Cmd-Tab (App switcher) problems

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by PierreV1, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. PierreV1

    PierreV1 Bit poster

    I constantly use Cmd-Tab (sometimes called App switcher) to switch between various applications on my Mac, including a Win7 VM (full screen mode).
    • The first thing I never understood is why I see two icons for Parallels when i hit Cmd-Tab: one for Parallels Desktop (red arrow) and one for my Win7 VM? (green arrow). I don't see the point in showing two icons, as selecting both has the same effect: it drops me in my Win7 VM.

      cmd-tab one VM.jpg

    • More importantly however is the following behavior (the problem is identical if you use the Dock icons instead of Cmd-Tab):
      a) if I Cmd-Tab to the VM icon (green arrow), I land in my Win7 VM, which is expected.
      b) However, after this switch if I once again hit Cmd-Tab (without releasing), notice (below) that both icons (red and green arrow) have moved to the far left, with the "highlighted" app being my Win7 VM - this makes no sense because it means that if I release CMD-Tab at this point I will land in the app that I am currently in (that's what you would think anyway... read on!).
      cmd-tab two.jpg
      c) Releasing Cmd-Tab at this point switches me to... the Finder.

    • This behavior is not too problematic when running a single VM because selecting the "red arrow" icon does not lead to this problem. However, it's when running more than one VM that the fun begins: specifically, there is simply no way to switch back and forth between two VMs:
      a) Let's start with the following scenario:
      cmd-tab three.jpg
      Red arrow is the Parallels Desktop icon, pink arrow is a CentOS VM, and green arrow is a Win7 VM. My goal is to do a bunch of cut/paste between the Win7 VM and CentOS VM - so I switch to the Win7 VM (green arrow) by selecting it via Cmd-Tab
      b) So far so good - I land in Win7 VM and as before, both red and green arrows have moved to the left, and the CentOS VM (pink arrow) stays somewhat to the right (see below):
      cmd-tab four.jpg
      c) So I copy what I need in the Win7 VM and Cmd-Tab to the CentOS VM (pink arrow) - when I release Cmd-Tab, I end up in some random app instead of my CentOS VM (in this case it was the Finder).
      d) At this point, pressing Cmd-Tab again (while I'm in the Finder) reveals the following:
      cmd-tab fivw.jpg
      The app in which I landed is at the complete left (Finder), and the app I actually wanted is the third from the left. If I again select the CentOS VM (pink), I will finally switch to that VM. In other words, I need tp Cmd-Tab twice to the same VM in order to actually land in that full-screen VM. Note that this is not how it works for any other app: if I want to switch to Chrome, I Cmd-Tab to it and I'm there - same for all apps except Parallels VMs.
    I could go on but at this point the summary of the problem is that if I want to go back and forth between two VMs, I have to select the VMs twice in App Switcher (Cmd-Tab). Remember that this is also true for the Dock, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
    I hope there's a solution to this, thanks for looking!

  2. AlexanderS7

    AlexanderS7 Bit poster

    I have spend a day on it, and got some satisfactory solution, which I share below.

    I am running Parallels 16 / Mac OS 11.1
    I have a similar problem with only one VM. In the app switcher I see two icons: "Parallels Desktop" and "Widows VM" were appearing in the doc and in the app switcher, and when Cmd-tab, they were behaving irregularly:
    1) when Cmd-tab to "Parallels Desktop" it would show control center or nothing if the control center window was closed
    2) if cmd-tab to "Widows VM" it would show windows VM (full screen) but reorder the icons in the app switcher so that I would see "Parallel Desktop" and "Widows VM" as first two choices. Same as in the post above. To switch between some mac-os app and the VM I would need to press cmd-tab twice each time, which is unacceptable. My fingers hurt in the end of a busy day even without this.

    By tweaking around, I found that this particular combination of options resolved the issues for me:

    System Preferences -> Mission Control -> When switching to an application, switch to a space with open windows for the application (ON)
    Parallel Desktop Menu Bar -> Parallel Desktop -> Preferences -> General -> Virtual Machine Dock icons: None

    (If you don't see Parallel Desktop in the menu bar, make sure that the Control Center window is active, activate it by menu -> Window -> Control Center)

    After this I see only one icon "Parallels Desktop" and when switching to it is brings on the full screen VM.
    Alternative switching methods is swipe between desktops gesture or Ctrl-left/right arrow (allows to switch between VM and mac OS whatever window was there active last).

    The only remaining issue is the animation lag when switching between full screen and back. This can be reduced by setting
    System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Display -> Reduce Motion (On)
    (some lag still remains, looking for a hack how to force the app switcher not to show any animation at all or speed it up to instant)

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