Windows XP Misc

Change the Alt+Tab Layout to Show More Icons

SUMMARY: Change how Windows XP displays open windows when pressing Alt+Tab to show more icons onscreen simultaneously.

When you press Alt+Tab in Windows XP and keep the Alt key held down, an icon display of open windows / applications appears in the middle of the screen along with the title bar of the selected window. You can press Tab to select the next window or Shift+Tab to select the previous one. Release the Alt key and Windows XP switches to said window.

If you have more than 21 windows open, not all will be displayed onscreen simultaneously. You can still hit Tab and Shift+Tab to scroll through all of the windows, but what if you want to display more of them onscreen at once?

The default Alt+Tab layout in Windows XP, showing a maximum of 21 icons onscreen simultaneously

The following tip involves modifying the Windows Registry and could cause problems with your machine.

Standard disclaimers apply.

1. Open the Windows Registry Editor. Click the "Start" button, select "Run", and execute regedit.exe.

2. Navigate to the following key: My Computer \ HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Control Panel \ Desktop.

3. In the right pane you should see CoolSwitchColumns and CoolSwitchRows. Their values, defaults of 7 and 3 respectively, determine how many columns and rows of icons are displayed onscreen simultaneously when pressing Alt+Tab.

Double-click the values to modify them as desired, but make sure to use numbers that allow the icons to still fit onscreen.

4. Close the Registry Editor when done.

5. Save all open files, then logout and log back in or restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

A modified Alt+Tab layout in Windows XP, showing a maximum of 40 icons onscreen simultaneously

Return to the Windows XP Misc page.

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The MalekTips website was created in 1998 by of Envision Programming. The page's goal is to freely disperse computer-related tips, hints, and informative articles. Tips are organized to be easy to find, and are presented clearly, in easy-to-understand language.