Quickly return to last open window in Windows 7

Ever had multiple windows open of Outlook, had to switch to some other applications and then just want to return to the last window that you had open in Outlook without first needing to go through all the previews?

There is a keyboard shortcut for that in Windows 7 and I find myself using it basically every day so I thought I’d share it for today’s tip.

I’m not sure if I should call it a bad habit or if I can claim to be busy, but after working a while behind my computer, I often have quite a few of applications running with multiple windows open;

  • Outlook is running with the reminder dialog open and sometimes some open messages.
  • Internet Explorer is running with quite some few tabs open.
  • Windows Explorer is running with several folders opened.
  • Windows Virtual PC is running with multiple virtual computers running.

I’m sure many can relate but maybe with different applications though ;-) .

If you also need to switch between those applications, that is when the issue begins for me…

The thing is that when you want to return to a running application with multiple windows open on Windows 7, you are presented with a list of thumbnails to choose from (Aero Peek is the official name of this feature). While this is a great feature on its own, it can be quite annoying as well if all you want to do is quickly return to the last window you were in of that application (or tab in the case of Internet Explorer). Trying to find it in the list of previews and needing to click again is just a waste of time

Long introduction short …

Hold the CTRL button when clicking on the application in your Taskbar.

Windows 7 will now automatically bring you back to the last window you were in for that application. When using this on Internet Explorer, it will bring you back to the tab that you were using last. Click again while still holding the CTRL button to cycle through the open windows (in usage order!).

Hold CTRL when clicking on the application to quickly restore the last open window for that application
Hold CTRL when clicking on the application to quickly restore its last open window.

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