Time Saving Tuesday

One of Vista’s features that I use all of the time is the new Alt-Tab for switching between applications. Unlike Windows XP, Vista actually shows thumbnails for each application that you are running so that it is easier to identify what you’re looking for. And they just aren’t screenshots either like a lot of the imitators in XP, instead they show live previews of the application. Overall, it is just really nice.

Vista Alt-Tab
Click to Enlarge

The above is what the default Alt-Tab looks like in Windows Vista, and if you click on the image you’ll see the full-size version. That’s on a 1920×1200 screen, which makes it obvious that it doesn’t take up the whole width of the screen. Unfortunately Microsoft did not scale the width of the Alt-Tab based upon the size of the monitor.

If I’m running Vista on a monitor capable of 1920×1200, I want to utilize the space available. And as it stands, Alt-Tab shows 7 previews in a row before it creates a new row. I’d rather leave that number alone and have it make the thumbnails bigger when I have a larger resolution available.

That’s when I came across this site which gives some registry settings that you can modify to change the width of each thumbnail, and ultimately the size of the Alt-Tab display. To change the size just download this registry file, and after it is on your computer, right-click on it and select Merge. This will import it into your registry using the values I’ve specified in the file (optimized for displays that are 1680×1050).

The first thing you might want to do before Merging the file is to open it in Notepad (or any text editor) and adjust the MaxThumbSizePx to match something close to your resolution.

1024×768: MaxThumbSizePx = 00000078
1280×1024: MaxThumbSizePx = 0000009E
1680×1050: MaxThumbSizePx = 000000d2
1920×1200: MaxThumbSizePx = 000000f5

You do not need to restart your computer to see the changes, they should be instant. This is what the end result looks like on my 1920×1200 monitor (yeah, compare this to the screenshot above):

Alt-Tab Vista
Click to Enlarge

If you don’t like how it looks, and don’t want to mess around with it, you can always revert back to the old Vista Alt-Tab dimensions by removing the following “folder” from the registry:


That will delete all of the settings that you just entered in, and the Alt-Tab appearance will revert back to how it was previous to importing the values into the registry. If you wanted to mess with all of the values, it might be easier to open the registry editor, findi the location above, and edit the values there since you can enter them in as a normal decimal number:

Alt-Tab Vista
Click to Enlarge

It took some tinkering, but I got the configuration how I like it. Go ahead and play around with the values because in the end, I think you’ll like having the larger thumbnails!