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Am I the only idiot getting himself muddled up between Alt-Tab and Ctrl-Tab? Where was that thing I was just looking at? Was it a native windows app, or a web app hiding inside one of my browser windows?

I just spent two hours looking for a windows-compatible task switcher/launcher that lists my Firefox, Chrome & Opera tabs alongside my currently running Windows applications, with a simple find-as-you-type keyboard lookup/search facility to switch to the relevant tab or window. Obviously, if you just promoted all the browser tabs to become windows in their own rights, you'd need some kind of search smarts to filter through the list, because it would be considerably larger than what you see in your regular Alt+Tab or Win+Tab (win-tab).

I've looked at most of the alternatives such as Launchy, FARR, Switcheroo, Wox, Keypirinha, Contexts, Hain and Listary, but none of these are able to dig inside my browsers and pull out the list of tabs (apart from FARR, which only does so for Firefox).

Before I give up and offer a bounty for someone to code a plugin for one of these typing window/tab switchers, I'd very much like to know if any you fine folk have already found a solution.

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  • I learned that there's been some thought into solving the Alt-Tab problem, such as Aza Raskin's HRMRU (Habit Respecting MRU) azarask.in/blog/post/solving-the-alt-tab-problem but still no decent application that meets this need.
    – harvest316
    Jun 9, 2016 at 14:18
  • You're definitely not an idiot for having this problem. You have a very understandable mental model involving switching behavioural tasks, and the idiotic UI is violating your expectations by requiring different key combinations to address the same mental model. This is UI 101, but I doubt any of the people who made these decisions were qualified UI experts. It's primarily an OS issue, but hopefully third-parties can fix what Microsoft designed so poorly. Sep 29, 2021 at 4:33

1 Answer 1

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I have a setup that does this that I use every day.

I see the problem as MRU or spatial are not going to work once the windows+tabs get above around 10. At that point you need symbolic.

The real key is: get your tabs out of the browser. Once you do that any window based task switcher becomes a window+tab switcher. For chrome I use the "New Tab, New Window" plugin You could do it with any sort of setup. It explodes the number of windows, and you soon need a better way to find them.

All in all my setup is strange, I'll admit that, but it works great for me:

  • plugin to chrome that forces every tab to be in its own window
  • plugin to chrome that puts $URL $TITLE in title of chrome window
  • Emacs helm based task switcher with filter-while-type etc
  • hot key that brings emacs forward and starts helm-taskswitcher

https://github.com/bdc34/helm-taskswitch

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  • The OP hasn't been seen since the day that he posted this question, so don't expect this to be accepted as the answer. However, it seems to me that it should be accepted as the answer (+1). I certainly don't know of any app to do this, and your solution seems elegant. My only slight worry would be whether opening each new tab in a separate window causes the browser to consume more memory - but I don't know the answer to that. If it works - it works :-) Jan 8, 2018 at 8:10
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    Ya, I'm not sure about the memory. I have a lot of memory on my laptop so it works out fine. I have 23 chrome windows open right now (super easy to count how many due to helm-taskswitch). And thanks.
    – Brian C.
    Jan 8, 2018 at 21:49
  • Do you have a URL for the plugin to chrome that puts $URL $TITLE in title of chrome window ? Jan 9, 2018 at 7:32
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    The chrome plug in for the the title one is called "Url in title" and is here: chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/url-in-title/…
    – Brian C.
    Jan 9, 2018 at 16:47
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    @MawgsaysreinstateMonica I just tried this in Firefox with 30 tabs open. Firefox was using 1.4GB of RAM. When I moved all the open tabs to their own windows, the total RAM being used by the Firefoxi (plural of Firefox?) increased dramatically to 5.6GB. Friends don't let friends use Google Chrome, so I didn't try it. Sep 29, 2021 at 4:45

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