When Taskbar icons are set to “Combine,” which is the default setting, to switch windows within a Taskbar group, you need to click or hover your mouse pointer over the group icon and then click on the appropriate taskbar thumbnail image. This can be inconvenient especially if you have too many instances of a program running.
There is a hidden registry setting which enables you to select the last active window simply by clicking on the group icon once. Subsequent clicks would cycle through the available window instances in that group. This edit can ease the workflow to a great extent, for many users. Activating the last window using a single-click, and cycling through the other windows using additional clicks on the group icon can be much easier.
Enable “last active” click feature in Taskbar
Start the Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and go to the following key:
Create a DWORD value named LastActiveClick and set its value data to 1.
Exit the Registry Editor. Logoff and login back or restart Explorer for the taskbar setting to take effect.
Automate using REG file
Download lastactiveclick.zip, unzip and run the enclosed REG file. Logoff and login back.
Contents of the REG file
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced] "LastActiveClick"=dword:00000001
Note: This registry setting won’t break the Taskbar thumbnails hover feature. And, without this registry edit, you can still use Ctrl + click to switch windows within a taskbar group.
Applies to Windows 7 and higher.
About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in Windows — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP (2003-2012) who contributes to various Windows support forums.