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After 4 years of being a Mac user, there is only one thing that I still miss from the Windows world, and that is being able to switch with a single keystroke between all open windows in the computer.

What is the best app or utility, free or not, for accomplishing that?

I've used Witch, but I never was completely satisfied with it. It's a bit slow and the switcher UI is not very pretty.

Do you know any alternative?

EDIT (2016): This question keeps getting views and upvotes after 6 years. When I asked this question in 2010 I was still transitioning from being a Windows user. Eventually, I got used to Mac OS X UI and nowadays I don't use any third party utility for managing app windows, just Mission Control and the native keyboard shortcuts. So, although this question is no longer relevant for me I hope it is useful to new Mac users making the switch (Including this comment).

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When is Witch slow? I've just started using it. – J. Pablo Fernández Sep 30 '10 at 8:52
What about Exposé's F9 function? – andersmoldin Apr 24 '11 at 2:37

10 Answers 10

Hyperswitch is free and works well. It also looks nice:

enter image description here

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Well, after 4 years comes an answer that solves exactly my original question. No more, no less. I hope this goes out of beta soon. thanks!, I will try it for a couple of weeks and if it works as advertised I could even mark it as the accepted answer. – Sergio Acosta Apr 15 '14 at 1:21
Finally the solution! – Lumi Jun 8 '14 at 8:40
Holy crap i created an account on Ask different just to thanks @Paul for this one, finally found an app like this for free – Pedro Garcia Mota Feb 13 '15 at 14:20
Hyperswitch does NOT implement the window switching feature that has been most valuable for me on MS Windows: It does not allow to quickly switch between last-used windows. This is important for me as I constantly switch between e.g. editor and browser to control my work. I have many windows open in both editor an browser and with Hyperswitch I have to do many keystrokes to switch back and forth between the most recently used. I found that Witch solves that. The list of Windows to switch between is by default ordered by usage and I can easily switch between the most recent ones. – Jpsy Mar 27 '15 at 17:17
@Jspy hyperswitch does that - I just downloaded the latest verison, maybe you have older one – Srneczek Sep 3 '15 at 16:38

I'm guessing you're already aware, but for those searching the web there's always Ctrl+F4. No visual feedback, but it does switch between all windows for all apps (that are not hidden) with one command. Of course it's instant and so it doesn't reorder the list like ⌘+Tab does. I also got tired of Witch, but I decided that most of the time ⌘+` is all I need.

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[⌘] + [`] "is all I need" - indeed! – a darren Jan 9 '14 at 14:19
The visual feedback is important for me and doesn't exist in ⌘+`. – AlikElzin-kilaka May 15 '14 at 12:41
And Cmd + ` doesn't work across multiple spaces. – GregB Jul 22 '14 at 19:39
@GregB I take that as a plus :) – nyxz Mar 25 '15 at 22:06
And [command] + [`] with [command] + [tab] is annoying because they have two separate list-ordering rulesets. – Joseph Jun 13 at 1:00

An app I developed, Optimal Layout (14$), gives you keyboard commands to quickly switch and re-organize windows.

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That's just exactly what I was looking for. Thanks both for answering and for making the app. I'm currently evaluating it. I hope you'll have me as a new customer soon. – Sergio Acosta Sep 29 '10 at 20:25
Optimal Layout is nice, I tried it, but I didn’t buy it because I already had my “muscle memory” tied to using the OS X shortcuts (which I’ve changed) and the Window placement handled by SizeUp. But it’s a very promising app! – Martín Marconcini Sep 30 '10 at 10:00

For those who don't know it, Ctrl+F4, Ctl+`, ... can be remapped in: SystemPreferences=>Keyboard=>Keyboard Shortcuts=>Keyboard & Text Input

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I'll add, since some might not already know, that Ctrl-F4 can be used to switch between all open windows when "Enable access for assistive devices" is turned on in Universal Access. – NReilingh Apr 1 '12 at 4:14
This is the simplest way, without installing any extra software. Thanks! – poolie Nov 21 '15 at 16:28
@L0CKnL0aD7 this might be the answer for me, if for one thing: is it possible to make the window order be most recently used rather than when it was opened? – Joseph Jun 13 at 1:22

Command + Tab, combined with Command + `. Works great.

Let me explain:

  • Command + Tab : Switch between different applications.
  • Command + ` : Cycle between all open windows of the application you're focused on. (For example, if you have four Finder windows open, you can press Command + ` to move between the four windows.)

If this and other keyboard shortcuts seems to be broken, you probably have another keyboard-layout then US, The shortcuts actually aren't to the ` key but rather the key that would have ` on a US keyboard, to find what key this is on your layout, open the "keyboard viewer" and switch your layout to US, take notice on where the ` key is located, swich back to your normal layout and you can now use this button to switch windows.

On a swedish keyboard ` is the button next to 1 (§) on the small/laptop keyboard, and the key next to z (<) on the full size keyboard.

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Thanks for your answer. I know about both shortcuts, but I'm specifically looking for a single keyboard shortcut solution to switch between all open windows. – Sergio Acosta Sep 29 '10 at 18:45
+1. Although for me, Command + ` seems to work rather than Ctrl + `. – gary Mar 12 '11 at 10:46
Too bad Apple didn't think about keyboards where the ` key is not near the TAB key, and worse, where you need a modifier key to select it :-( – Rabarberski Aug 5 '11 at 9:23
@Rabarberski Well at least in finnish locale (where the ` key is not near tab) the cycle-within-app shortcut instead uses the < key which is near the tab. – Ilari Kajaste Apr 3 '13 at 11:03
Command + ` work for me. – weston May 29 '14 at 15:47

Contexts for mac is an app currently in beta that seems to be a competitor to Witch. As a long-time non-mac user looking for more intuitive window switching , I have a good first impression of this app. It allows for switching between all the windows you have open, using your keyboard or your mouse.

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@sergio I also had a good first impression of this app, any reason it doesn't work for you? May have been updated since you tried it. – Jay Apr 11 at 16:42
For those of you reading this in 2016, Contexts is your solution. It works beautifully. – Joseph Jun 13 at 1:46

I know it isn't a single keystroke but I like using the "App exposé" feature to navigate between the windows of the focused application :

  • ctrl + down arrow (or three fingers down move)
  • then left arrow or right arrow to navigate between windows (or click on the window you chose)
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Thanks for answering!. It's been 5 years since I asked my question but honestly I still haven't found a 100% satisfactory answer. However, this is actually a very good suggestion!. I didn't know about that shortcut, and in fact it was disabled on my Mac. I already enabled it and will be using this to see how it works with my workflow. – Sergio Acosta Sep 21 '15 at 14:40

Senebier seems to be a good alternative to witch and it's free.

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  1. Quicksilver (or spotlight). You summon the App you are interested on, say Safari.
  2. Using Mission Control's Show application windows (you can assign a shortcut to this using the keyboard icon on the system preferences)
  3. Once all the application windows are being shown, you can type (there's no text field, you will just have to start typing) the title of the window you care. After a couple of keystrokes, your window will be selected.

At the beginning you'll be slow but as time goes by, you'll become pretty fast.

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It's interesting - no one has mentioned Karabiner. it has ton of options for different things, the one I like called "Tab mode", where you can switch between apps by holding Tab key and using either arrows or HJKL keys (especially favored by Vim users). Tab+I to cycle through open windows of the current app.

I love Karabiner, it's the app that made me really, really hate Windows (occasionally I have to do things in Windows). However even with awesome AutoHotkey app I couldn't find a way to use keyboard there as Karabiner lets me on a Mac.

I encourage you to try Karabiner and explore vast amount of different options, trust me - it will change the way you use your keyboard.

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