I'm a long time Windows and Linux user giving an old Macbook I brought back to life a fair shake. I'm running Snow Leopard.

One of the frustrations I've had over the past couple weeks is that I can't easily navigate large numbers of windows.

I'm used to alt-tab and the task bar. I'd use alt-tab to go to the most recent windows, and the task bar to go to very old ones.

On MacOS, I've been using command-tab to switch between applications, then command-backtick to switch between active windows, but command-backtick is inconsistent, and command-tab isn't consistent in Firefox with multiple virtual desktops (it seems to take you to the most recent window on the active desktop, rather than the most recent window in the app).

While Expose shows me my three-dozen windows in a neatly tiled, seemingly random mosaic.

Somebody who grew up on Macs might be able to tell me the secret. What am I doing wrong?

  • What is inconsistent about command-`? Also, regarding command-tab and Firefox: What is the state of the checkbox labeled "When switching to an application ..." under System Preferences -> Mission Control? This setting can affect the behavior your experiencing
    – ephsmith
    Jun 26, 2012 at 14:06
  • command-tab takes me to the previous app, but command-` takes me to the next active window (rather than the previous). Does Mission Control exist in Snow Leopard?
    – mgjk
    Jun 26, 2012 at 14:14
  • ahhh. That is precisely what command-` is called in keyboard shortcuts. Try command-shift-` to get the previous window. Using shift with command-tab reverses it's direction as well.
    – ephsmith
    Jun 26, 2012 at 14:17
  • What about your Mission Control settings? I'm still curious about the issue you were having with Spaces (virtual desktops).
    – ephsmith
    Jun 26, 2012 at 14:18
  • I don't seem to have Mission Control. Should I?
    – mgjk
    Jun 26, 2012 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


For the full Windows functionality for switching windows look at Optimal Layout or Witch which both make AltTab switch to all windows.

  • I'm trying a little utility called "window commander" it seems to be designed to do exactly what I'm used to in Windows... sadly, I'd hope that there would be a more mac-like solution for this. Window Commander is glitchy with Spaces and glitchy with cmd-shift-tab, but it gets app order very well. Spaces were a hack for me anyway, a working cmd-tab makes them unnecessary. Expose was less than useless, so it's disabled now too. Thanks for the tip though +1.
    – mgjk
    Jun 27, 2012 at 15:46

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