The very three critical combinations to understand before even participating in this thread:

  1. Windows 10 with classic ALT+Tab registry key restoration (all over the web, look it up).
  2. Use any program that customizes the key bindings to the fourth and fifth mouse buttons (the thumb buttons); I have been using X-Mouse Button Control.
  3. Set the forward-thumb button to ALT+Tab (if using X-Mouse Button Control set to "Simulated Keys (pressed)" and paste {ALT}{TAB}.

This is not about using the physical keyboard to ALT+Tab, this thread is about assigning the Classic Alt+Tab function to a mouse and having it switch between the two active windows only instead of randomly wandering around different unrelated windows.

Here is list of open Windows for both Windows 7 and 10:

Window A [code/work browser]
Window B [IDE/code editor]
Window C [notepad]
Window ♣ [funny cat pictures]
Window Beta [separate browser for developer chat]
Window Waldo [browser used to find an answer drowning in responses by people who just don't get it]

Typically when I work I switch between my code editor and my test browser however this is just an example as I use the Classic non-borked Alt+Tab all the time between any two windows and when I'm done with a pair I will manually switch to another pair typically.

To trigger the correct behavior press and hold ALT, press Tab once and then let go of both keys.

Windows 7 Classic Alt+Tab (correct mouse-ALT+Tab behavior):

Window A [code]
Window B [browser / reload / worked? No? Back to code!]
Window A [code]
Window B [browser / reload / worked? No? Back to code!]
Window A [code]
Window B [browser / reload / worked? No? Back to code!]
Window A [code]
Window B [browser / reload / worked? No? Back to code!]

Windows 10 Classic Alt+Tab restored via registry (incorrect mouse-ALT+Tab behavior):

Window A [code]
Window X [WTH?!]
Window ♣ [huge vein on forehead appears]
Window Beta [violence likely]
Window Waldo [divided by zero]

Even when you get rid of the crappy GUI garbage they dumped on users in Windows 10 the behavior of Alt+Tabbing once (pressing Tab once and letting go of the Alt key) is now absolute and utter chaos. I'm a GUI designer (UI/UX etc) and the goal is to always achieve maximum results with minimum input.


  • I'm not going to use ALT+Esc
  • I'm not going to use Windows+Tab
  • I'm not going to add twenty seconds staring at window explosions in place of 20ms action.
  • I'm not going to post on Microsoft Answers because the last thing you ever get there is a frigin answer.
  • My work won't allow me to dump Windows 10 like the released-two-years-too-early-mess it is and just go back to Windows 7.

Please, fellow beings of competence, hear my plea! I've probably had hours of my time wasted by just this Windows 10 "feature" alone.