I used to switch windows using win+1..9 on windows 7. Now switching to mac, i wonder if is there any equivalent feature in snow leopard? Or maybe there exist some third-party application support that?

6 Answers 6


There are quite a few commands which let you do this in Mac OS X:

Cmd+Tab for switching applications
Cmd+` for switching windows within applications
F3/F9 for Exposé (shows all windows in a graphical way, on trackpads you can do a 4-finger swipe down)
F10 for showing windows of a specific application in Exposé
F11 for showing desktop and shoving all other windows to the side, on a trackpad its 4 finger swipe up

There is also Spaces which is like having multiple desktops, where you can switch to and fro. You can enable it in the Exposé & Spaces prefrence pane in System Preferences and suit the keyboard shortcuts to you liking

  • I'm a big fan of Spaces and use Ctrl-number to switch between them just as you're doing in Win 7. May 17, 2011 at 1:03
  • I'm sorry but I'd greatly appreciate it if you could tell me where is the ` key located.. (Fisical keyboard is in english but my layout is in spanish :S)
    – Ignacio
    Jun 16, 2011 at 19:19
  • The key you're looking for is to the right of the number 1 key on my MPB keyboard and my Logitech keyboard for my iMac.
    – bg2011
    Jul 21, 2011 at 7:16

I don't think that either Expose or Spaces quite do the job well. I bought and use Witch, from Many Tricks. It allows you to switch not only between applications (as you would using Command-Tab), but also between different windows of each application.

I like the way that Witch gives me preview windows for each application's windows, and that it is fully Spaces-aware. It has a ridiculous amount of options to fine-tune its behavior to your liking. Well worth the $14 US for me.


Optimal Layout, an app I developed, lets you start typing in the name of the app/window/tab you want to switch to - this is a really fast way to switch windows if you are a touch typist.


If you want a quick simple way of switching apps from a list, try out contexts, reminds me of dmenu from Linux.

I like that its minimal, keyboard friendly, focus is on text, not thumbnails.

contexts screenshot

  • See alt-tab as well this isopen source.
    – Att Righ
    Jul 30, 2022 at 18:16

hold command and press tab and it will switch between apps

also in system preferences see expose and spaces you can set these up to uses f-keys or use buttons on mouse or set hot corners

  • 1
    and command + ~ to go the other way May 16, 2011 at 19:11
  • @michaelmichael that actually cycles the windows of the current app for me. nice shortcut
    – mcgrailm
    May 16, 2011 at 19:14
  • i should've specified, command + ~ goes the other way when you're still in the application switcher. keep holding command and tap tab to go forward, ~ to go backward. you're right, though. it does cycle through windows at any other time. May 16, 2011 at 19:27
  • With command + shift + tab the switcher opens from the last application used and you can also navigate back by holding shift. I got used to it and might be more comfortable than ~, but it's personal, I guess. Just hitting command + tab brings you right to the last window you used. From my experience with the most things you do you won't use more than three applications, so the default switcher is pretty fast and accurate.
    – Patrick
    May 16, 2011 at 20:19
  • You can also use the mouse to select an app when you're in the Cmd+Tab menu.
    – styfle
    May 17, 2011 at 3:51

I haven't used Win7 but I guess you are asking about Expose. F9 key or Four finger swipe down on trackpad that shows all the window and select the one you want to switch to.

you may find the F10 key useful if you want to see all windows of an application.

Edit: The keyboard shortcuts are from external standard keyboard. Apple keyboards have special keys, F3 & Cmd + F3 or Fn + F3

  • 2
    For newer keyboards it's F3 and Command + F3 ;)
    – dertkw
    May 16, 2011 at 18:05

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