The power of a blog that people actually read is amazing :) Within 10 minutes of that last post, I have a solution that solves pretty much all of the issues I was having with Command+Tab.

Witch (http://www.petermaurer.de/nasi.php?section=witch) looks to be exactly what I was looking for in terms of switching between windows rather than applications. It allows me to cycle through windows instead of applications and can order the items in terms of most recently used window instead of per-application (it’s default). It doesn’t show non visible windows like Quicksilver and Adium in the dock and it can zoom and minimise right from the Alt+Tab screen.

The only thing I can’t seem to do is make it replace Command+Tab. In the keyboard shortcuts system preferences panel, I can see the shortcut for cycle between windows Command+` but I can’t see one for cycle between applications, and when setting the shortcut for Witch when I try and press Command+Tab, of course it switches applications rather than setting the shortcut.

Thanks very much to Ton who left this recommendation in my comments.

There seems to be a small bug with Witch when you have it configured to cycle through windows in window use order. This works fine between windows in different applications but switching back and forth between the topmost two windows in the same application does not seem to select the correct window. I will e-mail the author and see if he can reproduce it.

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17 responses to “Witch

  1. I think I have another idea for cycling through all the windows. Go to Keyboard & Mouse Preferene Pane and try customizing an item named “Move focus to the active or next window.” You should be able to cycle through all windows, regardless of their applications with this.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Unfortunately Witch can’t take over Command+Tab. Peter explains it in the Help files:

    Q: Why is it not possible to use [Command]-[Tab] as a shortcut?
    A: Mac OS X reserves [Command]-[Tab] for its built-in application switcher. While there is a way to capture [Command]-[Tab], doing so requires tricking Mac OS X into believing that Witch is the Dock. (The Dock is responsible for Mac OS X’s application switcher.) I’m still undecided as to whether it’s a good idea to use this “hack”.

    Personally I don’t mind: I use Command+Tab for the occasional quick switch of apps and Alt+Tab for a quick switch of windows (and apps) most of the time.

  3. mao:
    I dont see that option in my preference pane, which tab do you see it on?

  4. Oh, sorry. It’s in the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab.

    Pardon my oversight :)

  5. Didn’t know whether to put this in this post or the other one – here should do.

    There’s a great app switcher utility called Liteswitch – http://www.proteron.com/liteswitchx/ which is very similar to the Apple implimentation in that it shows applications rather than windows, but has one feature which makes it that little bit more usefull – all those inactive applications that seem to get in the way can be activated by selecting them. Need a new Finder window? Just Command-Tab to it and a new window will be created. Same with most apps too.

    I use it in combination with Witch to get the full effect – ative windows on Alt-Tab and open applications on Command-Tab.

  6. The real power of LIteSwich (LS) is drawn from its various, powerful shortcuts:

    The classics:

    Apple + q = quit application (actualy doesn’t quit the app immediately, but puts a red cross over it and quits when you leave LS, great if you change your mind about closing an app)
    Apple + w = close window
    Apple + h = hide application

    The others:

    Apple + x = quit application immediatly
    Apple + o = hide all other applications

    The great ones:

    Apple + r = restart application
    Apple + f, f = force quit application
    Apple + f, r = force quit and restart application

    LS is a very nice tool, it has some shortcommings, though. Especially LS does not show the small notifications on icons (e.g. new mail in Mail.app, unread news i NetNewsWire) like the Dock and default Apple + tab does. Hopefully this will be solved.

  7. One thing you may not know about the command-tab function is that if you hit command-shift-tab, you reverse the cycle direction, which can be quite handy when you have a lot of apps running.

    Check out this site for endless information about the crazy world of Mac keyboard shortcuts.

  8. Thanks for the LS tip, unfortunately the individual windows being exposed by Witch is perfect for me and any replacement would need to do that :)

  9. If you are simply looking to switch between windows in a foremost application, you can use command + [~]. It is quite helpful, as it also acts as a reverse in the command + tab menu.

  10. Also, as to Quicksilver, there is an option in the application preferences that allows you to hide it from the dock and menubar. Once hidden, it no onger appears in the command+tab menu.

  11. I assign Fn (only Fn, no other than that) to Expose on my MacbookPro. When swtiching app, hold Fn and use the trackpad :-) to select the target app, then leave the key. This requires BOTH hands but when you’re opening a lot of app or windows, if you do switching too quick (always in a hurry likely), you can often overshoot or the other with “cycling key” sequence. With this method, you won’t miss. Just give a try for once :-)

  12. Someone beat me to it. You should change the settings in Quicksilver so it no longer appears in the dock. It’s really nice that way.

  13. No reply from the Witch author yet and the bug is making it hard to love even though the theory of it is so perfect :)

    I am curently using Command+Tab and Command+~ and I have turned off the icon for QuickSilver. Maybe I will learn to love it this way before Witch gets fixed :)

  14. @haj:

    I tried this, doesn’t Expose coming in every time you hit Fn to actually do a Fn (like Fn+Delete for deleting) drive you crazy? It lasted about 15 seconds before I removed the shortcut for me ;)

  15. Isn’t delete Command + Del? Well, the thing is, I barely use functions keys as function keys (F1, F2, etc) and use strictry as hardware buttons (LCD brightness, volume etc) and for Expose I need only “show all windows” to swtich windowns so I’m ok with the setup :-)

  16. There’s a kbd shortcut built into OS X that allows you to effectively cmd-tab through the windows of the frontmost app…buggered if I can remember what it is tho and I only found out about it recently :S

  17. Ok, just read it in the comments on the previous post [cmd]+[`] DOH!