Top 6 Ways to Fix Black Screen on Pressing Alt + Tab on Windows

The Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut helps to switch between open windows quickly. But what if you see a black screen on using the shortcut? It’s a common problem due to outdated drivers, misconfigured system settings, and the monitor’s game mode feature.

If your screen goes black on pressing Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut on your Windows computer, you have come to the right place. In this article, we’ll explore six ways to fix a black screen on pressing Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut on Windows 10 and Windows 11.

1. Change the Display Mode of the Application (Game)

The black screen issue usually appears when tabbing out of a full-screen game. It can be due to the incompatibility between the game display mode and display settings of your Windows computer.

If you see a black screen when using Alt+Tab keyboard shortcut while playing a game in full screen mode, change the display mode of that game to fix the issue. To do that, go to your game’s graphic settings and set the display mode to Windowed.

Windowed option of a game

If the black screen appears when using Alt+Tab shortcut of other applications, run them in windowed mode and check if it makes any difference. Here’s how to do that:

Step 1: Right-click on the program and choose Properties from the context menu.

Properties option in the context menu

Step 2: Switch to the Shortcut tab. Then, in the Target field, type -window at the end of the file path.

Editing the Target field

Step 3: Click Apply and then OK.

2. Adjust Your Monitor’s Refresh Rate

A refresh rate refers to the number of times your display updates the image per second. For instance, if you have a 120Hz monitor, it will update the on-screen image 120 times per second.

Configuring your computer to a higher refresh rate can help improve the display quality. But if your monitor doesn’t support the configured refresh rate, you’ll likely have issues like getting a black screen using the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut.

As such, if you have configured your monitor to a higher refresh rate, change it to its default settings to solve the issue. You can do that by following the below instructions:

Step 1: Press the Windows + I keyboard shortcut to open the Settings app.

Step 2: Choose System from the left sidebar and select Display from the right pane.

Display option in Settings

Step 3: Choose Advanced display.

Advanced display option in Settings

Step 4: Click the drop-down icon next to Choose a refresh rate option and choose 60Hz from the list. Note that you’ll need to choose a refresh rate that your monitor supports. But even if you have a 120Hz or a higher rate monitor, choose 60Hz to troubleshoot the problem.

Choose a refresh rate option in Settings

Step 5: Choose the Keep changes button from the prompt that appears.

Keep changes option in Settings

3. Disable Your Monitor Game Mode

Many monitors come with a built-in game mode feature that you can enable to get a better refresh rate, faster response time, FreeSync, HDR, and much more. Sometimes, these features may cause more harm than good due to compatibility issues with your OS.

When the screen goes black on pressing Alt + Tab, you may disable your monitor game mode to solve the issue. Below are the steps to disable Game Mode on an LG monitor. If you’re using any other brand monitor, check out its user manual to learn more about turning off the game mode for the model you own.

Step 1: Press the physical button on your monitor’s back and go to Menu.

Menu of LG monitor

Step 2: Choose Game Adjust from the left sidebar.

Game Adjust option in Monitor

Step 3: Choose Response Time in the right pane and select Off.

Response time off in Game menu

Next, set Off for all other options in the right pane. Then, restart your computer and check if the issue persists.

4. Update the Graphics Driver

The black screen issue while you use Alt+Tab may also appear due to a corrupt or outdated graphics driver. To fix that, you’ll need to download the latest graphics driver update.

The best way to update the graphics driver is to visit your graphics card manufacturer’s website (NVIDIAAMD, or Intel) and download the latest update. Alternatively, you can use the Device Manager to update the graphics driver. Here’s how to do that on Windows:

Step 1: Press the Windows key to open the Start Menu, type Device Manager in the search bar, and press Enter.

Device Manager option in Start Menu

Step 2: Double-click on the Display adapters.

_Display Adapters in Device Manager

Step 3: Right-click on your dedicated graphics driver and choose Update driver.

_Update driver option in the Device Manager

Step 4: In the Update driver window that appears, select the ‘Search automatically for drivers option.’ Windows will search for and download the latest available graphics drivers.

_Search automatically for drivers option in the Device Manager

Besides updating the graphics driver, it’s important that you have the latest Windows update installed on your computer.

To update Windows, open the settings menu and choose Windows Update from the left sidebar. Then, click the Check for updates options in the right pane.

Check for Updates option in Windows Settings

After downloading and installing the update, check if you still see a black screen using the Alt + Tab keyboard shortcut.

5. Disable Full Screen Optimization

Full-screen optimization is a Windows feature that automatically adjusts application display settings for best performance and stability. Usually, it works fine with most programs; for others, it might cause issues like input lag or a black screen.

You’ll have to disable full-screen optimization for that application causing a black screen when you use Alt+Tab keyboard shortcut. Follow the below steps to do that:

Step 1: Right-click on the problematic application and choose Properties from the context menu.

Step 2: Switch to the Compatibility tab. Then, check the ‘Disable fullscreen optimization’ option.

Disable fullscreen optimization option in context menu

Step 3: Click Apply and OK.

6. Change NVIDIA Control Panel Settings

If you have an NVIDIA graphics card, you can use the NVIDIA Control Panel to fix the black screen issue. Configure the Preferred refresh rate option from the NVIDIA’s control panel app. Here’s a step-by-step instructions to do that:

Step 1: Open the Start Menu, type NVIDIA Control Panel, and press Enter.

NVIDIA Control Panel in Start Menu

Step 2: Double-click on 3D Settings in the left sidebar.

3D Settings option in NVIDIA Control Panel

Step 3: Select Manage 3D settings.

Manage 3D settings in NVIDIA Control Panel

Step 4: Under the Settings section, click the drop-down icon next to Preferred refresh rate and choose Application-controlled.

Preferred refresh rate in NVIDIA Control Panel

Step 5: Click Apply.

That will let the applications control the refresh rate and not let the GPU chip force it on the app.

Fixing the Black Screen Issue

A black screen is a very issue that’s been with Windows since its inception. Worry not if you encounter a black screen when using Alt+Tab keyboard shortcut of full-screen games or apps. You can quickly troubleshoot this problem by following the above solutions.

Meanwhile, you might be interested to know what to do when Alt + Tab is not working at all in Windows 11.

Last updated on 20 April, 2023

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