Why Is Control (Ctrl) TAB Used for a Macro?

I just don't understand why CONTROL TAB has been hijacked by KeyboardMaestro. Am I the only one who switches between tabs in Safari, Finder, Forklift,Textmate, etc...?

Even more bizarre, i can't get the popup (window switcher) that CONTROL TAB calls to do anything. It just sits there. Just what is that thing, and what is it supposed to do? I've tried to find something in the manual, but no explanation of what it does AFTER it opens.

And I really don't see why I should have to slog through tiny letters (on the webpage) to find out what something does, only to find how it is invoked, and that's it.

As far as I can tell, there is no explanation of how to do anything but invoke the "Window Switcher." Apparenlty, guessing must be what you do.

I don't have time, or patience for that. I want simpler, and easier; not more difficult, and ridiculously complex for no reason.

Maybe I missed something?

Control Tab is used as the default hot key for the Window Switcher. Its not something I can remember anyone else ever commenting on, so I would guess that yes, no one else apparently using Control-Tab to switch tabs in Safari, Finder, etc.

You can change the hot key, or disable or delete the Window Switcher - the macro is in the Switcher Group, which is described in the Window Switcher section of the documentation.

I’m not sure what else you want documented - the window switcher switches between windows. It shows the windows, and you select the one you want to switch to. As described in the documentation, you can make windows to be closed or minimised.

What else do you think needs to be documented?

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lol I feel so alone, so different.

I changed the “hot key,” and it’s working the way I use it.

Thanks for the link. Previously all I could find is this link :link: . I didn’t see the link to the referenced page at the bottom.

  • Is there anyway to make that window “sticky?” (mine disappears when I release the CONTROL key)

It will disappear if the modifiers change (generally indicating acceptance of the selection).

If the trigger does not have any modifiers (eg F6 or some other trigger like a Palette or Status Menu trigger), then it will not disappear until you select an item or press escape.

Got it, thanks.

This thread saved my life.. or rather, the life of Keyboard Maestro. I was playing around with it and this was driving me crazy. I use ctrl-tab to switch between browser tabs all the time and had I been forced to choose between that and not using KM, it would've been easy. Now I disabled this as well as the application switcher (takes me too long to get used to using only cmd-shift to move left, cmd-shift-tab is easy enough for me anyway). I've yet to find any actual use for KM but at least now the annoyances are gone.

NEVER replace existing functionality with something else. Feel free to add your own option the user can change to replace it if they so choose, but this was messed up. I can't believe more people who prefer to actually use keyboard don't use it. Can't live without it.


Same issue. I use ctrl-tab very often in browsers, terminals, etc. I agree with the above poster that it's rough when a program replaces existing functionality with something else, unexpectedly, and especially without a dialog about what's happening or how to change it.

I suggest that Keyboard Maestro could have the best of both worlds by adding a first-use dialog.

The dialog could provide advice and help, akin to "You're pressing $hotkey. Keyboard Maestro would like to use this hotkey to run $macro. Ok?"

The choices could be akin to "Yes: use this hotkey to run this macro.", "No: keep this hotkey as is, do not run this macro.", "Change: pick a different hotkey to run this macro.".

IMHO this is much more user-friendly. And also as a bonus, this helps new users understand the power of Keyboard Maestro, and the customizability. The dialog is akin to a just-in-time coach, which is an excellent kind of user interface for onboarding new users.


Couldn't agree more with previous posters. ctrl-tab is absolutely essential for my day-to-day workflow. I am currently evaluating Keyboard Maestro, and was very short to just kick it off my machine because of this.
Thanks to this thread testing continues, however I am also a bit startled about re-defining common system shortcuts without any question or hint about how to restore default behaviour.


I have to chime in here. I'm a brand new KBM user and this was driving me crazy as I am in the middle of creating my second macro and I wanted to RECORD using the Ctrl+Tab keystroke to switch tabs in Chrome.

Thanks to peternlewis's answer, I was able to change the default to something that didn't interfere with a keystroke that I use a LOT.

I particularly want to applaud joelparkerhenderson's suggestion of developing a a "just-in-time coach" as a user interface for onboarding new users. While not trivial, it's also does not appear to be prohibitively difficult to implement and would be a great complement to the feature of warning you if you define a trigger that is already in use, which is another form of "just-in-time coach".


The Forum is asking me if I want to bump this old topic. I'm doing that specifically because someone mentioned that they can't remember anyone ever having this problem before. Here's hoping that he and others will remember that this is indeed a problem for new users, as evidenced by all the others who have added their voices to this thread, year after year.


Bumping this thread was useful to me: I think I have the Keyboard Maestro switcher “stacked on top of” another one - probably the Alfred one.

This thread was very helpful. I actually accidentally disabled the hotkey for the window switcher. I didn't know what the function was called but thought it was very nifty. Now I was able to restore it :slight_smile: