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Is there a keyboard shortcut to restore a minimised application window from the Dock?

Almost all Apple Mac OSX applications respond to the Apple + M command which minimises the current application window to the Dock, which is fine.

I can then use Alt + Tab to cycle through my running applications - including the minimised application, but selecting the application with the minimised window neither restores the minimised window, nor sets focus to the minimised application window in the Dock so I can restore it without having to reach for the Mouse..

Update: Thanks for the answers, however the consensus seems to be to use the 'Hide' feature (Apple + H) instead of minimising, as it's easier to get the window back using Alt + Tab.

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migrated from Jul 3 '12 at 18:06

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

nice Applescript:… – user30849 Sep 27 '12 at 9:50
+1 for adding the Update about using the 'Hide' feature – gprasant Apr 10 '15 at 0:40

14 Answers 14

up vote 117 down vote accepted
  1. Command + Tab until you get the app's icon.
  2. Before releasing Command, press and hold (option).
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Thanks! This does indeed answer my question. (hint - the 'option' key is also labelled 'alt' on the new mac keyboards) – Andrew Sep 17 '08 at 21:16
Is this only supposed to work when there all widows are minimized? It seems to only restore one window of many. – benc Oct 3 '08 at 22:47
This method is the equivalent of clicking the application's icon in the dock, so it behaves exactly the same way. – jtbandes Jul 24 '10 at 21:22
Exactly what I wanted -- thanks! – Yoav Shapira Dec 22 '11 at 15:49
There's something easier I use to do: instead of cmd + M (minimize) apps, etc, I use to cmd + H (hide). When I alt + tab (alternate apps, etc) it restores immediately. Btw, here goes two nice references for Mac shortcuts: – axcdnt Jul 3 '12 at 18:45

I asked for assistance at the Apple Genius bar in Aventura, and while they didn't have an answer, they did suggest using the Hide feature instead (Apple + H) which works well because when I Alt + Tab back to the application the hidden window is shown.

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I think this is a better way of doing things. Just hide the apps that you are not using at the moment. I do not know if there is a difference in resource usage between Hiding and Minimizing and app. – Tao Zhyn Sep 10 '08 at 19:39
Voted-up.... once I learned about Hide I stopped bothered with minimise. – robsoft Sep 10 '08 at 20:18
I prefer this method over the above one. Hold Alt after Cmd + Tab is not so convinient – Vdt Apr 17 '12 at 9:00
A critical difference b/w Hiding and Minimizing occurs in certain special usage patterns, for example if you've enabled iTerm's drop down terminal, then hitting your drop down terminal HotKey will do different things depending on whether the app was originally minimized or Hidden. If it was Hidden, it'll show/switch to your last visible iTerm terminal and also drop down the terminal, on the other hand if it was minimized, you'l still be able to see your current window behind the drop down. (Hopefully I was able to make some sense). – ffledgling Nov 21 '14 at 1:36

To restore one of many minimized windows using only the keyboard, you have two choices:

While using Cmd + tab (eg. changing applications):

  1. Start with a minimized window
  2. Cmd + tab to the application icon (Continue to hold Cmd)
  3. While holding Cmd, push the (or ) arrow key on the keyboard. This will bring up a list of all the application's windows (You can release key command key once the window list view comes up if you like)
  4. Push the down arrow key () to select the minimized windows.
  5. Use the left and right arrow keys ( or ) to select the minimized window you want
  6. Push Return or Enter to restore the window and bring it into focus (make it the selected window)

(Tested on OSX Mountain Lion)


Directly when the application is already the current application:

Steps as above, but instead of steps 2 and 3 (Cmd + tab and arrow keys):

  1. Start with a minimized window
  2. Control +

OSX Mountain Lion "Keyboard" preferences have a "Mission Control" keyboard shortcut for this:

OS10.8 Preferences: Keyboard/Keyboard Shortcuts/Mission Control

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That's really nice! – patrix Sep 24 '12 at 17:30
This is the best option if you have multiple windows open and need to choose which one to restore. – DrGuyBH Aug 9 '13 at 7:28
This is the answer, not: "use Hide". I know all about "hiding" and use it often. Minimizing/restoring minimized windows is useful when you have many browser windows (one with email, for example). I don't want to "hide" the entire browser; I want to minimize only the email window, and occasionally restore it [quickly with a keyboard shortcut]. – Richard Michael Nov 28 '13 at 19:27
Works on Yosemite too. Thanks for a great answer. – Bittenus Feb 24 '15 at 8:40
Step #4 ("Push the down arrow key (↓) to select the minimized windows.") isn't necessary on 10.11, it seems. The focus starts out in the row of minimized windows and old documents, even though there is no visible highlight; once you press left or right arrow the first one is highlighted and focused. – echristopherson Apr 29 at 14:00

I don't know of a direct way to restore a minimized window, however, you can get keyboard focus in the dock by pressing fn+control+F3. Then select the item you want via the arrow keys and press space or return to restore it.

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I had to find this one, as I use Linux as well as Mac OS X, and in Thunderbird Ctrl + M is the key to compose a new message... under Linux. On Mac OS X, it keeps "minimizing" the app. This is a little tricky, but...

Cmd + Tab to the app you want to restore. Release Tab, but keep Cmd held down. Now press Option (a.k.a. Alt), and while it is held down release Cmd.

I have been "training" myself to make use of Cmd + H (Hide) on Mac OS instead of minimizing. If you hide an app, then once it is selected via Cmd + Tab it pops back up on-screen.

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I would strongly suggest using Witch. This lets you bring back minimized apps, as well as 'orphaned' apps, after you have closed the main window. You can also directly access the different windows within an app. Well worth the registration fee; about 10 euros.

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Thanks for the tip, I'll check it out :o) – Andrew Sep 30 '08 at 12:41
+1 for a good suggestion which happens to be a paid app (also look at Optimal Layout which is in the App Store) – Mark Mar 23 '13 at 21:01

Cmd + Tab and focus on desired application and then press Cmd + L. (Works with Mountain Lion)

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How do you focus on the application using the keyboard? – Mark Mar 23 '13 at 21:00
This answers the question. But the hide function requires fewer keystrokes and is therefore preferable. – DrGuyBH Mar 28 '13 at 0:57
Unfortunately, Cmd + L conflicts with the command to focus on the omnibar in Chrome and search bar in other applications. – DrGuyBH Mar 29 '13 at 16:49
Doesn't work in Mavericks – yurkennis Jun 11 '14 at 15:29
Works on Yosemite, brings Chrome too. Chrome's shortcut Cmd+L is not active when minimized so they don't interfere. – Mert Jan 1 '15 at 6:40

Some applications have their own shortcuts:

  • iTunes: ⌘ Cmd+⌥ Opt+1
  • Messages: ⌘ Cmd+0 (for the Messages window); ⌘ Cmd+1 (for Buddies list)
  • Calendar: ⌘ Cmd+0
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If you could expand your list that would be great. – Deesbek Nov 20 '13 at 8:47
Alas, these are the only ones I've found so far. The "problem" with web browsers (the other commonly used app for which I wish there were a simple shortcut) is that you can have multiple windows, which means the app wouldn't know which to pull up in the case of multiple minimized windows. I suppose the same principle holds for apps like those in MS Office. – xfactorial Dec 3 '13 at 23:28

You can launch the application again to display the last minimised windows. For example, if you minimise Safari, clicking the Safari icon in the dock or launching it via Spotlight will un-minimise the last minimised window.

I've only checked this with the 5 apps I have open but it works in each of them.

I guess you could write an applescript to perform this function and assign it to an keyboard shortcut.

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Depending on how your keyboard is set in system preferences, the shortcut to focus the dock may be Ctrl + Fn + F3.

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I have found the answers to this question helpful for this as well.

For an easy way to invoke App Expose to get at minimized windows for current app use Cmd-Down; Down; Enter.

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A couple of caveats about the alt/option option:

1) You must switch to another app and let it take focus first. In other words, you can't just (shift-/)command-tab to another app and before actually selecting that app (by releasing command-tab), switch right back to your minimized app which you might do if you minimized by accident or just simply changed your mind shortly after minimizing.

2) Both the command and left alt/option keys must be pressed on the same side of the keyboard.

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-1: should be a comment – Blacklight Shining Jan 17 '13 at 13:26

I use OS X El Capitan

Cmd M is minimize and then press Cmd L works

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Yeah CMD + L doesn't really seem to work. – JMY1000 Jul 3 at 22:22

Command + L to restore minimize application :)

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