Switching between open applications and documents

My friend Mara emailed me last week asking how to switch between documents on her computer using the keyboard.

Switching between applications or documents on your computer is dead-easy if you stick to using your mouse. Just click the thing you want and you’ll get it. If you have multiple documents open in a piece of software, like Word, you can use the Window menu to show a list of those open documents.

Those of us who prefer keyboard shortcuts know that holding down a button and pressing Tab cycles through applications and documents.

Command

Mac

Windows

Switch applications Cmd-Tab Alt-Tab
Switch documents within application Cmd-tilde (~) Ctrl-Tab

How you can use this tip

Try an experiment:

  1. Open several different applications (e.g. web browser, word processor, spreadsheet, others).
  2. Open several documents in an application like Word or Excel.
  3. Try the keyboard combinations above and see what happens.
  4. Hold down the Shift key while you use these combinations.

After going through the above steps, does this seem like something you would use?

For comprehensive lists of keyboard shortcuts, check out these pages for:

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