I'm used to having Alt-Tab set to cycle forward through the windows of a single app and Shift-Alt-Tab to go backwards. I had this working on Yosemite by fiddling with the shortcuts in System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts.

But after upgrading to El Capitan, it is only Finder that responds to these commands, no other Apps, although they have not assigned this shortcut for something else.

Is there a way to enable this behaviour on El Capitan for all apps?

  • Possible duplicate of Best app to switch between all open windows
    – Allan
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 15:41
  • Unfortunately, none of these third-party solutions are what I'm looking for. On Yosemite one could make do without them.
    – oarfish
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 16:17
  • By default - alt and tab shifts the keyboard focus within the frontmost window - the one with focus for the keyboard. It has nothing to do with app switching. Command + Tab switches between apps that run. Can you make a new user account and re-verify that you haven't made some custom changes to keyboard shortcuts? It sounds like that's the case since what you report doesn't match how the OS comes out of the box at 10.11.
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 16:52
  • @bmike I realized that now it works with Finder as expected (not sure what changed), but other apps do not respond to alt-tab at all, although I can't see that they have somehow overridden it. This is a fresh install, so no changes to the user account have been made.
    – oarfish
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 17:59

2 Answers 2


I am not sure I understand your problem. The functionality is there and works as expected. Go to System Preferences / Keyboard / Shortcuts / Keyboard and choose whatever key combination you want for switching windows in Move focus to next window setting, say Alt+Tab. This will switch application windows forward and Shift+Alt+Tab will switch application windows in reverse order, which is exactly what you wanted. The reverse order functionality is already implied by the Shift key and you don't need to set it separately. Mind you that if you choose combination that already includes the Shift key for forward order it will not imply the shortcut for reverse order without the Shift key.

  • There is nothing to move to the previous window.
    – Allan
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 17:01
  • A move to previous window is whatever you set as a shortcut to next window+Shift key.
    – boris42
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 17:03
  • Well you are correct w r t Finder, but it does not seem to work with all apps anymore, e.g. Safari or Chrome.
    – oarfish
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 17:58
  • I can confirm that it fully works with Safari 9.1.1, Chrome 51.0.2704.106, TextEdit, Preview, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and others on OS X El Capitan 10.11.5. I'm guessing that it will work for any Mac OS X application that follows recommended Apple Mac App design guidelines. That being said, apps that feature full screen mode and tabbed windows exhibit different behaviours.
    – boris42
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 20:13
  • It must have been some other problem that caused this functionality to break for me. Unfortunately I do not remember what I did to fix it.
    – oarfish
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 11:50

This is my solution.

First I remap keys like this to simulate the Windows ctrl+C and ctrl+V shortcuts:

enter image description here

and then I use HyperSwitch like this

enter image description here

  • How do you get to the first screen to re-map?
    – Danijel
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 11:45

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