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Stupid Geek Tricks: How to Switch Windows 7 to the XP Style Alt-Tab Switcher

A while back, we showed a fun Easter egg in Windows 7 that shows the old XP-Style Alt-Tab switcher if you use a certain combination of keys, and today we’re going to show you how to switch to the old style permanently—not that we’d actually recommend it.

For example, here’s the Windows XP style Alt-Tab being used in Windows 7, which doesn’t use thumbnails like the Windows 7 version does. What we’ll do is use a registry hack courtesy of reader Benjamin. Thanks!

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Note: we’re not actually recommending this or saying that it’s better than Windows 7, but it’s an extra option in case you like the old way better. What we do recommend, however, is taking a look at the awesome VistaSwitcher Alt-Tab replacement application. It’s great.

Manual Registry Hack to Enable XP Alt-Tab

Open up regedit.exe through the Start Menu search or run box, and then browse down to the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

Once you’re there, create a new 32-bit DWORD on the right-hand side, give it the name AltTabSettings, and assign the value as 1.

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Once you’ve done so, the Alt-Tab prompt should immediately change to the XP style. To remove and get back to the Windows 7 style, you’ll need to delete the registry key and then log out and back in.

Downloadable Registry Hack

You can simply download, extract, and then double-click on the XPAltTab.reg file to enter the information into the registry. To remove, use the Windows7AltTab.reg file, and then log out and back in.

Download XPStyle Alt-Tab Registry Hack from howtogeek.com

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/8/10

Comments (6)

  1. Chris

    I get nothing when installing this.

  2. Hatryst

    I wonder who would prefer chunky XP style stuff over eye-candy Windows 7 ;)

  3. Kervin

    Thanks!! The preview windows in windows 7 is shit. A developer needs a quick switcher! Have been searching for that.

  4. Aakash

    Sir,
    Please find a way to switch xp into a window 7 style. I mean the whole appearence should change.

    THANKS

  5. Shitterwing

    Hack aint the way. Just switch to “classic” theme (both “Aero” and “Basic” utilize a stupid clumsy alt+tab process that treats “Desktop Layer” as a window, that’s the reason to switch to old alt+tab). :)

  6. walrus

    Is there a way to make it permanent look old style? Because mine accidentally turned into old style permanently and I want to switch it back and I don’t know how…
    Help please!

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