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Quick Tip: Add the Flip3D feature to the Windows 7 Taskbar

Using only a simple desktop shortcut, you can add Flip3D functionality to the Windows 7 Taskbar. Mark Kaelin shows you how to make it happen.

Windows Vista had a graphical feature for switching between open applications called Flip3D, which was located on the Taskbar. However, for some reason that feature is absent from the Windows 7 Taskbar. If you like to get it back, all you have to do is create a desktop shortcut with a specific command and pin it to the Taskbar.

Note: Flip3D is still part of the Windows 7 interface via a keyboard shortcut: [Windows key] + [Tab]. But by pinning a shortcut to the Taskbar, you will be able to get the feature with the mouse, which can come in handy if you aren't in a good position to get two hands on the keyboard. This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery and TechRepublic download.

Create the shortcut

To start, right-click on an empty part of the Windows Desktop and navigate to New | Shortcut, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Create a shortcut on the Windows Desktop.
In the location box of the shortcut (Figure B), type in this command:
RunDll32 DwmApi #105

Figure B

Type this command: RunDll32 DwmApi #105.
Click the Next button, give your new shortcut the name Flip3D (Figure C), and click Finish.

Figure C

Name the shortcut Flip3D.
Your new shortcut has a generic icon, so it is a good idea to give it an icon that has some meaning. Right-click the shortcut and navigate to the Properties configuration screen, as shown in Figure D. Click the Change Icon button.

Figure D

Open the Shortcut Properties screen.
On the Change Icon configuration screen (Figure E), browse to the Windows directory and select explorer.exe as your icon source. I used the Flip3D icon, but you can use any icon you wish. After you choose your icon, click OK twice to close the Properties screen.

Figure E

Choose an icon for your Flip3D shortcut.
You should have a shortcut on your Windows Desktop that loads the Flip3D feature. To make the feature more useful, drag the shortcut to the Windows 7 Taskbar and pin it there, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Flip3D is a single-click away in Windows 7.

Now, when you click your new Flip3D icon from the Windows Taskbar, your open applications will fly up into a three-dimensional flip book. Using the mouse wheel, you can scroll through them and pick the one you would like to make active.

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

15 comments
watto
watto

Not only did it not work, the shortcut can't be eaasily deleted. My advice: leave it alone.

SubgeniusD
SubgeniusD

FTA - "which can come in handy if you aren???t in a good position to get two hands on the keyboard". Windows key is a couple inches from tab key. Using 2 hands would in fact be more awkward then using one. Also since I use Systernals Desktops I rarely have the taskbar cluttered up with a lot of pgms - but thanks for reminding me about this feature. Could come in handy.

gsloman
gsloman

about that and how useful it is

rob
rob

This doesn't seem to work on my system, Win 7 64bit, Windows creates the shortcut, so I know the dll is there, but when I run it nothing happens. I wonder if its because I moved my user files (including my desktop) to another drive (to save space on my SSD.)

SoftwareArchitect
SoftwareArchitect

Perhaps I am missing something, but I believe Windows-Tab will do the same thing.

KurtSATX
KurtSATX

...already but this is a cool little widget to have around anyway. Thanks for tossing it out there.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I would much rather just replace the Alt-Tab behaviour. I will never stop pressing alt-tab, it's intuitive. I would like a way to simply make windows use Flip3D instead. (My keyboard is strange(See: what used to be normal) and there aren't "normal" windows keys so it would be inconvenient for me)

Scott Weppler
Scott Weppler

I am in the habit of using [WindowsKey][Tab] and would not use the taksbar shortcut. This is a good reminder of how you can automate things with rundll32.exe though.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Admittedly, I don't use Flip3D, but plenty of users do, are you one of them? Is having an icon on the Taskbar for easy access to this feature, like it was in Vista, something you will use?

jim.lonero
jim.lonero

From the mouse, with this shortcut, you can flip to a 3D of all your screens (no keboarding needed), you can scroll through all your open windows with the mouse scroll wheel, and you can select any window (whether its on top or not) with the mouse by clicking on it. Pretty easy. (For those out there who use the touchpad, how easy is it for you?)

Agave
Agave

"Note: Flip3D is still part of the Windows 7 interface via a keyboard shortcut: [Windows key] + [Tab]."

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Seems like you should be able to change the behavior of that shortcut key combination.