I am coming from ubuntu. In Mac i notice that multiple browser windows or finder windows don't show up independently in task bar or task switcher. This is causing problems in many operations. Is there any switch to activate ungrouped windows?


6 Answers 6


I believe that you should try to adapt to a different workflow:

  1. You could press +` to cycle all the windows of the same application.
    Note: this is not the apostrophe key, it's the backtick key.
    Non-shifted tilde ~ left of z on a UK keyboard, left of 1 on US.
  2. Try App Exposé:
    • Trackpad
      System Preferences → Trackpad → More Gestures → App Exposé to configure your preferred gesture.
    • Keyboard
      Press F10

I understand this is not a precise answer to your question, but I believe that switching from Win/Linux to Mac OS, involves some adaptation.

  • 1
    It kills me that command+apostrophe does not work to switch between open tabs in most apps. Using command+shift+bracket is just stupid. Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 12:22
  • Unfortunately switching between tabs doesn't have an uniform shortcut usually.
    – Carlo
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 13:23
  • 4
    adapting to a different workflow doesn't really work when you're trying to get two different apps up at the same time. you have to cmd-tab to an app (which brings up ALL of its windows since they're grouped) before you can command-backtick.
    – worc
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 22:05
  • For those who can't tell the difference 1. is not the apostrophe key, it's the backtick key. Unshifted tilde, left of z on a UK keyboard, left of 1 on US.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 9:45
  • This doesn't answer the question and isn't helpful Commented Mar 20 at 9:37

I think almost everyone here is missing the point. The question really has nothing to do with key bindings. It is completely centered around application 'grouping' and the granularity in which you can select an application. Having keyboard access to the individual windows is a secondary issue -- once the apps are accessible individually then we can hope for some key sequence to access each one quickly.

I have been a Windows user since Windows was invented and a developer even longer so I understand the massive numbers of windows and the desire for keyboard access. Every day I have a number of VMs open, usually 5 Chrome profiles open with as many as a a hundred or 2 tabs each, etc, etc....
So let me screenshot a small example on Windows:

  • applications-grouped-on-taskbar-in-windows This is Grouped. See that each application is shoved into a pigeon hole (except Chrome which somehow lets you get around that).

  • ungrouped-taskbar-on-windows This is UN-Grouped. Notice that there is now a separate item/icon for each copy of an application.

I have had those same Chrome profiles pinned in the same position for years now and it is a dream to be able to click back and forth without thinking which is which, and with only ONE click, or even Alt+Tab between them.

I believe this is what the OP desires on the Mac.

With the MBP the boss decided I should have, none of that seems possible. I have to Right-Click, go up and find the profile I need, and click again. As far as I can tell, even using Cmd+Tab cannot granular enough for this. Thus making it impossible to flip back and forth quickly - which I do constantly...... Constantly!!!!!

One option I found

is to disable the Minimize windows into application icon option in Dock and Menu Bar Settings:


Then [only when items are minimized] you can access them individually:

Frankly, in difference to another comment here, I find the Group windows by application in Mission Control settings a bit helpful. At least by opening the Mission Control view, the apps are close together and named rather than being strewn all over the screen.


Compared to the (contrived but realistic) ungrouped chaos:

Finally - to my answer

Currently, I have settled on the app called AltTab: https : / / alt-tab-macos . netlify . app Notice here that multiple copies of apps are separated: AltTab-Demo The apps are in order of last usage -- making it very simple to jump back and fourth between windows - no matter what app they belong to.

It has a lot of options for your own likings: (I don't have enough rep to post another screenshot)

And even better, a secondary hotkey is like an alt-tab for the current app. (I used Alt+`) Alt-tick-Demo

THAT is really Cool !

You can even Close, Minimize, Maximize the windows directly from there.

  • 2
    +1 for at least understanding the question :) Also interesting solutions, though not exactly what asked for
    – Gavriel
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 13:00
  • 1
    @thomas-oatman Man, how did I live all those years without knowing about the AltTab app!! You made my day.
    – Dr_Zaszuś
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 10:22
  • AltTab just made my macos server usage much easier, thanks!
    – RobertPro
    Commented Feb 19 at 23:59

I found that going to System Preferences -> Mission Control -> Then untick "Group windows by application"

Then using F3 shows all open windows. You still have to use the mouse to select, but I'd be surprised if that's not fast enough.

Also, leverage CMD + H for hiding applications you aren't using so when you press F3, there are fewer windows confusing your selection.

  • 4
    this doesn't solve the issue if you're using the keyboard.
    – worc
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 22:07
  • Use Cmd + ~ to switch between windows of an application. As long as they are not minimized.
    – MDJCM
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 11:48
  • switching between windows with cmd+~ has a huge drawback: you do not see the window you are switching to. also when switching with cmd+tab to an app with multiple windows the focused window will always be the first that was open, so you need to switch with cmd+tab and cmd+~ every time
    – anydoby
    Commented Oct 6, 2020 at 8:18

You can choose an individual window by either right-clicking, Ctrl-clicking, or clicking and holding on an application's icon in the Dock (task bar) and selecting from the menu.

  • 3
    mouseless actions. mouse is slowest device for a developer (i think)
    – thevikas
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 12:57
  • @thevikas - unless you're using a one-handed keyboard :)
    – MattDMo
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 13:29
  • :) even eclipse shortcuts to switch editor windows don't work anymore like in ubuntu.
    – thevikas
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 13:36
  • @thevikas If you go to Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Keyboard and select Keyboard Shortcuts, you can change shortcuts for the whole system as well as for individual applications. Customize away! See this answer for some details...
    – MattDMo
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 15:05
  • but... i don't think an action exists to ungroup to bind a keyboard shortcut to. what good is customizing your shortcuts if the action doesn't even exist?
    – worc
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 22:09

I think best solution for us is to bind keys for switching entire desktops in mission control. That way you can at least do something similar to this. But once you have 2 windows on same desktop you definitively need a mouse or complicated keybindings with more then 1 hit.


You can get app switchers like Witch which add the Windows way of switching between Windows in different apps like Microsoft Windows does see this question or this

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