What to Do When Alt-Tab is Not Working

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Sep 14, 2021 • Filed to: Windows Computer Solutions • Proven solutions

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The computer was invented to provide ease to the user in day-to-day matters. It performs multiple functions that reduce the effort and time required to complete a task. While working on a computer, the work effort is further reduced with the help of shortcut keys. These keys initiate shortcut commands that minimize the effort required to obtain a particular result.

Alt-Tab command, which is the topic of this article, is also a type of command mentioned above. This article will discuss the causes and precautions of the keys not working correctly and the most efficient solutions for it.


Part 1: What are the Causes of the Alt-Tab Not Working?

Alt-Tab is an essential and helpful shortcut key. It allows the user to switch through different windows rather proficiently as opposed to the traditional methods. Sometimes it has been seen that the command fails to respond. There are many reasons why the issue may occur, and down below are some of the major causes of this issue.


Part 2:  How Can These Issues be Resolved?

Now that you are aware of the causes of these issues, it is time that we move on to the most intelligent solutions for these problems. These solutions will ensure that your hindrance with the Alt-Tab function will be resolved. However, to ensure the expected results, it is advised to the user to follow the steps and procedure of the solutions cautiously to avoid any problem in the future.

Method 1: Use the Second Alt Key

The first solution on our list to fix the Alt-Tab function is pretty basic. According to most users, with the help of this solution, their problem was solved. There are two Alt keys present on your keyboard, and in case one of them fails to work correctly, it is recommended that you try the other one.



alt keys on keyboard

It also performs the same purpose, and it has been noticed that after using the secondary Alt key for the window switching purpose, the primary Alt key starts to function again as well. In addition to that, if you press the Alt-Tab-Esc keys to restore or fix issues with the function in general.

Method 2: Reinstall Keyboard Device

As opposed to the first method, this method of solution is rather technical. Therefore, to achieve the expected results, it is advised to the user to follow the steps strictly. The Alt-Tab key error may occur due to corrupted drives and won't be resolved until the driver is fully updated or re-installed. You can try and reinstall the driver by adhering to the following steps.

  1. Press the keys “Win + R” to open the Run window and type down the command “devmgmt.msc”. Press “enter” to open the device manager.


 open device manager

  1. In this management tool, open the section “Keyboards."
  2. After this, right-click on your keyboard device, and in the menu, click on the “Uninstall Device



uninstall the keyboard drivers

  1. Subsequently, remove the cable of your keyboard from the computer and after 10 seconds of waiting, connect your keyboard and let Windows install the drivers again.
  2. After this, test your Alt-Tab shortcut and check whether it's functioning without problem or not.

Method 3: Enable Alt-Tab on Registry Editor

In case your problem is still not resolved, you should not worry. There are more ways by which you can fix this issue. As mentioned earlier, one of the significant causes of the crashing of the Alt-Tab shortcut is the Registry issue. In this method, we will show you how to resolve this obstacle. This can happen by verifying that the shortcut is enabled on the Registry Editor.

To activate the Alt-Tab function from the Registry, you have to abide by the following steps:

  1. Click on the ‘Win’ key to open the start menu.
  2. In the search box of the start menu, type ‘Registry Editor.'
  3. Select the first result with the blue icon.
  4. After accessing the Registry Editor, now you have to follow the following path:

“HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer”

  1. Double click on the “AltTabSettings” key.
  2. Change the value in the Value field to 1 to activate the Alt-Tab command.


 change the value to 1

  1. Now, click on ‘Ok’ and restart your computer.
  2. In case you are unable to find this key, you need to access the Edit menu and select “New > DWORD (32 Bit)," from it. After this, set the name to “AltTabSettings," and lastly, set the value to 1 as shown previously and click on 'Ok.'



select dword (32-bit) value

  1. After restarting your computer system, test the Alt-Tab keyboard shortcut that whether or not it is working.

Method 4: Disconnect your Peripherals

In case that your issue is still not resolved, we have another solution that will surely fix your hindrance. This method is relatively easy and more effective too. Another major cause of the Alt-Tab shortcut issue is the peripherals. According to users' reviews, this problem is primarily caused by the peripherals, and therefore, this method will help you fix the problem.


disconnect your peripherals

This method is pretty simple and straightforward. You have to remove and reattach your peripherals or hardware devices. The problem is mainly caused by devices such as Headset or USB Mouse. Reattaching them may provide the solution to it. The user must keep in mind that this is only a temporary solution and will require repetition if the issue arises again.


Part 3: What are the Methods to Avoid This from Happening?

As you can see, minor to minor things can cause significant problems for you; therefore, you should try to avoid them as much as possible rather than fixing them after they occur. The same is the case in this situation. There are multiple ways, through the help of which you can avoid these problems altogether. Below you can find a complete list of things you can do to prevent this situation.


Bottom Line

This article has elaborately described the function of the Alt-Tab shortcut, its issues and causes, a different method of solutions, and preventive tips to avoid facing this problem. We hope the user finds this guide helpful.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of the Alt-Tab shortcut?

Alt-Tab is a shortcut key that is mainly used to switch between tabs. It can switch between two opened tabs more efficiently.

  1. How to use Alt-Tab in Windows OS?

By pressing the Alt-Tab in windows, the user can switch through different tabs currently open, in the direction of left to right. Similarly, if you press Alt + Tab + Shift, it moves from right to left direction of open tabs in windows. Moreover, if you have two or three tabs opened, you can use Alt + Esc keyboard shortcut to switch rather quickly.

  1. How to use Alt-Tab in Linux OS?

By pressing the Alt-Tab in Linux, the user can cycle through the open windows and choose its desired one.

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