Cmd+tab is like the task switcher in Windows, except it only pulls the menu bar up for the application, and not the application itself.

Q: How do I switch between applications such that the application is visible?

  • 2
    Unlike Windows, OSX doesn't require windows to be open for an application to continue running. So when you hit 'x' on (most) applications it will leave just a menu bar with zero open windows.
    – George P
    Aug 22, 2011 at 19:50
  • I pressed the minimize button, not the 'x'. Aug 22, 2011 at 20:07
  • cmd - tab doesn't show minimized windows Aug 23, 2011 at 6:05

2 Answers 2


If you're asking what I think you're asking, cmd+` will usually cycle between application windows within a single application.

It's also possible you have no application windows open, and you're just getting a menu bar.

Also, this should probably be in the superuser stackexchange.

  • I've got Finder and Xcode open, and I can't navigate to either of them using the keyboard.
    – cf_PhillipSenn
    Aug 22, 2011 at 19:51
  • Do have any windows open in either of them? Aug 22, 2011 at 20:00
  • Yes, I have windows open in Xcode, but not Finder. Aug 22, 2011 at 20:07
  • Ah, I see from your above comment that you've minimized a window. I can't test this now, but it seems that pressing cmd+tab until you've selected the application and then pressing option while releasing will restore the last minimized window. Other than that, I don't know of any way to restore minimized windows. I honestly don't minimize things on OS X very often for exactly this reason. Aug 22, 2011 at 20:24

The application switching process is nearly the same as on Windows (& step 5 is optional :-):

  1. Command+Tab to your application.
  2. Release Tab, but keep holding Command.
  3. Press Option (which in Mac-Speak is the same as Alt).
  4. Release Command.
  5. Make smarmy comment about how things are simpler on a Mac.
  • I've used MacOS X since the beginning, and even I didn't know this trick to show hidden windows. Simpler? Maybe. Intuitive? Not in this case. :)
    – ghoppe
    Aug 22, 2011 at 23:42
  • That's bizarre. Why go through all that when you can just command-H to hide an app and then have it appear automatically when you command-tab to it?
    – NReilingh
    Aug 23, 2011 at 1:14

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