Mac101 – Application Switcher

On occasion I like to bring some simpler articles on features available in the macOS. Today lets take a look at the Application Switcher. The Application Switcher functionality has been around for a long time in the macOS.


Application Switcher

Yes, you can switch to your open apps from the Dock, but a more elegant and actually faster way is the Application Switcher. You activate the Application Switcher by hold down the Command + Tab keys. When you do that it presents a list of your open applications:

To move through the list just keep hitting the Tab key. When you arrive at the app you are looking for release the keys and that app will come forward. To scroll backward in the list press the Command + Shift + Tab keys. You can also use the mouse to select one of the apps in the list instead of scrolling through with the Tab key which is a little more efficient if you have a ton of apps open.

Why would you use this feature? Well, if you are going back and forth between lots of apps it is much faster than repeatedly going down to the Dock to select something. Also, lets say you are on a laptop and you minimize your Dock to gain all the screen real estate that you can. In that case it is way easier to just use the Application Switcher to move between open applications.

One more thing. Lets say you want to install some software or run a utility like Onyx and need to quit all your running applications. Just activate the Application Switcher and, while holding down the Command key, hit the letter “Q” for quit for each app. Each open app will quit, you will be notified of any docs that need to be saved. Note, this process will stop at the Finder app, but you can just move around the Finder app and start it again to continue.

One more little trick. Activate Application Switcher. Then tab over to an app that has a bunch of windows open like Microsoft Word or perhaps Safari. Then, while holding the Command key down, hit the Up Arrow key (bottom right side of your keyboard) to see a Mission Control view of the windows for that app:



Many power users prefer the Application Switcher to using the Dock or some other system. You may have known of the Application Switcher, but have not used it much. Try it for a few days and see if it will work with your Mac workflow.