Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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?

share|improve this question
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

8 Answers 8

up vote 12 down vote accepted

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

share|improve this answer
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

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

enter image description here


share|improve this answer
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
I started using this beta. So far, so good. The only missing feature from the Windows implementation is the desktop composition where all windows are hidden, except for the window that is selected in the alt-tab menu. –  GregB Jul 22 '14 at 19:50
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 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 at 17:17

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.

share|improve this answer
[⌘] + [`] "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 at 22:06

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

Let me explain:

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

share|improve this answer
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

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


share|improve this answer
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

Senebier seems to be a good alternative to witch and it's free. http://www.bicoid.com/app/senebier/index.html

share|improve this answer


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.

share|improve this answer
  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.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.