Computer: Desktop
Alt Tab Start Button   (+2)  [vote for, against]
For when you're task switching to something that isn't there.

Every now and then I find myself alt- tabbing (or apple tabbing depending on where I am) to try to switch to an application that I don't have open.

When alt-tabbing, I'd like an icon to appear as one of my running programs that represents applications that can be launched. When I alt-tab to it, I want it to pop up a window (or bring a layer, dashboard-like over the desktop) which has programs I can launch. They could be optionally be arranged to mimic a keyboard with letters by them so that I can launch the icon I want with a single keypress.

So, to launch something new I alt+tab, tab, tab and hit a single key.
-- st3f, Aug 09 2007

There probably is. I'm looking to fill a certain niche, though. Picture me, having hit alt+tab, still holding alt and staring at the screen like a goldfish wondering where that program is... you know... the one that I was sure I opened a while back.

That's the niche.

I want a launcher that is easily accessible to someone who has already hit alt+tab.
-- st3f, Aug 09 2007

Alt-tab should also suggest the Excel tab you were previously on (even if it's not in a different file). Often I alt-tab through all the options only to realize the file I want is the very one I'm currently in.
-- phundug, Aug 09 2007

I just tried hitting alt tab. It was my first time. I saw a bunch of icons.
-- bungston, Aug 09 2007

Alt-tab is routinely used during presentations to switch between powerpoint, dvd playback, flash and anything else you might need to show, when budget prohibits running everything on separate machines and using a graphics switcher. I would hate to see the mechanism clogged with extra icons as it's messy enough having those tacky icons onscreen for more than a second. So long as this idea allows you to switch between open applications as quickly as possible, I'll bun it.
-- wagster, Aug 09 2007

Hi sexy, whatever!
-- po, Aug 09 2007

On a Mac, this is somewhat of a non-issue if you use the dock instead of the task switcher to change tasks. The default shortcut for this is ctrl+f3. It has a list of all applications running AND a list of non-running applications as specified by the user. One can also, after selecting the app, hit the up arrow to select between options and to select specific windows, if need be of it.

Macs also have quicksilver (a freeware utility), which is a nifty application launcher that can be used to switch windows and launch applications or open documents. The latter serves a somewhat different purpose, but in my experience works perfectly for the issue you're talking about. I don't use apple+tab on my Mac (nor do I use ctrl+f3).
-- aguydude, Aug 09 2007

One of the only things I like about Powerbooks is their ability to output different displays at different resolutions from their VGA outputs.
-- wagster, Aug 09 2007

//On a Mac, this is somewhat of a non- issue // I agree. There are loads of very nice ways to do this kind of thing on a Mac.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 09 2007

I diasgree. I'm a Mac user at home and posted this idea because I have tried to apple-tab to programs that weren't there. You may choose to use a different technique to task-switch and you may consider that superior, but that doesn't make the idea redundant in the same way as the invention of the motor-car hasn't made me stop using my walking boots.
-- st3f, Aug 13 2007

This reminds me of my hatred towards Windows, 'featuring some mouse-activated functions' interface. Whenever I had to push on efficiency, I went back to the begginning (the command line). That is, zero-mouse interface, which is something that still works.

Even game consoles beat Windows in that sense. I'd rather go use an ExcelENDO sheet, or a WordStation3 document, than patch-working, cracking and over-cracking the goddamn Windows switcher on top of Windows' Reboot? Why not? You-lose-everything on top of MS-DOS 640 kb memory -and the rest is too much for me to have it properly allocated f.cking system

THE big problem is, nobody overcame the whole DOS-based system and presented a completely, truly, user-backfed, user-friendly interface. Nowadays, you need to be an ultra-advanced user in order to troubleshoot your first single audio double-click decoder failure, or else, become an expert printer driver hacker so that your 1-page resume gets its final full-stop inkjet. Some day or the other, the computer-nonliterate people of the world will alt-tab all of this jabberwocky out, and it will take just a single mouse-circle movement for them to achieve so.

Aaaaah... (relief outbreath)
-- mayihave, Aug 13 2007

random, halfbakery