The Alt-Tab Problem

Aza Raskin has written about the problems with interfaces for switching context such as Mac OS X’s command-tab switcher. Read what he says before reading my post here.

Lukas Mathis has written a response.

Summary of the problems:

These switchers arrange applications, windows or tabs in most recently used order. This is good for switching between two applications but disorientating when you go to a third and it breaks the pattern. Apparently it is a problem that these switchers are not in a spatial order.

I do not think the lack of spatial ordering is a problem. For Mac applications, the Dock provides a convenient list of your applications whose position (mostly) does not change. For tabs, how about the tab bar?

The breaking of patterns is a problem. I don't have a magic solution either. I can say that I do not come across this problem myself very often simply because I do not use these switchers. I use the mouse to click between windows, with Exposé if necessary (mapped to a mouse wheel click). I deal with multiple webpages in exacty the same way because I use windows rather than tabs. Shocking!