How to Use the App Switcher in Windows 8.1 - dummies

How to Use the App Switcher in Windows 8.1

By Peter Weverka, Mark Justice Hinton

The app switcher in Windows 8.1 lets you save some time and effort by switching directly between open apps (without going to the Start screen).

  1. Start the Weather app, and then start the Travel app.

  2. Switch back to the Start screen.

  3. Use one of the following methods to display the app switcher, which shows thumbnails for open apps, and switch to the Weather app:

    • Mouse: Place the pointer in the upper-left corner of the screen. Don’t click. When a thumbnail appears, move the mouse pointer down until the app switcher appears. Click the Weather thumbnail.

    • Touchscreen: Slowly swipe from the left edge of the screen, and then swipe back to the left edge without lifting your finger. Tap the Weather thumbnail.

    • Keyboard: Hold down the Windows key, and press and release the Tab key to display the app switcher. Press Tab until the Weather thumbnail is highlighted. Then release both keys.

      When you quickly press and release both the Windows key and Tab, the app switcher appears briefly. When you instead hold down the Windows key and press and release Tab, the app switcher remains on the screen, and you can keep pressing Tab to select different thumbnails.

      Release the Windows key to switch to the highlighted app. If you press Windows+Ctrl+Tab — a test of your dexterity — the app switcher stays on-screen without you having to hold down any keys. Then you can press Tab to select the thumbnail you want and Enter or the space bar to switch to that app. (That may be more than you wanted to know, but it’s literally handy.)


      Thumbnails appear for Weather and Travel apps. You may notice the Start button at the bottom of the app switcher. No thumbnail appears for the app you are using when you display the app switcher.

You can switch between two apps without seeing the app switcher. The app switcher comes in handy when you want to see thumbnails for several open apps at once.