How to switch tabs with a keyboard: 7 savvy shortcuts for changing browser tabs

Typing on a keyboard
(Image credit: Fauxels/Pexels)

There are many reasons why you might prefer using keyboard shortcuts to switch tabs in a web browser instead of relying on a mouse, trackpad, or touchscreen. Keyboard shortcuts can be faster and more efficient, allowing for quick navigation and multitasking without needing to move the cursor constantly.

Using keyboard shortcuts often involves fewer physical movements than using a mouse or trackpad, which is helpful if you want to minimize strain or fatigue. Or you may find using keyboard shortcuts more accessible than using a mouse, especially if you find precise mouse maneuvers challenging.

Whatever your reason, our guide to seven keyboard shortcuts for switching browser tabs will show you how to navigate your web tabs and windows quickly and easily, just by using your keyboard.

Tools and requirements

  • A keyboard
  • A PC, laptop or Mac
  • An open web browser

How to switch tabs with a keyboard

The images for this guide show Chrome running on a Windows laptop.

These shortcuts will work on most operating systems and web browsers, and we'll cover some of the exceptions in the steps below. If you're using MacOS, you can use the same keyboard shortcuts by substituting the command key (⌘) for the control key.

1. Ctrl + Tab – Switch to next tab

(Image: © Future)

To switch to the next tab on your browser, press the control and tab keys simultaneously on your keyboard.

2. Ctrl + Shift + Tab – Switch to previous tab

(Image: © Future)

To switch to the next tab on your browser, use control, shift, and tab.

3. Ctrl + 1-9 – Switch to a specified tab

(Image: © Future)

If you want to switch to a specific tab that's open in your browser, you can use the control key plus any of the number keys. Imagine that your open tabs are numbered, starting with number 1 on the left. If you want to switch to tab 1, press control and the 1 key at the same time.

4. Ctrl + T – Open a new tab

(Image: © Future)

If you want to open a new tab on your browser, press control plus T.

5. Ctrl + Shift + T – Reopen last closed tab

(Image: © Future)

If you have closed a tab and want to reopen it, you can use the control, shift, and T keys to restore it. This will reopen the last tab you closed.

6. Ctrl + N – Open tab in new window

(Image: © Future)

You can also use keyboard shortcuts to open a separate browser window. Simply press control plus the N key to open a tab in a new window.

7. Ctrl + Shift + N – Open tab in new Incognito window

(Image: © Future)

If you're using Chrome, you can open a tab in the Incognito window by pressing control, shift, and N. This also works in Microsoft Edge, where it's known as InPrivate browsing.

Incognito or InPrivate browsing enables you to browse the web without your activity being saved to your history. It also deletes all cookies when you close the browser window.

To do this on a Mac, press command (⌘), shift, and N.

Private browsing is also available on Firefox, but you'll need to press control, shift, and P instead. (In Firefox, the control, shift, and N shortcut reopens the last closed window.)

Whether you're a power user, developer, or someone who simply values efficiency in web browsing, incorporating these keyboard shortcuts into your routine can transform the way you interact with your browser.

Using your keyboard rather than relying on your mouse, trackpad, or touchscreen can give you a smoother and more efficient web browsing experience and enhance speed, precision, and overall productivity.

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Emma Street

Emma Street is a freelance content writer who contributes technology and finance articles to a range of websites, including TechRadar, Tom's Guide,, and BestMoney. Before becoming a freelance writer, she worked in the fintech industry for more than 15 years in a variety of roles, including software developer and technical writer. Emma got her first computer in 1984 and started coding games in BASIC at age 10. (Her long, rambling, [and probably unfinishable] Land of Zooz series still exists on a 5-inch floppy disk up in her parents' loft somewhere.) She then got distracted from coding for a few decades before returning to university in her thirties, getting a Computing Science degree, and realizing her ambition of becoming a fully-fledged geek. When not writing about tech and finance, Emma can be found writing about films, relationships, and tea. She runs a tea blog called and holds some very strong opinions about tea. She has also written a bunch of romance novels and is aided at work by a tech-savvy elderly cat who ensures Emma fully understands all the functions of the F keys so she can quickly undo whatever the cat has just activated while walking over the keyboard.