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I'm on a Mac for the first time in 25 years. It is running macOS Sierra version 10.12.6.

When I press Cmd + Tab on the keyboard, I can cycle through the open applications, but if I Tab and release Cmd key on an app that is minimised, the minimised app won't open.

Is this the normal behaviour?

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  • OK @CJK, add an answer, and I'll accept it. – Steve Mar 29 '18 at 6:31
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    This has always been the standard behaviour on Mac OS X @Steve. To maximise the minimised app when doing Cmd + Tab, press and hold the Option key before letting go the Tab key. Refer to the this answer. – Nimesh Neema Mar 29 '18 at 9:11
  • Could not agree more. I've been programming on Macs for 15+ years now, and this still pisses me off daily. It's related to the stupid insistence on forcing all apps to share a single menu. – Oscar Jul 20 '20 at 0:57
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I am running system version: "10.13.3" and the behaviour is the same. I can't say whether this has always been the case with OS X/macOS, or whether it's a recent development, but it's reasonable to assume there's nothing wrong with your Mac.

The following thread on Reddit corroborates this as standard behaviour, and also offers some alternative solutions from frustrated former-Windows users who recommend hiding apps, rather than minimising them:

How to Command + Tab to minimized or hidden apps?

One user recommends the following:

To improve your Hide functionality, do the following two things in the Terminal. First:

defaults write com.apple.Dock showhidden -bool YES

Then:

killall Dock

Hidden applications' icons will now become translucent in the Dock. I love this feature and I think it should be the default. No idea why it's tucked away like it is.


Another recommends a piece of software called HyperSwitch as an alternative app-switcher, although having just looked at the website, it states that there is no solution for viewing minimised apps just yet. A solid recommendation, then.

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  • You might want to include the command for hiding apps for future Windows users who visit this QA. – Steve Mar 29 '18 at 7:47
  • My HyperSwitch beta "expired" and I'm unsure why. I reached out to support and haven't heard back yet. In the meantime, anyone know of any good alternatives? – EHorodyski Jun 20 '18 at 11:57
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While holding ⌘ and tapping ⇥ to cycle apps, when you get to an app with a minimised window, instead of just releasing ⌘, before releasing ⌘ hold ⌥alt to restore minimised windows.


the minimised app won't open

This is a bit of a misnomer. The app itself is opened (the macOS term is ‘activated’), as shown by the menu bar changing to display the menus for the newly activated app. It is more accurate to say that the minimised window is not opened (restored).

The distinction is important because I use this feature constantly (it really is a feature!). If I minimise a window, that doesn't mean I no longer want to interact with the app in other ways. For example, a common workflow for me is:

  1. Open Finder and work in a Finder window.
  2. Minimise the Finder window since I won't be needing it for a while, but want to keep my assortment of tabs etc.
  3. Work on something else for a bit.
  4. Now I want a Finder window for what I'm working on now. I don't want to restore the Finder window from being minimised, so I'll ⌘⇥ to Finder to activate the application and not restore the window, then ⌘N for a new window.

If you want to switch between apps as a whole, consider taking action on the app rather than a specific window: use the Hide functionality with ⌘H to hide all windows of an app. Then, when ⌘⇥ activates the app, the Show action is performed for you and the windows appear again.

You can always restore minimised windows by holding ⌥ when ⌘⇥.

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    It's a bad user experience and apple really needs to fix it. Without doubt it's the most frustrating thing for me in the whole OS. Every other major operating system opens the available windows when you switch to it – Carson Holzheimer Feb 10 '19 at 5:16
  • the shortcut of satan! – Ulf Gjerdingen Feb 25 '20 at 10:02
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Use AltTab, it is the exact replica of windows functionality of Alt+ Tab. Takes care of both minimised/maximised window

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    Nice! Just installed it under 10.15.6 and it works fine. – Oscar Jul 20 '20 at 1:09

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