You don’t often think about how slowly you work with your computer, until the moment someone shows you a very cool move that makes you substantially more efficient.
This is one of those moments.
If you’ve been using computers since the text-based days of DOS, like I have, this may be old news to you. But I’ve gotten handwritten thank you notes from people after I’ve shown them how to use this simple keyboard shortcut.
It seems straightforward to use your mouse to switch between applications on your Mac or PC, right? Click on an exposed window of a background app, and boom! It’s right up front.
But compared to CMD-TAB or ALT-TAB, using your mouse is deadly slow. Especially if you’re working with text: composing, cutting and pasting, email and so on.
Because using your mouse requires you to stop your typing, moving your hand from the keyboard to the mouse, sliding the mouse over a target like your dock or taskbar, or that exposed window, accurately clicking on that window or an icon to switch to that other app and then moving your hand back to your keyboard to find the home keys and resume your typing.
Do this instead:
While typing on a Macintosh, without having to move to the mouse, hold down the Command (CMD or cloverleaf or Apple) key, and hit TAB.
If you’re on a Windows machine, hold down the ALT key, and hit TAB.
You’ll switch between applications and windows in the order they were opened, and you’ll be able to resume typing instantly with your hands still in position to do so.
User interface engineers will tell you that this deceptively simple move to switch between apps is actually more than 5 times faster than using your mouse. Why? Because your total hand movement is very limited, as you never actually remove your hands from the keyboard on which you’re typing.
You also don’t have to use eye-hand coordination, as you do when using a mouse, to target and click on an icon that is almost never in the same place on your Dock or taskbar. Each new open application and document moves other icons around just enough to be annoying, and you have to accurately hit the right icon to go where you want; the Command, Alt and Tab keys are always in the same place, and just like any typing, you get used to where they are.
If you have more than one app and/or window open, the whole lot of them will be displayed on the screen, and ALT- or CMD-TAB will cycle through them in order. And you can easily go back and forth between the last two apps you’re using by using this shortcut repeatedly – it remembers the last app you were in.
Get used to using this keyboard shortcut. If you become proficient at it, you can quickly switch between, as an example, your audition script in Preview and the recording of that script in Audacity, and back again.
CMD-TAB or ALT-TAB. A simple speed gain that will make your auditioning life faster and better.
Hope this helps.