I can't switch between windows smoothly. On Windows I could use Ctrl+Tab to scroll through all open Windows and Ctrl+Shift+Tab to scroll in the other direction.

On the Mac, I use Cmd+Tab to scroll through applications and Cmd+` (key above tab) to scroll through open Windows, but this is not intuitive as my mental model is more interested in my task divided into windows than applications.

Is there anyway - I don't mind learning a new key combo and would like some visual representation of where I am (nice to have). Crucially, I want it to be something really simple like the Windows keys that just roll through a bunch of windows, regardless of application.

EDIT: Paying £14 for Witch in order to get this functionality is frankly ridiculous, is there an OSX way of doing it?

  • 1
    Totally agree with you. This is where Apples "think different" means "think as a dumb-ass". Good designer think of what is most intuitive and practical for users.
    – Antonio
    Jun 16, 2020 at 19:02
  • 5
    @AntonioAraujo I sometimes 'think different' means 'think in the way we're training you to think in order to make it hard to use our competitors tools'
    – Toni Leigh
    Jun 18, 2020 at 7:05

6 Answers 6


Another possible option for you is to use Mission Control.

Mission Control shows all windows as overlays on your screen. You can also set your Mission Control preferences (Apple > System Preferences > Mission Control) to group windows by application.

By default you can access Mission Control by pressing the Mission Control key (usually the F3 key - see image below), or pressing the control + ⬆︎ keyboard shortcut, although this may depend on how you've configured your shortcuts in System Preferences.

enter image description here

If you're using a MacBook and/or trackpad you can also access Mission Control by swiping up with three fingers.

For more information you can refer to Use Mission Control on your Mac.

Note: The feedback I've had from users is that it takes a little while to get used to, but that it's well worth persisting. So I recommend you stick with it for a little while to see if it works for you.


A (currently) free option:

  • HyperSwitch - free beta, expiry date has been extended

And more paid options:

Contexts seems the most solid solution at the time of writing.

My Humble Opinion: I tried these apps but always came back to Mission Control + Hot Corner activation. When I want to find a window I move my mouse to the top right corner, all the windows appear on one screen, then I visually select one and click it with my mouse, the desktop comes back with my chosen window activated. Of course, YMMV.

  • 1
    Contexts is awesome. $9.99 gets paid 3 minutes into the demo: life is too short not to jump on solid productivity tools Jul 18, 2019 at 20:08
  • @javadba — ? What demo ? Jan 18, 2020 at 11:45
  • @NicolasBarbulesco the free trial (demo) of Contexts Jan 20, 2020 at 13:31

Witch is an app for switching between windows of any application.

Witch allows you to switch directly between not only applications (as you can do with Command-Tab), but windows as well. Instead of switching applications first, then windows, use Witch to switch directly to your desired window.

  • 8
    Avoiding a £14 fee for this basic functionality would be good if possible
    – Toni Leigh
    Jun 21, 2017 at 12:38
  • 1
    Unfortunately, due to the nature of macOS, switching between two windows using Witch will have a long delay (~0.5s). It is annoying if you really want to quickly switch back and forth between two windows.
    – Louis Yang
    Nov 17, 2018 at 1:50
  • Witch is really useful for its feature of presenting every open window/tab in Safari as a hierarchical menu. I use that often. Sep 17, 2019 at 11:45

Just tried what Timmy Browne implicitely suggested, and I can confirm that on macOS Mojave, apparently you can switch between windows of the same application with Cmd+~ (while switching between applications with the old good Cmd+Tab combination).

  • I'm on Catalina and I use Cmd + ` to switch between windows of an app
    – matthiasbe
    Oct 16, 2019 at 14:33

Windows switches through all open windows regardless of application. Mac switches between all open applications and seperately switches through all open applicatition specific windows.

On Both os's using shift changes the direction.

It's different, but just as intuitive, to switch between tab and tilde as the keys are adjacent. I hated it when i switched, but now greatly prefer this method. It will take a little time to get used to it, but its better than paying 15 bucks to keep the status quo.

Alternatively, mission control has the option to enable and disable grouping windows by application if you go that route. But there is no innate shortcut.

  • 1
    Thanks, @timmy-browne for your suggestion! Apparently Cmd+~ lets me switch between application's windows on macOS Mojave. +1!
    – rmbianchi
    May 31, 2019 at 5:51
  • 2
    <rant>My real issue is the delay involved in figuring out if I need a ~ or a tab. It really slows down my workflow. I've been a mac user for 20+ years and have been waiting for Apple to just have a preference that allows the switch between the two behaviors. For instance, I have two monitors. I have Firefox in one, Chrome + Firefox in the other. Rather than being able to use cmd + tab all the time, I have to carefully determine if I'm in Firefox first and use ~ to get my other window or do I need tab first because I'm currently using Chrome??</rant> Jun 28, 2019 at 0:04

A workaround is move the windows you want to switch between to another desktop, in that desktop every window belongs to a different application.

  • How is this a workaround? This does not in any way change the default keyboard shortcut of ⌘` to switch between an app's windows! Additionally, "in that desktop every window belongs to a different application" is not at all true if one only has the windows of one app open in that Space. This also serves to complicate navigating an app's windows unless all windows of that app are in the same space! The bottom line is, this answer is not an answer or even a reasonable workaround to what the OP is trying to achieve! Jan 18, 2020 at 10:37

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