Enlarge Alt+Tab thumbnails in Windows 8 and Windows 7

In Windows 7 and Windows 8, the Alt + Tab window switcher has a number of secret hidden options. Using these options, you can change the appearance of Alt + Tab and make the thumbnails bigger so they're easier to see. You can adjust the margins and spacing too. Here is how it can be done.


The values which you can tweak vary in each Windows version. For example, in Windows 7, the Alt + Tab window switcher is more flexible and has more values. In Windows 8, the set of values is reduced, and in Windows 10 it is completely different.
Let's review the tweakable values in detail.

Alt+Tab

Alt+Tab tweaks in Windows 7

alt tab windows 7

Windows 7 has a number of Registry options available for the Alt+Tab window switcher. To apply them, you need to do the following.

  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. Go to the following key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AltTab

    If you don't have such a key, then just create it.
    Tip: See how to jump to the desired Registry key with one click.

  3. Here you can create the values mentioned below.
    All values should be of type 32-bit DWORD. In case if you are running the 64-bit Windows version, you still need to use the 32-bit DWORD value.
  4. After you change any value, you need to restart Explorer for changes to take effect.

MaxThumbSizePx - sets the thumbnail preview size. Set its value data in intervals from 100 to 500 in decimals. This value will not work as expected until you set another one named MinThumbSizePcent.
MinThumbSizePcent - defines the minimal possible thumbnail size in percent. Percentage will be calculated from the value of the MaxThumbSizePx value. So, to get thumbnails exactly of the size you set in MaxThumbSizePx, set the MinThumbSizePcent to 100 in decimals.

ThumbSpacingXPx - horizontal spacing between thumbnails. Set this value's data in intervals from 1 to 200 in decimals.

ThumbSpacingYPx - vertical spacing between thumbnails. Set this value's data in intervals from 1 to 200 in decimals.

SideMarginPx - this value defines the thumbnail margin from the left and right edges of the Alt+Tab switcher window. Set its value data from 1 to 60 in decimals.

TopMarginPx - this value defines the thumbnail margin from the top edge of the Alt+Tab switcher window. Set its value data from 1 to 60 in decimals.

BottomMarginPx - defines the thumbnail margin from the bottom edge of the Alt+Tab switcher window. Set its value data from 1 to 60 in decimals.

OverlayIconPx - specifies the size of the app icon visible in the Alt+Tab dialog near the window thumbnail. Valid values are 0 - 64 in decimals, although setting any value above 32 pixelates the icons. Windows does not use a sharper, higher resolution icon. It simply scales the 32 x 32 icon.

OverlayIconDXPx - specifies the horizontal position of the app icon.
OverlayIconDYPx - specifies the vertical position of the app icon.

Columns - specifies the number of columns the Alt+Tab dialog will have.
Rows - specifies the number of rows the Alt+Tab dialog will have.

FadeOut_ms - defines the amount of milliseconds during which the Alt+Tab dialog will disappear when you switch to Desktop with Alt+Tab. The value is in decimals. Try to set it to 3000.

FinalAlpha - defines the transparency level of the Alt+Tab dialog in decimals. Try to set it to 50.

Once again, I must repeat that restarting Explorer is necessary because some of the values do not work instantly.

Alt+Tab tweaks in Windows 8

stock alt tab tweaked alt tab In Windows 8, Microsoft removed many values which were available in Windows 7. Here are the tweaks you can use in Windows 8.

MaxThumbSizePx - sets the thumbnail preview size. Set its value data in intervals from 100 to 500 in decimals. This value will not work as expected until you set another one named MinThumbSizePcent.
MinThumbSizePcent - defines the minimal possible thumbnail size in percent. Percentage will be calculated from the value of the MaxThumbSizePx value. So, to get thumbnails exactly of the size you set in MaxThumbSizePx, set the MinThumbSizePcent to 100 in decimals.

ThumbSpacingXPx - horizontal spacing between thumbnails. Set this value's data in intervals from 1 to 200 in decimals.

ThumbSpacingYPx - vertical spacing between thumbnails. Set this value's data in intervals from 1 to 200 in decimals.

SideMarginPx - this value defines the thumbnail margin from the left and right edges of the Alt+Tab switcher window. Set its value data from 1 to 60 in decimals.

TopMarginPx - this value defines the thumbnail margin from the top edge of the Alt+Tab switcher window. Set its value data from 1 to 60 in decimals.

BottomMarginPx - defines the thumbnail margin from the bottom edge of the Alt+Tab switcher window. Set its value data from 1 to 60 in decimals.

OverlayIconPx - specifies the size of the app icon visible in the Alt+Tab dialog near the window thumbnail. Valid values are 0 - 64 in decimals, although setting any value above 32 pixelates the icons. Windows does not use a sharper, higher resolution icon. It simply scales the 32 x 32 icon.

OverlayIconDXPx - specifies the horizontal position of the app icon.
OverlayIconDYPx - specifies the vertical position of the app icon.

So, in Windows 8 Microsoft has removed the ability to change rows, columns and transparency related settings.

What about Windows 10?

Windows 10 alt tab hidden background windows
In Windows 10, Alt+Tab is a non-animated version of the "Task View" feature, which also implements virtual desktops in Windows 10. It has its own interesting set of hidden tweaks, but none of the tweaks above are applicable.

I covered Alt+Tab tweaks for Windows 10 in the following articles:

If you would like to save your time and play with all these tweaks quickly in Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7, you can use Winaero Tweaker.

  1. Download Winaero Tweaker.
  2. Run it and go to Appearance\Alt+Tab Appearance:
    In Windows 8 and Windows 7, it provides the following options: Winaero Tweaker alt tab 8
    In Windows 10, it looks like this: Winaero Tweaker alt tab 10
  3. Adjust the desired options and restart Explorer when prompted.

Microsoft has not provided a user interface for any of these options. The user has to edit the Registry or use third party apps to get the desired appearance of the Alt+Tab window switcher.

Tell us which tweaks you prefer: increased thumbnail size, increased margins or spacing etc. Maybe you are happy with the default look of Alt+Tab? Personally I find that the thumbnails are too small to identify the app, especially if multiple windows of the same app are open.

Tell us your opinion in the comments.

One thought on “Enlarge Alt+Tab thumbnails in Windows 8 and Windows 7

  1. Otto

    Windows 8.1
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AltTab : Columns & Rows DWORD values DO work
    (unless ClassicShell or OldNewExplorer is reponsible of that, but I don’t think so…)
    This allow large thumbnails if you set, for example, Columns=4, Rows=4 (so up to 4×4=16 items), and MaxThumbSizePx=300 (decimal)
    The excess thumbnails, if more than 16, will scroll down the AltTab preview window

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