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Clean Alt-Tab for Win8: desktop item and thumbnails removed


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#1
shae

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I've modified the Win8 Alt-Tab task switcher:

 

* "Desktop" item removed.

* No thumbnails.

 

Download for Windows 8.1.1 64-bit (AltTab.dll v6.3.9600.17031, 108,032 bytes) ("Windows 8.1 Update")

Download for Windows 8.1 64-bit (AltTab.dll v6.3.9600.16384, 108,032 bytes)

Download for Windows 8 64-bit (AltTab.dll v6.2.9200.16384, 87,552 bytes)

Download for Windows 8 32-bit (AltTab.dll v6.2.9200.16384, 67,584 bytes)

 

4diERnT.png

 

--- Original post:

 

Is there any way to remove the thumbnails from the Windows Alt-Tab task switcher, and also get rid of the desktop entry?

 

So far my searches yielded nothing. You can decrease the size of the thumbnails, but beyond a certain point also the program icons start to get smaller. 0 size isn't an option. Surprisingly there are just a few alternate Alt-Tabbers, and none of them have a look I like.

 

Enabling the classic Windows switcher solves the thumbnails and desktop, but adds multiple extra entries, apparently Metro stuff, that should normally be invisible.

 


Edited by shae, 13 June 2014 - 10:32 AM.



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#2
GrofLuigi

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"AltTabSettings" registry value?

 

Alt+Tab Tuner?

 

GL



#3
xpclient

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There's VistaSwitcher which with the 'No Preview' option is clean and simple, no thumbnails, clear icons and text on clear background. Only thing is it lists programs vertically, not horizontally. It doesn't have Desktop and on Windows 8, even shows those dumb Metro apps.

 

FmRJtex.png


Impossible to run NT6 without third party fixes.


#4
shae

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Thanks. :) But... these are exactly the things I tried.

 

Alt+Tab Tuner is subjected to Windows limitations, so no 0 thumbnails size, and small sizes affect also icons size.

 

AltTabSettings for classic mode shows extraneous items.

 

VistaSwitcher is not dynamically sized. So it both takes up too much space, and with enough windows doesn't show them all without scrolling. If it weren't for these two issues I'd probably use it despite my preference for a compact icons-only style.

 


Edited by shae, 16 August 2013 - 10:38 PM.


#5
GrofLuigi

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On Windows 7 here, alt+tab behaves exactly like XP (no extra icons and no thumbnails), but I can't remember what I did. :( Even AltTabSettings is 0. I think I have unregistered a dll.

 

*Edit: Yep, that's probably it - AltTab.dll

 

*Edit2: Well, not completely, it exists only in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{A1607060-5D4C-467a-B711-2B59A6F25957}\InProcServer32 .

 

*Edit3: I know what it is. I removed it from ShellServiceObjects with latest Autoruns.exe

 

GL


Edited by GrofLuigi, 16 August 2013 - 11:14 PM.


#6
shae

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Well, Windows 8 has all the Metro baggage. Did you get the classic Alt-Tab window on Win 8 (Hold left Alt, press and release right Alt, hold Tab) without the extra Metro items?

 

In the meantime I started digging into patching the DLL to get rid of these things. So far I got rid of the desktop item on the new task switcher. The thumbnails will take more work. 

 

If anyone wants to test the task switcher without the desktop item, on Win8 x64 modify AltTab.dll (v6.2.9200.16384, 87,552 bytes) as follows:

 

offset 0x51A8: 48 -> C3



#7
xpclient

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I had the same issue as the OP. Modern Alt-Tab is crap because the thumbnail preview is too small for me to make out anything, the icon is in such a wrong position that it's hard to focus on the icon and the text at the same time, and the window text is shown for only one window at a time. VistaSwitcher is more like a compromise because it shows large previews, is multi-monitor aware, shows the text of all programs at once and I can add exclusions. Enabling classic Alt-Tab on Windows 8 is useless, all the invisible windows show up hosted by Explorer.exe with different window classes (SearchPane, Shell_CharmWindow, MetroGhostWindow, SnappedDesktop, ImmersiveBackgroundWindow, ImmersiveLauncher, Start menu).

 

Another tool I found was TaskList (attached to this post) which shows a simple compact menu of all visible windows right where the mouse pointer is. I found it on some Japanese website, hex edited to polish its English :D, it also has Aero Shake in the context menu.

Attached Files


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#8
GrofLuigi

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Well, Windows 8 has all the Metro baggage. Did you get the classic Alt-Tab window on Win 8 (Hold left Alt, press and release right Alt, hold Tab) without the extra Metro items?

 

I have Win8 only in virtual machine and pressing Alt-Tab shows only the host's Alt-Tab window (or it overlaps the VM's window).

 

Did you try the registry? I'm now sure that's what restored the XP behavior.

 

XP behavior:



REGEDIT4
 
[-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellServiceObjects\{A1607060-5D4C-467a-B711-2B59A6F25957}]

[-HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\ShellServiceObjects\{A1607060-5D4C-467a-B711-2B59A6F25957}]

Revert to Win7 behavior:



REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\ShellServiceObjects\{A1607060-5D4C-467a-B711-2B59A6F25957}]

"AutoStart"=""
 
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\ShellServiceObjects\{A1607060-5D4C-467a-B711-2B59A6F25957}]

"AutoStart"=""

I call it Win7 behavior because that's what I'm sure about, but this key is present in Win8 too.

 

*Edit: The editor destroys the tags, but I'm sure you can manage.

 

GL


Edited by GrofLuigi, 17 August 2013 - 04:28 AM.


#9
shae

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GL: Removing the reference to AltTab.dll shows the classic dialog which shows a few extra items for otherwise invisible Metro windows ("Start menu", "Snapped Desktop", "Immersive Background", sometimes more).

 

I've further changed the DLL to both disabled the thumbnails and remove the desktop entry. 

 

For Win8 x64, AltTab.dll v6.2.9200.16384, 87,552 bytes:

 

Offset   Original bytes   Modified bytes

 

0x4d45:  41 0f 95 c6  ->  45 30 f6 90

0x51a8:  48           ->  c3

0x5c21:  0f 84        ->  90 e9  

 

If anyone wants to try, see the attached modified DLL.

 

Now, why does the icon of the first program annoyingly flicker once when opening the task switcher (original or modified)... :)

Attached Files


Edited by shae, 17 August 2013 - 07:32 PM.


#10
shae

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AltTab.dll modification v2:

 

Previously, Alt-Tabbing when only a single program/window was open didn't do anything. This update shows the task switcher also in that case.

 

Ideally I'd want the classic Windows behavior where Alt-Tabbing immediately switches to the single program without showing the task switcher. But that seems more complex to do, so it'll have to do for now.

Attached Files


Edited by shae, 23 August 2013 - 10:32 AM.


#11
DoopaDoop

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Can something similar be rigged up for x86?



#12
shae

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If you upload the 32-bit AltTab.dll I could have a look. You'll have to test it and hope for the best, though. But I think it'll be fine. :)



#13
DoopaDoop

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Thanks :) The board won't let me upload it but try this: https://www.dropbox....hdo5/AltTab.dll


Edited by DoopaDoop, 11 September 2013 - 06:16 AM.


#14
shae

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Here's the modified 32-bit DLL. Replace the original DLL and restart explorer.exe. Assuming the AltTab dialog shows, and assuming your Windows doesn't crash and burn :), check if the desktop entry is gone, the thumbnails are gone, and if it shows up also when there's only 1 window.

 

EDIT: Deleted buggy file.


Edited by shae, 14 September 2013 - 05:19 PM.


#15
DoopaDoop

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Ok, we have issues. First I had to mess with permissions so I could change the file in System32. I made a backup of the old version. I've got the registry key HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\AltTabSettings set to 1. With the new version of the dll it acts the same as before, I still get Start Menu, Snapped Desktop, and Immersive Background. However, the default Alt-Tab behavior is gone. If I set the registry setting back to 0, every time I press Alt-Tab it restarts Windows Explorer. I tried restoring the backup file and it doesn't fix it. At first it says "The action can't be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program" -- or if I back out of System32 into Windows and just drag the file into the System32 folder then it still tells me "You need permission to perform this action" even though I am now the owner with full access. In either case if I click Try Again it just pops up the same thing again, and if I hit Skip it acts like it's copying the file, but the behavior doesn't change. So maybe it has actually replaced the file but something else is messed up... except that it does the same thing if I try to delete the file and press Skip, it acts like it's deleting it but it doesn't go away.


Edited by DoopaDoop, 14 September 2013 - 05:09 AM.


#16
DoopaDoop

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Same things happen in safe mode.



#17
shae

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Try renaming alttab.dll in system32, then copying the replacement.

 

And I'll have to have a direct look...



#18
DoopaDoop

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Ok that worked, we're back to original behavior. Thanks :) Come to think of it, that might be what I had to do to replace the dll to begin with.



#19
shae

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And here's the fix. :)

 

Attached Files



#20
DoopaDoop

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Awesome! At first I thought it wasn't working because I had the registry setting at 1, but then realized it works on the default setting of 0. Thanks so much :)



#21
xpclient

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Is there a chance we can get this awesome patch to do in-memory patching instead of on-disk patching?


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#22
DoopaDoop

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Oh hey it still shows up when there's only 1 window. I don't mind because I don't press Alt-Tab with only 1 window up, but you wanted to know.



#23
shae

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Oh hey it still shows up when there's only 1 window. I don't mind because I don't press Alt-Tab with only 1 window up, but you wanted to know.

 

Thanks. This is intended. Otherwise you can't Alt-Tab to a single window if the focus is elsewhere, like the desktop, taskbar, or windows without taskbar buttons.

 

 

Is there a chance we can get this awesome patch to do in-memory patching instead of on-disk patching?

 

I might look into that later on.



#24
shae

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A version for Windows 8.1 x64. Seems okay, but not tested much as I don't yet use 8.1. 

Attached Files


Edited by shae, 22 December 2013 - 11:11 AM.


#25
NoelC

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Something not really mentioned here, but worth discussing in context:

 

Bear with me please, it's been a long time since I thought about this, and some of it is from memory...

 

With Vista (I think it was) the Z-ordering of windows was no longer maintained the same way as XP - I guess Microsoft figured some half-baked sorting of the list was somehow better than deterministically knowing that when you minimized a window it would always show up at the end, and the next most recent window used would be second in the list, third most recent third in the list, and so on.

 

In short, with XP and earlier you could keep a mental image of the Z-order and instinctively use Alt-Tab (or Shift-Alt-Tab) the proper number of times to reach the various windows you had been using.  A power user didn't have to look at the list as much.  I found that convenient, though I've gotten somewhat used to not having it.

 

Is there any way to tweak Explorer (or whatever) to return the old XP-like behavior?

 

-Noel






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