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Coming from the Windows world, I was initially used to using Cmd-Tab to switch between open windows. On OS X this switches between applications, so I had to learn to use Ctrl-` to switch between windows in an application. However, even this doesn't seem to switch to minimized windows and (for better or worse) I am in the habit of minimizing windows. The only way I have found to unminimize them is to long-click on the icon in the dock and select the window I want, which is annoying. Is there a key combination I can use which will switch between windows and unminimize them at the same time, or any related keys which would help?

I am using OS X 10.8.

4 Answers 4

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I'm from the same boat;

the best native keyboard-only I've found is

  1. CTRL-DOWN-Arrow; (you enter app expose)
  2. DOWN-arrow; (if there are any minimized windows, this'll put a cursor on one)
  3. LEFT-arrow/RIGHT-arrow (to select from multiple minimized windows) or hold OPT if you want all of them restored.
  4. RETURN

alternative step1: getting into app expose before you've alt-cmd'ed to an app:

with CMD still held down, (the task switcher is visible) tap DOWN, or UP, or 1 (now in app expose)


The above shows only one app's minimized windows at a time; for selecting from any minimized window regardless of app, CTRL-F3 moves focus to the dock, and you can arrow left to get to the minimized list.

if your CTRL-F3 instead shows you the app-expose, try FN-CTRL-F3. (In my settings/keyboard, I've flagged "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys")


Some apps have specific alternatives; I use Terminal's CMD-window_number, which unminimizes and focuses that window.

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  • Using this technique one can easily follow the same path with gestures
    – Benjamin
    Dec 16, 2013 at 8:59
  • nice find and summary Feb 21, 2019 at 20:33
6

Take a look at tip #10 on http://www.macworld.com/article/2048857/10-tips-for-managing-minimized-windows.html -- that did it for me.

Essentially, you use ⌘ Cmd+Tab/~ as usual, and for minimized windows, hold down the ⌥ Opt key before releasing the ⌘ Cmd key, and the application opens as you last minimized it.

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  • 3
    This works, but seems very clumsy to me; I have to know it was minimised (which isn't obvious from the Cmd-Tab window), and the keychord isn't exactly easy to manage either. Thanks though :) Mar 7, 2014 at 20:28
  • 1
    I either can't get this to work on El Capitan, or can't follow what it's trying t say. May 29, 2016 at 10:18
3

If you want to unminimize ALL windows (not just from one application), you can create the following Automator service and assign it a hot key.

In Automator, create new service

Give it one action: Run Shell Script

The shell script is this:

killall -HUP Dock

This will kill the Dock process (which will then respawn), in the process liberating all windows that have been minimized into the Dock.

enter image description here

Save the service, then use System Preferences to assign a shortcut key to the service.

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  • I tried this manually in the terminal killall -HUP Docker and it did not work as described. I'm running Mojave macOS 10.14.6. It's been 7 years since this answer was posted, so maybe the OS behavior has changed since then. Sep 14, 2020 at 6:05
  • "Docker" isn't the same as "Dock"
    – Daniel
    Sep 14, 2020 at 18:49
  • 1
    That said, it appears that restarting the Dock process indeed does not maximize minimized windows anymore. Alas.
    – Daniel
    Sep 14, 2020 at 18:52
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Witch includes minimized windows by default. You can also assign shortcuts for showing only minimized windows and unminimizing windows.

You could also assign a shortcut to a script like this:

tell application (path to frontmost application as text)
    try
        set miniaturized of windows to false -- most applications
    end try
    try
        set collapsed of windows to false -- at least Finder
    end try
end tell

If minimizing windows to application icons is not enabled, this clicks the icon for the last minimized window in the Dock:

try
    tell application "System Events" to tell process "Dock"
        click (last UI element of list 1 where role description is "minimized window dock item")
    end tell
end try
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  • 1
    This doesn't really seem to work. Using Witch's default Window Cycle key includes minimized windows in the list, but doesn't actually unminimize them when you switch to them. Jan 8, 2013 at 9:24

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