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Windows Flip Tricks

Keyboard shortcuts are great timesavers to manage, arrange, and to switch between active windows in Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. Find out how to quickly switch between your open windows and active programs with just a few keystrokes.

Windows Flip (Alt + Tab)

For years, the keyboard combination of [Alt] + [Tab] has been an easy switch between open windows without touching your mouse. When you press [Tab] while holding down the [Alt] key, a floating palette displays the icons of running programs. Keep holding down the [Alt] key and each time you press [Tab] again, you highlight the next icon. When you release the keys, the highlighted program jumps to the front so you can work with it. This keyboard shortcut works with all versions of Windows.

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Tricks with Alt + Tab:

  • Add [Shift] to move backward.
  • Add the [Ctrl] key to lock the display, so you don’t have to keep the [Alt] key held down. Just tab to the icon you want, then press [Spacebar] or [Enter] to select the active icon.
  • Here’s one of the handiest ways to use this shortcut: If you just tap [Alt] + [Tab] without holding down the [Alt] key, you get an effect that’s often even more useful. You jump back and forth between the last two windows you’ve had open. It’s great when, for example, you’re copying information from one window to another.

Windows Aero Flip 3D

This Windows trick works with Windows 7 or Windows Vista but not in XP. If your computer can run Aero (the default interface with see-through windows), you can use Flip 3D, a sort of 3D version of the [Alt] + [Tab] shortcut. With this shortcut, Windows shrinks all program windows so they all fit on the screen. You flip through them in a stack of 3D screens to find the window you want.

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To activate Flip 3D:

  1. Press the Windows Logo key + [Tab] to "Flip" between the open windows.
    (The Windows Logo key is usually between the [Ctrl] and [Alt] keys at the left of the [Spacebar] and has a flying flag or Windows logo on top. See link at end of these tips for a full handout of Windows shortcut.)
  2. If you keep your finger on the Windows Logo key, you will see a 3-dimensional display of your open windows.
  3. Next, navigate through the deck of windows with one of these techniques:
  • Tap the [Tab] key repeatedly. Add the [Shift] key to move backward through the stack. When the window you want is in front, release the key. The 3-D stack vanishes, and the important window appears before you at full size.
  • Turn your mouse’s scroll wheel toward you. Roll it away to move backward.

>>Grab your own copy of Windows keyboard shortcuts

Persistent 3D Flip

Windows 7 also includes a variation of Aero Flip called Persistent 3D Flip. This is a handy shortcut which eliminates the need to keep holding down keys.

To use Persistent 3D Flip:

  1. Press the Windows Logo key + [Ctrl] + [Tab] or press the Flip 3D key (shown above) on your keyboard if it has one (with 3 layered rectangles/windows). Not surprising, you’ll find this key on many Microsoft brand keyboards.
  2. Release the Windows Logo key and [Ctrl] and the Flip choices stay in place.
  3. To flip through the open windows without having to hold down any keys:
  • Use the arrow keys, or
  • Press [Tab] to navigate through each window, or
  • Use your mouse’s scroll wheel.
  • Press [Enter] or the [Esc] key to maximize the selected window.

Add these tips and shortcuts to your work with Windows.

© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro® and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist (MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.

This article and more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with copyright and attribution.
>>Learn more about how easy it is to share these valuable tips, tricks, and techniques.

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