How to fix annoying Alt + Tab behavior in Windows 7

Probably the #1 most useful shortcut in Windows has always been Alt + Tab, Tab, Tab, which lets you switch quickly from one running program to another to another. But for some reason, Microsoft nearly ruined it in Windows 7. If you hesitate for a few seconds with your thumb on the Alt key after pressing Tab once or twice, the pop-up window that shows the list of running programs disappears, and you see one of the programs. And then you can’t prevent it from happening. Microsoft actually considers this a feature! They call it “Aero Peek”.

Here’s how to disable it and make Alt + Tab work like it did in previous versions:

  1. Press Windows key + Pause/Break to display System Properties.
  2. Click Advanced System Settings on the left.
  3. In the Advanced tab, in the Performance section, click Settings (i.e. the first Settings button).
  4. This displays the Performance Options dialog. In the Visual Effects tab, deselect Enable Aero Peek.
    Performance Options dialog
  5. Click OK twice to close the two dialog boxes, then close the System Properties dialog.

An alternative is to completely ignore this and use the Windows key + Tab shortcut, instead. It presents you with a 3-D stack of windows that you can cycle through. It looks cooler than the Alt + Tab window, but I often find it hard to tell which window is which.



9 thoughts on “How to fix annoying Alt + Tab behavior in Windows 7”

  1. Thanks!

  2. Mathias March 31, 2017

    Saved my life, at least my sanity. Thanks!

  3. michael April 4, 2017

    Great value, thank you Bob!

  4. Brian Bates February 23, 2018

    Wish I’d discovered this before. The W7 Alt Tab behaviour has wasted so much of my time over the years when I used to be able to just switch to the application I wanted.

    It wouldn’t be quite so bad if after Aero Peek it brought back the original display, but the switch to paging through transparent-ish windows in the semi-chaotic way it does means I almost never get back to the correct app/window first time. (Sometimes, such as with Excel, it doesn’t even show you the correct title bar on the Aero Peek view so if you have several very similar spreadsheets open, you can’t even tell which one is being “peeked”).

    I had thought it was just me getting old, but this “Aero Peek” (never knew it had a name) has to be one of the most useless and confusing “features” that MS ever came up with.

    Thank you

    • Bob Flisser April 16, 2018

      Glad you found it useful! Always happy to help.

  5. oh yeah baby, my alt tab function works like I’m back on my P.C. with windows 95 in 1998, the good old days. Thanks Bob !

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