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How to get classic icons on Alt+Tab on Windows 10

On Windows 10, the Alt+Tab keyboard shortcut opens an app switcher. It shows you a large preview window of each app that you have open. If you continue holding down the Alt key, and toggle the Tab key, you can cycle through the different apps and select whichever one you want to switch to. Windows used to show icons for the apps at one point. The window previews are a somewhat new addition. If you prefer to see the classic icons on Alt+Tab, you can restore them with a registry key.

This is what you normally see when you tap Alt+Tab.

Classic icons on Alt+Tab

Open the registry editor with admin rights and navigate to the following key.


Right-click the Explorer key and select New>DWORD (32-bit) Value. Name the new value;


Double-click it and set its value to 1 to get classic icons on Alt+tab.

Restart Windows Explorer to execute the change. To restart Windows Explorer, open the Task Manager and go to the Processes tab. Look for, and select Windows Explorer. Click the Restart button at the bottom right and when you next tap the Alt+Tab keyboard shortcut, you will see the following app switcher.

This app switcher is much smaller than the larger window previews you get by default. One might argue that it is less useful since you can’t see what’s open in the app but for users who find it easier to identify an app by its icon rather than by its contents, the classic icons are much better. There’s unfortunately no way to make the icons appear larger which is a shame. The classic icon view is useful for both identifying apps and for accommodating more apps in the same screen space.

The windows preview tend to arrange the previews in various layouts in order to accommodate them all. Aesthetically, there’s nothing wrong with it but from a productivity point of view, consistency is always better.

There’s one other, albeit small advantage of using classic icons on Alt+Tab. When you use Alt+Tab, with the classic icons, the taskbar remains visible. It’s not a big deal but it does let you see which apps are open on the current screen if you’re using multiple screens or virtual desktops.

You can reverse the change by deleting the registry key that you created, or you can change its value from 1 to 0. Make sure that after each change, you restart Windows Explorer.

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