6 minute read

Home » Full Fix: ‘Alt Tab’ Not Working in Windows 10, 8.1 or 7

Switching between multiple apps in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 based devices can be made by using a combination of two keyboard buttons: Alt + Tab. We know that, because we are constantly using this feature for managing our tasks and tools easily and quickly. But what can we do when the alt + tab switching features stops working?

Well, we can try to fix this Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 issue. Now, if you are not an advanced user, or if you had never experienced this problem, you will notice that you don’t have any idea about fixing the alt tab issue, which means that a proper tutorial will be more than helpful. In that matter, you can anytime use the steps from below for learning how to easily fix the alt + tab switching feature in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

How to fix Alt Tab Feature in Windows 8, 8.1

Alt Tab is one of the most basic shortcuts that users use almost every day. Not being able to use Alt Tab can be a big problem, and in this article we’re going to cover the following issues:

  • Alt Tab not switching Windows 10 – Several users reported that Alt Tab doesn’t switch windows on their Windows 10 PC. This can be an annoying problem, but you should be able to fix it using one of our solutions.
  • Alt Tab not working properly – In some cases, Alt Tab keyboard shortcut might not work properly on your PC. Fortunately, this is just a minor problem and it can be easily resolved.
  • Alt Tab not working with Excel – Sometimes this issue can affect other applications such as Microsoft Excel. It’s worth mentioning that this problem also affects other third-party application.
  • Alt Tab Aero Peek not working – Users reported that Aero Peek feature isn’t working on their PC. However, you can fix the problem simply by reenabling Aero Peek on your PC.
  • Alt Tab not showing preview, desktop – Several users reported that Alt Tab shortcut isn’t showing window previews or desktop. This is a minor problem that can be easily resolved.
  • Alt-Tab disappears quickly – This is another issue related to Alt Tab keyboard shortcut. Few users reported that Alt Tab menu disappears quickly, but you should be able to fix that by using one of our solutions.

If you are having problems with other important keyboard combinations, you can have a look at our previous article on how to fix problems with ctr+alt+delete not working.

Solution 1 – Make sure you have enabled the App Switching feature on Windows 8

Before trying in resolving complex problems, you should begin with some basic procedures, such as ensuring that app switching is enabled on your Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 device. In that matter you should follow the steps from below:

  1. Go to your Windows 8 Start Screen.
  2. Then head to Settings and pick Allow.
  3. Now make sure that the Allow switching between recent apps option is being enabled.

After enabling this feature, test the Alt + Tab shortcut in order to see if you can switch between various apps.


Solution 2 – Fix the problem by modifying Registry Values

  1. Press Windows + R buttons at the same time to open the Run dialog.
  2. Enter regedit in the input field and press Enter or click OK.
    Alt-Tab disappears quickly
  3. From the window that will be displayed on your device, navigate to path HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer – just expand each path by clicking on HKEY_CURRENT_USER, then on Software and so on.
    Alt Tab not switching Windows 10
  4. In the left pane, look for AltTabSettings DWORD. If this DWORD isn’t available, you need to create it. To do that, simply right click the right pane and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Now enter AltTabSettings as the name of the new DWORD.
    Alt Tab not working properly
  5. Double click the AltTabSettings DWORD and change its Value Data to 1. After doing that, click OK to save changes.
    Alt Tab not working with Excel

After creating this DWORD and changing its value the problem should be resolved. Several users reported that they already had this value in their registry, and they fixed the problem simply by deleting AltTabSettings from the registry. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Locate AltTabSettings, right click it and choose Delete from the menu.
    Alt Tab Aero Peek not working
  2. When the confirmation menu appears, click on Yes to proceed.

Once you delete this value from your registry, check if the problem is resolved.


Solution 3 – Restart Windows Explorer

If Alt Tab is not working on your Windows 10 PC, you might be able to fix the problem simply by restarting Windows Explorer. This is rather simple and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager.
  2. Now locate Windows Explorer process, right click it and choose Restart from the menu.
    Alt Tab not showing desktop

After doing that, your Windows Explorer should restart and Alt Tab shortcut will start working again. Keep in mind that this might be just a temporary solution, so you’ll have to repeat it if the issue reappears.


Solution 4 – Make sure that Peek option is enabled

Many users reported that Alt Tab command didn’t work on their PC, but they managed to fix it simply by enabling Peek option. To enable this option, you need to do the following:

  1. In the Search bar enter advanced. Now select View advanced system settings.
    Alt Tab not working with Excel
  2. Click the Settings button in the Performance section.
    Alt Tab Aero Peek not working
  3. Now make sure that Enable Peek option is checked. Click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    Alt Tab not showing preview

After enabling the Peek option, Alt Tab command should start working again.


Solution 5 – Disconnect your peripherals

According to users, Alt Tab is not working on their PC due to various peripherals. Devices such as headsets or USB mice can cause this problem to occur. Users reported that they resolved this issue after disconnecting their headset or USB mouse from the PC.

This is a simple workaround, and if you have this problem, be sure to try disconnecting your peripherals. Keep in mind that this might be just a temporary solution, so you’ll have to repeat it if the problem reappears.


Solution 6 – Disable / enable your hotkeys

In some cases this problem can occur if your hotkeys are disabled. This can sometimes occur due to third-party applications or malware, but you can easily fix this problem. You can enable or disable hotkeys by doing the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter gpedit.msc. Press Enter or click OK.
    Alt-Tab disappears quickly
  2. Group Policy Editor will now start. In the left pane, navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer. In the right pane, double click on Turn off Windows Key hotkeys.
    Alt Tab not switching Windows 10
  3. Select Enabled and click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    Alt Tab not switching Windows 10

If that doesn’t work, repeat the same steps, but this time select Disabled. Now check if your hotkeys work. If nothing works, select Not Configured and save changes.

If you can’t access Group Policy or if you want to make these changes quickly, you can perform them by using a registry file. To do that, you need to download these files:

After downloading the registry files, simply double click the registry file to run it. When the confirmation dialog appears, click on Yes.
Alt Tab not working properly
Several users reported that they solved the issue after using the registry file to disable Windows Key hotkeys, so be sure to try that. Of course, you can always revert the changes by using the registry file to enable Windows Key hotkeys.

That was all; now you know how to easily fix the alt + tab not working issue in Windows 8, so you can anytime use the switching feature on your laptop, tablet or desktop.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2014 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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