Take advantage of the macOS App Switcher

“Do you use the macOS App Switcher?” Steven Sande writes for Apple World Today. “In the basic form, the Command (⌘) – Tab keyboard shortcut lists all apps currently running on the Mac.”

“Hold the Command (⌘) key and press Tab, and the App Switcher appears, floating above all windows on your Mac screen,” Sande writes.

“As long as you continue to press the Command (⌘) key, the App Switcher stays on your screen. To move through the active apps, tap the Tab key with the Command (⌘) key still held down, and it cycles through them from left to right,” Sande writes. “When you get to the app [to which] you wish to switch… just let up on the Command (⌘) key and that app becomes active on your screen.”

Read more, including using Exposé from the App Switcher, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As original macOS users, from the Mac OS X beta onwards, we’re conditioned to using the Dock. Newer, redundant methods and apps like Launchpad pretty much go unused, but more recent converts to the Mac might prefer these tools and methods.


  1. I use the app switcher constantly to jump between open apps and also see what apps are open at a glance. I use Command-Spacebar to open apps and occasionally to search for documents with Spotlight (though the more search results I have enabled in Spotlight, he slower it works on my old laptop, so I have search results limited to Apps, Calculator, Definitions and Documents). My dock’s hidden by default (and in the right side of the screen) and I rarely use it. YMMV

  2. I use the app switcher all the time to switch between running applications; ever since MacOS 9. I use launcher, too. I just pinch my trackpad with 3 fingers & thumb and there are all of my apps. Keeping too many apps in the Dock only makes the icons too small and difficult to find, so I only have my most frequently used apps down there.

  3. I also use the App Switcher constantly. It’s one of the few good things Apple copied from Windows (I guess that’s obvious since this is probably the ONLY good thing one can copy from Windows!)…

    1. I seem to recall a similar function in the Mac multifinder (and this would have been back in ’86-’88 timeframe) so I’m not sure you can credit windows for the inspiration.

  4. I switched back in 2008. There are only three Windows features that I miss.

    Aero Snap (Half screen, quarter screen) window management.
    Set app to remember window positioning and size.
    A true window maximize button.

    Full screen is nice for movies, not necessarily for productivity apps.

    1. I believe the “maximize” option is available if you hold the option key, then click the green/maximize button on the app. Give that a try, see if it does what you want.

  5. With all due respect, it seems few people today understand the difference between “frequently” and “always”/“constantly” or nonsensical phrases like “all the time”. Let’s not be sloppy and write what we truly mean, shall we?

  6. Apple, and other third-party programmers, have tried over the years to improve “switching” on the mac. But command-tab has always been the best way to navigate multiple apps. As well as quickly see what apps are currently open.

  7. I use the app switcher hundreds of times a day. You might say I use it constantly. It’s just one of those unspoken things that gets used all the time, so much so I’m surprised anyone even asks “do you use it.” Might as well ask if you use a keyboard! One thing I don’t hear people talk about is how you can use the mouse to select which app you want, rather than hitting tab until you reach it. (tab is fine if you have a couple of apps open but if you have 10+, using mouse with cmd-tab is a bonus!

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