October 02, 2005

Utility of the week: TaskSwitchXP

I enjoyed playing with Entbloess but more for its aesthetic value than its practicality.  With TaskSwitchXP, I might have found a task switcher that is actually better than Windows' default one.

TaskSwitchXP has many features, but there are really two that I already started getting quite used to:

  • A bulleted list of the available tasks, as shown above.  Windows' default task switcher only shows you icons of the tasks, and will only display text when you put the focus on one of them.  With TaskSwitchXP, you can see the name of the tasks right away and navigate there in a completely foolproof way (you can also use the mouse and multiple selection).
  • Being able to move any task to the system tray.  Not all programs let you minimize them in the tray and end up taking up an entire slot in the task bar, which can become sparse pretty quick.

You don't really realize how much you depend on task switching until you try another utility than Window's default one.  And when you do, the first thing you really want is for the behavior to be exactly the same.  Not only do I use Alt-Tab and Alt-Shift-Tab a lot, I now have very precise expectations on the stacking order of my windows.

I use both Windows XP and Linux at work, and I realize this fact the hard way every day whenever I try to task-switch on KDE.  Not only is the task switcher ugly and very hard to use (very small icons), it uses a stacking order logic that I still haven't been able to completely figure out.

As far as I can tell, TaskSwitchXP is completely compatible with the default task switcher and it also adds interesting features like being able to switch only between the instances of your current window (for example, you are in a FireFox window and you want to switch to another FireFox windows).  The default hotkey for this functionality is a bit awkward, so I 'll probaby want to change it (TaskSwitchXP is completely configurable), but once I have found one that I want, I will probably start using this feature a lot.

I'm curious to revisit this choice in a few weeks and find out if I have gotten hooked to it.  In the meantime, try it, it's small, inconspicuous and completely free.


Posted by cedric at October 2, 2005 01:03 PM

nice coincidence, i also got hooked on TaskSwitchXP 2 days ago. Though since then i had WinXP drop back to 640x480 at 16 colors once. Looks to me as if the graphics driver spontaneously unloaded - if thats possible at all. Might have to do with Winamp playing a video stream?
So i'll monitor it some more time before it can become another indispensible free tool like these:
irfanview, filezilla, winscp, firefox, eraser, winamp, unired, leechget, putty, winmerge, gnu unix tools for win32 and just about anything from sysinternals

Posted by: at October 2, 2005 02:42 PM

Thanks for the hint. I've been slowing coveting the speed of my ThinkPad vs my Powerbook, and spending more time on it.. this will help...

Posted by: Geir Magnusson Jr at October 2, 2005 03:56 PM

anonymous, how about cygwin ?
if you like winscp, you will probably like scp and ssh.

for diffing -- nothing like xemacs and wDiff32. Winmerge for directory comparison.


Posted by: Anjan Bacchu at October 2, 2005 11:15 PM

Also try "Alt-Tab Thingy". It works well for me.

Posted by: anon at October 4, 2005 03:18 PM

Alt-Tab Thingy is way beyond TaskSwitch at all levels

So far TaskSwtich is not only the best utility I have found, but it does not screw your system as tend doing deskspace or (worst) CubeDesktop on certain occasions (hibernation, interrupted processes, etc.)

Deskspace is quite reliable and interesting as long as your working session is not interrupted, then it works pretty well.

In a professional environment I would stick to TaskSwitch

Posted by: admsupport at February 12, 2009 07:23 PM
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