How to Switch Tasks Faster in Windows 8

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Task Switcher

If you do even a little bit of multitasking, Windows 8's Switcher menu -- its preferred way of changing tasks --  can be extremely confusing. While the menu of thumbnails that appears on the left side of the screen shows separate tiles for each of your Metro-style Windows  8 apps, it lumps all of your desktop windows into a single thumbnail, no matter how many applications you have open.

If you use Switcher and  want to switch to a program that's running on the desktop, you must navigate back to the desktop and find it there, an extra unnecessary step. Fortunately, you don't need to use Switcher at all, because there are a couple of other ways to change tasks that are much quicker.

ALT + Tab

The good old ALT + Tab keyboard shortcut will show you a menu with every desktop and Windows 8 app on it. You can keep hitting ALT + Tab to select the app you want, but after you've switched apps, the menu disappears.

Dock  the Desktop

 If you are in the Modern UI and you dock the desktop, the dock will contain a list of thumbnails that show all your open desktop apps. Unfortunately, if you want to see a list of open Windows 8 apps, you'll need to open the Switcher so this method still doesn't give you a single unified task menu.

Docked Desktop Shows a List of Open Desktop Apps

More Windows 8 Tips

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • LaRae Says:

    I agree with AngryFrank above. Ease of use GONE, productivity KILLED, consumer really frustrated. Microsoft should offer free downgrades for we victims of this OS.

  • __alex Says:

    Win + Tab

  • Oxnard Says:

    I purchased a new CPU with no option but windows 8, after almost a month of trying to learn the operational features I cannot burn Data DVD to a blank CD,
    for some reason following the instruction in "help" (I still can't burn Data DVD to a blank CD)
    Can someone help me????

  • ejdonaldson Says:

    I think we should all get together and create a class-action suit against Microsoft to get our money back or at least get another version of Windows to download. This whole windows 8 thing is a mess. I thought these guys were supposed to be geniuses. Don't think so now.

  • Dunkar00s Says:

    It's simple really, ever since vista came out, the new way was not, easier and better, it was, hide configuration settings so new users don't take a hold of the os and master it easily. Just like there's a law, you must know the law, but nobody knows the law.

    Hiding important settings, changing the different settings layouts to something complicated but "Modern looking for the next generation and appearance-freaks" etc.

    Even if windows 8 was really just 7 with a cool new shiny theme people would still buy it because they hate feeling outdated.

    Windows 8 is two OS inside of one. Microsoft is trying to kill explorer (the desktop basically). The next big transition in computer technology is the "cloud". But not really the cloud. Basically your harddrive will be on the internet. You wont download a game. You'll play it over the internet. You won't be able to make your pc private and secure because there will be no way to change it. Booting your computer will mean opening your session on their private, unstable, unsecure servers.

    The big corporations are preparing for the next big change. Android and Windows 8 are the worst I've seen so far.

  • Jim Hyland Says:

    I have just purchased new pc with windows 8. I have been using windows xp for past 9 years. I am in my 80's now & concerned about the new procedures to use it with minium fuss. Can some kind person recommend the easiest & best way to proceed. Thank you . Jim H. Australia

  • AngryFrank Says:

    My 2 cents on Windows 8... This is the worst tech item I've ever purchased.
    This is a waste of time OS in a busy, "make it faster" world.
    This OS would be ideal for an iPhone or touchscreen stuff, but NOT for a PC, and definitely NOT for the workplace.
    Don't know what Microsoft was thinking, but this is nothing but utter fail.

  • Mary Ann Says:

    I cannot PRINT a document. Just do not know how.

  • Barry Perreau Says:

    Just noticed and thought about the short version of Windows 8

    W8 or wait if it was a car number plate

    WOndering if M$ meant for me to W8 for the next OS on offer, W8 seems to be a new WIN ME

  • Tee Says:

    I had no choice but to get a machine with W8 because on this island that is all they sell, captive audience. I hate it. Especially how the Yahoo email shows up, you can not even navigate it or log can I fix this to make it appear as it has since its inception? I can not tolerate how it displays on this stupid w8. Thank you

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