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UCyborg

Enabling Alt-Tab window transparency (Windows 8.x only)

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I can't seem to figure how to make Alt-Tab window look like it looks on Windows 7. Currently using aero7 V2 theme. I've tried SetWindowCompositionAttribute app, specified TaskSwitcherWnd for window class, but it doesn't change anything. The window is always flat blue without any transparency applied, the exact same color I picked when installing Windows on the dialog that also asks for computer name. Any idea how to enable transparency for it?

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It's possible to get the old alt-tab window by utilizing AltTab.dll from Windows Vista (Windows 7 version crashes). These files can be taken from either actual Windows Vista installation or from the installation ISO's sources\install.wim file. Also mind the bitness so you don't put 32-bit DLL on 64-bit system and vice-versa, presence of \Windows\SysWOW64 folder is a good indicator of 64-bit installation.

\Windows\System32\AltTab.dll
\Windows\System32\en-US\AltTab.dll.mui

Substitute en-US for whatever GUI language is currently use. Also take .mui files for any other other language packs that might be installed. Give the files a different name so originals don't have to be overwritten, ensuring the system still passes system file integrity checks. I renamed them to AltTabVista.dll and AltTabVista.dll.mui.

Then put the files in its place on the taget Windows 8 installation, launch regedit as TrustedInstaller (Process Hacker with TrustedInstaller plugin is one way), navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{A1607060-5D4C-467a-B711-2B59A6F25957}\InProcServer32 and change the entry in the right pane to refer to AltTabVista.dll rather than AltTab.dll.

After logging off and back on or restarting Explorer, the result is this:

fR09LbT.png

You might see the Search Pane's window among the windows. That window is not marked as hidden, just occluded, new Alttab.dll has a special filter to not display it. I don't use the Search Pane so I just disabled it by taking away read permission from Windows.UI.Search.dll.

The old Alt-Tab also respects the settings in theme's .msstyles file. I haven't noticed any functional enhancements to alt-tabbing from Vista to 8.1, so VistaSwitcher might still be a better choice for some people.

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On 6/30/2015 at 1:33 PM, UCyborg said:

I can't seem to figure how to make Alt-Tab window look like it looks on Windows 7. Currently using aero7 V2 theme. I've tried SetWindowCompositionAttribute app, specified TaskSwitcherWnd for window class, but it doesn't change anything. The window is always flat blue without any transparency applied, the exact same color I picked when installing Windows on the dialog that also asks for computer name. Any idea how to enable transparency for it?

Just run this in command window as administrator. It is actually pretty easy.

 

EDIT:  This is for Windows 10, but it MAY work with 8.X

Reg.exe add "HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MultiTaskingView\AltTabViewHost" /v "Wallpaper" /t REG_DWORD /d "1" /f
Reg.exe add "HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MultiTaskingView\AltTabViewHost" /v "Grid_backgroundPercent" /t REG_DWORD /d "0" /f
 

Edited by dhjohns

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@UCyborg  Could you post all entries for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{A1607060-5D4C-467a-B711-2B59A6F25957}\InProcServer32 ?  I want to try this in Windows 10.

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@dhjohns
Didn't know about those settings, good to know. They are Windows 10 specific. It seems there is a little bit of transparency applied by default. DWM's frame rendering code is not involved.

The thing about the alt-tab implementation on Windows Vista/7, it calls DwmExtendFrameIntoClientArea on its window to give it sheath of glass, so the glass effect and background color inherit the same properties as regular window frames, just like one has it configured by tweaking color settings in Personalization panel and Aero Glass settings.

Windows 10 no longer has Alt-Tab switcher implemented in a separate DLL, so importing those registry entries won't do anything since no code will try to read them. Plus the old AltTab.dll uses some resources from theme's .msstyles file, which are absent on Windows 10.


I've been playing with Switcher recently. Experienced some oddities when using its default shortcut for task switching, it makes the screenshot in Pictures\Screenshot folder when invoked as if you pressed Win + PrtScr (the shortcut is Win + Caps Lock). Can be configured to use Alt-Tab instead, along with some other options.

On Vista - 8.1 systems, thumbnail sizes aren't adjusted dynamically according to how many windows there are open. If you try to make them bigger by tweaking registry settings with Winaero Tweaker to be able to distinguish better the contents of each window, they'll be constrained in that tiny window and go off the screen.

Switcher has the option whether to show the desktop among the windows or not, which I find useful. If you only have a fullscreen game running on Windows 10 that disables Windows key, you can't quickly go to desktop if it's not shown there. 3rd party switchers without additional configuring tend to show windows in internal use by the system, like Windows Shell Experience Host window. Looks like they fixed the classic Windows XP style switcher to not show those. I haven't figured out how to permanently hide windows in the Switcher. There's also the issue that it has to be run with admin rights to be able to handle elevated applications' windows.

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