How to Make Windows 10’s Alt+Tab App Switcher More Transparent

By default, the Alt+Tab app switcher in Windows is nearly opaque. If you’d like to see a little more of your desktop peeking through, you just have to make a couple light edits to the Windows Registry.

In Windows, when you hold down the Alt key and then press Tab repeatedly, you get a handy app switching window that lets you move through open app windows without resorting to the full screen switcher you get when you use the Windows+Tab combo. By default, the app switching window is pretty dark and nearly opaque. But if you’re willing to make a couple of edits to the Registry—or use our one-click download—you can adjust it to any level of transparency you like. We’ve also shown you lots of built-in ways you can customize Windows 10’s appearance to your liking and we’ve covered a similar Registry-based method for making your Windows taskbar more transparent.

Make the Alt+Tab Switcher More Transparent by Editing the Registry Manually

To adjust the transparency level of the Alt+Tab switching window, you just need to make a few edits in the Windows Registry.

Standard warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

Open the Registry Editor by hitting Start and typing “regedit.” Press Enter to open Registry Editor and give it permission to make changes to your PC.

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In the Registry Editor, use the left sidebar to navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

Next, you’ll create a new key inside the Explorer key. Right-click the Explorer key and choose New > Key. Name the new key “MultitaskingView.” If you already see a MultitaskingView key in this location, just skip this step.

Now, you’ll create another new key—this time inside the new MultitaskingView key you just created. Right-click the MultitaskingView key and choose New > Key. Name the new key “AltTabViewHost.”

Next, you’re going to create a value inside that new key. Right-click the AltTabViewHost key and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the new value “Grid_backgroundPercent.”

Double-click the new Grid_backgroundPercent value to open its properties window.

In the properties window, select the “Decimal” option and then type a number between zero and one hundred into the “Value data” box. That number represents the opacity percentage you want for the window. A value of zero would make it completely transparent. A value of 100 would make it completely opaque. For reference, the default opacity percentage is around 85. When you’ve set the number, click “OK.”

The change should take place immediately, so go ahead and hold the Alt key down and then press Tab to open the switcher window. If you want to adjust the transparency some more, just open the Grid_backgroundPercent value in Registry Editor and change the number. When you’re happy with the transparency level, you can go ahead and close Registry Editor.

Below, you can see the difference between setting the opacity percentage to 85 (the Windows default) on the left and to 20 (which is much closer to transparent) on the right.

And if you ever want to remove the change, just go back and either set that value to 85 (the default opacity level) or just delete the value altogether.

Download Our One-Click Registry Hacks

If you don’t feel like diving into the Registry yourself, we’ve created some registry hacks you can use. The “Set Alt+Tab Transparency Level to Custom Value” hack adds all of the keys and values you’ll need. The “Restore Alt_Tab Default Transparency” hack removes the values, restoring the Windows default. Both hacks are included in the following ZIP file.

Alt+Tab Window Transparency Hacks

Of course, since we don’t know what transparency level you want to use, you’ll have to edit the custom value hack a bit before you use it. After downloading and unzipping the hacks, right-click the “Set Alt+Tab Transparency Level to Custom Value” hack and choose the “Edit” command from the context menu.

This opens the hack in notepad. On the last line, look for the “dword:00000020” text. Replace the last three digits of that number with an opacity percentage value between 000 and 100, where 000 is completely transparent and 100 is completely opaque. So, for example, if you wanted to set an opacity percentage of 25, that text should read “dword:00000025.” You just want to make sure you keep all those preceding zeros in place so that the full number is eight characters long.

Of course, if you want to go ahead and try a 20% opacity, you could just use the file as is without making any edits.

When you’re done making edits, save the file and then double-click it to apply it to your Registry.

These hacks are really just the AltTabViewHost key, stripped down to just the Grid_backgroundPercent  value we talked about in the previous section and then exported to a .REG file. Running the hacks just modifies the value. And if you enjoy fiddling with the Registry, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to make your own Registry hacks.

Walter Glenn is a long time computer geek and tech writer. Though he's mostly a Windows and gadget guy, he has a fondness for anything tech. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.