Mac OSX Application Switcher Shortcut Key Tips

Mac OSX Application Switcher shortcut keyHere’s a brief tutorial on how to quickly swap between applications on your Mac.

If you’re like me, the Command + Tab keys are worn on your keyboard from swapping apps. Pressing that key combo calls up the icons for all of the running apps across your screen.  Holding down Command and repeatedly pressing the Tab key will rotate through and highlight your open apps.  Releasing the keys will switch to the highlighted app.

Holding the Command key and pressing Esc will take you out of the switcher and return you to the app you were in originally.

Want more?  Okay.  Command + Tab and hold the Command key.  Now you can use your mouse to hover directly over the app you want to switch to and release.  Alternatively, the left and right arrow keys will cycle though the apps as well.  One annoyance I’ve noticed is that the arrow keys no longer wrap from the last app to the first and vice versa.  Eh.

Still here?  Want to quickly quit an app without switching to it?  Command + Tab, hold down Command. Highlight the app you want to quit.  Still holding Command, press “Q”.  Goodnight little app.  If you’re still holding Command, you can quit a bunch of apps in succession with “Q” without switching to any of them.  Slick.

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  • Joey Yax

    I didn’t know about quitting apps from there. Thanks!

    I found that using command + ~ (tilde) while in the application switcher will allow you to move backwards through the apps one by one… and this one does wrap when you reach the end, unlike the left/right buttons.

    The scroll wheel on your mouse also works for moving back and forth.

  • lantianer

    and while still holding command, pressing ‘h’ will hide the selected app :)

  • lantianer

    what I want to know, though, is how do you modify these keyboard shortcuts? I’m sooo used to pressing command-tilde to go backwards, but have a new Mac with a European keyboard and the tilde key has been moved to an awkward spot, while a key with u00a7 and u00b1 has taken its placeu2026and it doesn’t go backwards!

  • Mschneider15

    Is there a way to make it stick to your desktop, thought I saw it done in an apple store once where it was just there on the desktop

  • Dayn

    I’m not sure about that one, sorry! Maybe it was just aliases with a creative use of the desktop background image? Here’s a list of 9 app launchers to try: