In Windows 7, a single click or mouse hover over on an icon or button of a running application program on the Task Bar, a preview bar will pop up above the Taskbar with thumbnails of its opened windows. On applications with more than one open windows, user will have to click again one of the preview thumbnails to switch and jump to the window.

So, ultimately users will have to click two times just to switch window and bring up the program that he or she wants to work on, in the event that the program has many open windows. Most of the time, user will want to go back the program’s window where he or she was last working on, thus it’s extra inconvenient having to click twice, not to mention has to scroll through the long list of preview thumbnails (or windows’ title on system without Windows Aero) just to locate the correct window.

Windows 7 does provide several keyboard shortcuts which make navigation between open items easier. For example, Alt + Tab or Win Logo + Tab which jumps between opened windows. It’s also possible to press and hold Ctrl key when click on the program’s icon or button on Taskbar, which immediately bring up the program’s window where user was last active working in. Further click with Ctrl key hold down will reveal subsequent windows.

Some user prefers that when clicking on an icon or button on Windows 7 Taskbar will automatically switch to and activate last active window which user was last working on, and the next window on second click, and so on. There is a registry hack that allows the effect, which effectively reverse the default Windows 7 Taskbar’s behavior. With the hack, the preview bar with thumbnail image or live view will only be shown when user hovers the mouse pointer over, or press and hold the Ctrl and click on the same icon or button.

  1. Run Registry Editor (RegEdit).
  2. Navigate to the following registry key using the tree control:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced

  3. In the right pane, right click on blank space (or click on Edit menu), and select New -> DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  4. Name the new registry value as LastActiveClick.
  5. Double click on LastActiveClick, and assign its value data as 1.
  6. Restart the computer, or restart the Explorer for the change to take effect.

For user who doesn’t want to mess with registry, just download the following registry registration entries file, and run the .reg file to amend the registry automatically.

Enable the Single Click on Taskbar’s Icon or Button for Last Active Window: Enable-Last-Active-Click.reg
Disable the Single Click on Taskbar’s Icon or Button for Last Active Window: Disable-Last-Active-Click.reg

An alternative is to disable the live preview thumbnails on Windows 7 Taskbar.

Check out more Windows 7 tips and tricks.

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