In Windows Vista, Microsoft released a new feature called Aero Flip 3D that showcases hardware acceleration. To use it, you must have the appropriate hardware and must also use the Aero theme.
This feature is also stuck in Windows 7 and it can be enabled using Windows key + TAB combination contrary to the standard ALT + TAB combine. If you enjoyed the feature, it was removed in Windows 8 and Windows 10.
The keystroke still works, but it’s something different in Windows 8 and something else in Windows 10! Well, thanks to Microsoft for changing features in every version of Windows!
Anyway, in this article, I will explain to you how Aero Flip 3D works in Windows 7 and how the combination of Windows Key and ALT now works in Windows 8 and Windows 10.
Aero Flip 3D
In Windows 7, if you press the ALT + TAB key combination, you will get the following screen for your programs:
Basically, you get small thumbnails for each program or window on the taskbar. If you use the Windows Key + TAB combination, you get a cool looking 3D flip stack interface:
By the way, if your computer does not support hardware acceleration, then when you press ALT + TAB you will see small icons instead of a preview as shown below:
If Aero Flip 3D is not working in Windows 7, it is also possible that you are not using the Aero theme. Right click on the desktop and select Personalized. Then choose one of the topics below Aero theme.
Windows 8 switch between apps
So what happened in Windows 8? First, the 3D flip has been removed to replace the new sliders that appear from all sides in Windows 8. Remember the Charms bar on the right-hand side?
In Windows 8, if you press ALT + TAB, you get the same thumbnail view of all open programs, including desktop apps and new Windows Store apps introduced in Windows 8.
This makes sense and makes sense, right? However, if you press the Windows key + TAB, you will get this slider from the left side of the screen:
Firstly, I don’t use many Windows apps to justify this annoying slider on the left side of the screen. I love the 3D flip of Windows 7. Best of all, it doesn’t list desktop apps, but instead a tile with a name. Desktop. This is one of the many reasons why people simply hate Windows 8.
Windows 10 switch between apps
Thankfully, Windows 10 has fixed some of those problems. You still won’t get any 3D flip action in Windows 10, but I don’t mind that much anymore.
Firstly, when pressing ALT + TAB in Windows 10, you get the same thumbnail previews as in older versions of Windows, but the thumbnails are very large compared to preview versions of Windows, because so it looks very nice.
As with Windows 8, ALT + TAB will show you desktop apps and Windows Store apps. Thankfully, in Windows 10, Store apps stay inside windows and can be used like desktop apps, instead of going fullscreen and really annoying.
So what function does Window Key + TAB have in Windows 10? Well, now that Windows 10 supports multiple desktops, just like OS X had for a while, this key combination will let you switch between desktops. The cool thing about this key combo is that you can also let go of all the keys and it doesn’t go away.
This is where things get a little interesting. When you are in this mode, pressing tab will not switch you between apps in a particular screen. Instead, it takes you from the bottom part of the screen, which lists all screens, and the top part of the screen, which lists all the apps and programs on a particular screen.
If you press the left or right arrow key, it will allow you to switch between different programs on that screen as shown below.
You should see a small white box around the currently selected app. You can then press enter to select that application. While in this mode, if you press NAVIGATION, then you will activate the section below, and now you can move through the desktops by pressing the left and right arrow keys. As you can see below, two monitors are showing brighter because one is active when I press Windows Key + TAB and the other I use arrow keys to highlight.
Now if you just press enter when another monitor is selected, it will just load that display and show you any previously active windows for that display.
However, to show all active windows to another monitor, you must press Spacebar Key. Then you can press NAVIGATION again to go back to the top of the screen and the arrow around the app you want to select. Then press Enter and you will load that application from that screen.
Since I use a lot of desktop computers, these new key combinations are quite useful and everything makes a lot more sense. The spacebar trick isn’t intuitive, but once you learn it, it makes a world of difference in navigating between desktops and apps. Hopefully that gives you a bit of an idea of how these shortcuts have changed over time. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Interesting!