Fix: Windows 11 ‘Freeze Issue’ When Alt-Tabbing From Any Game

A very common problem that players are encountering is the notorious Windows 11 ‘freeze’ issue when alt-tabbing from a game. This problem has made its appearance when alt-tabbing from games like Valorant, Forza Horizon 5, and more.

When this is happening, the players are saying that their screen freezes and they can’t do anything besides rebooting their computers. This issue has only been encountered on PCs with Windows 11.

After a lot of Windows 11 users have asked for help regardless of this issue, we have decided to look deeper into it to see what causes it. Here’s a shortlist of all the possible reasons:

  • Incompatible apps – It was found by some players that there are applications that are causing this issue when you are alt-tabbing from the game to them. An app that has been found by many people to be the cause is Discord. To fix this, all you have to do is to close the app before you launch the game.
  • Freezing is caused by Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling – According to a lot of affected users, this type of issue is often indirectly caused by a GPU feature (Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling) that causes unexpected freezes due to the way it outsources CPU tasks to your GPU. To resolve this issue, you’ll need to disable hardware-accelerated scheduling from the Graphics tab of your Windows Settings. 
  • System file corruption – Another possible cause that might trigger this Windows 11 issue is some corrupted files that can be found inside your computer. Manually of course you can’t find them, but fortunately, you can use the utility that your Windows has named System File Checker. To fix this, you need to open the Command Prompt with administrator privileges and start the process to see if it will find corrupted files. If there are corrupted files that the check finds, it will repair them. If this doesn’t work you should also consider doing an in-place upgrade or even a clean install if the issue persists. 
  • New tab system glitch – In certain scenarios, you can expect to deal with this issue due to a glitch that’s only present on Windows 11 due to the recent changes that Microsoft implemented to the new alt-tab system. As it turns out, you can avoid this glitch entirely by reverting back to the old alt-tab system using a registry hack. 

Now that you know all the potential causes, here is a list of all the methods that players have used to fix this issue:

1. Close Discord

The first thing you should try to resolve this issue is to close the Discord right now. This application is said to be the cause of the problem for many Windows 11 gamers. 

Discord is a chat application that is commonly used by people when playing games together. But in many cases, the ‘freeze’ screen has appeared when trying to alt-tab from the game to Discord. So all you have to do is entirely close this app before starting the game.

You can do this from the hidden icons menu. Click the arrow on the right side of your taskbar to open it, then search for the Discord app. When you find it, right-click on it and click on Quit Discord to completely close the app.

Inside the hidden icons menu to close the Discord application

After the Discord is closed, you should launch the game to see if it will still crash when you are alt-tabbing.

If the screen still freezes when you do this, check the method below.

2. Disable the Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling

The second thing players recommend you do try is to disable the Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling. You can do this from the settings of your Windows.

The Hardware-Accelerated GPU Scheduling is a feature that takes some of the high-priority tasks from your CPU and passes them to your dedicated GPU. This feature should reduce the input lag of your PC, making the job easier for your processor. But for some people, it was the cause of freeze when alt-tabbing one.

All you have to do is to go to the Display Settings, then go to the Graphics tab and disable the option.

In case you don’t know how to do this, here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Open a Run dialog box by pressing the Windows key + R, then type inside the search bar ‘ms-settings:‘ and press Enter to open the Windows Settings.
    Opening the Windows Settings using a Run dialog box
  2. Once you are inside the Windows Settings, click on System located inside the left side menu. Now click on Display.
    Navigated through the Windows Settings to access Display
  3. When you are inside the Display settings, navigate through the page until you get to Related settings. Below that, you should see the Graphics section. Access it.
    Accessing the Graphics section to find the feature
  4. After that, right under Default settings, you should see a blue button saying Change default graphics settings. When you see it, click on it.
    Changing the default graphics settings
  5. Now the option should appear on your screen. Right under Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling, you should see a blue toggle saying that the feature is On. Click on the toggle to disable the feature.
    Disabling the Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling feature
  6. Once you’ve done that, you need to reboot your PC to make the changes apply.
  7. When your computer boots back, test the game to see if the issue still appears.

If this method wasn’t helpful as well, go to the next method below.

3. Check for system file corruption

Another thing that you should try is to check the system for corrupted or harmed files. This issue has appeared in some cases due to some corrupted files that were now letting the PC work properly.

You can do this using the System File Checker that your Windows has. This is a utility that checks your computer for problematic files, and if it finds any they will be repaired.

All you have to do is to open Command Prompt with administrator privileges and type some commands that will start the verification.

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to do this:

  1. The first thing you need to do is to open the Command Prompt. Open a Run dialog box by pressing the Windows key + R and type ‘cmd‘ inside the search bar, then press CTRL + Shift + Enter to open it with administrator privileges.
    Opening the Command Prompt with admin privileges using a Run dialog box
  2. You will be prompted by the User Account Control, click on Yes to allow the administrator privileges to Command Prompt.
  3. After you are inside the Command Prompt, you need to type the following command to start the verification:
    DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth

    Note: This process will possibly take a few minutes, so wait until it is done.

    Starting the file verification using Command Prompt
  4. Once the process is complete, you need to type the following command for the second and last step of this verification:
    sfc /scannow
  5. After this step is complete as well, all that’s left to do is to type ‘exit‘ to close the Command Prompt.
    Finalizing the system file check
  6. Now you need to launch the game to see if the alt-tabbing issue still appears.

If the error still occurs at the same time, try the next possible fix below.

4. Revert to the old alt-tab system

Players are recommending you try to revert the old alt-tab system in order to fix the ‘freeze’ when alt-tabbing from games issue. A lot of players have managed to fix this issue by bringing back the old alt-tab switcher.

You can revert to the old alt-tab system by using the Registry Editor. All you have to do is to create a DWORD value that will change the switcher.

In case you don’t know how to do this, here is a guide that will show you the exact steps:

  1. The first thing you need to do is to open a Run dialog box by pressing the Windows key + R. Then, inside the search bar type ‘regedit‘ and press Enter to open the Registry Editor.
    Using a Run dialog box to open the Registry Editor
  2. Once you are inside the Registry Editor, you need to find the Explorer folder. To find it, you have to use the search option located on the upper side of the screen to insert the following address:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
  3. After that, you should be directed to the folder. Right-click on Explorer, then highlight New and click on DWORD (32-bit) Value to create a new value.
    Creating a new DWORD value inside the Explorer folder
  4. Now after the new value has been created, you need to name it AltTabSettings.
    Naming the new value AltTabSettings
  5. Once you’ve done that, double click on the AltTabSettings value and change the Value data to 1. After that, click on Ok.
    Changing the value data to restore the old alt-tab system
  6. When you are done with that, you need to restart your computer to apply the new changes.
  7. After your PC boots back completely, launch the game you want to play to see if the error still occurs.

If the error still occurs when you are alt-tabbing from the game, go to the next method below.

5. Run an in-place upgrade

It was reported by some affected players that another way that you can fix this issue is to run an in-place upgrade. This will help you get rid of the ‘freeze’ when alt-tabbing from games issue, as well as other Windows problems.

This process has the role to upgrade your computer to the latest version and repairing all issues without deleting any files, and can also help to repair corrupted system files, apps, and incompatible drivers. 

All you have to do is to download the Windows 11 Disk Image, then follow the instructions to complete the process.

Here’s a guide that will show you how to do this:

  1. You need to start by visiting the official Microsoft download page.
  2. Once you are inside the page, scroll down until you find Download Windows 11 Disk Image (ISO), then select the edition from the drop-down menu. After that, click on Download Now.
    Downloading the Windows 11 Disk Image
  3. You will need to select the language. After that, you will finally be able to download the installer.
    Starting the download of the Windows upgrade
  4. Wait until the download is complete. When is complete, access the file and open the setup.exe.
    Starting the setup of the Windows 11 upgrade
  5. You will be prompted by the User Account Control, click on Yes to proceed with the action.
  6. After you do this, click on Next to let the installer check if your PC is good to continue the installation. This process might take a while depending on your PC specs, network connection, and other factors.
  7. On the next screen, you will be asked if you want to keep your personal files and apps or if you want to get rid of them. Choose the Keep personal files and apps option, then click on Next to continue.
     Choosing if you want to keep your files and apps or not
  8. Once you’ve done that, all that is left to do is to start the installation. Click on Install to start the process.
    Starting the installation process of the Windows 11 upgrade
  9. The Windows will upgrade automatically, and through this process, your PC will reboot a few times. You need to wait until the installation is complete.
  10. Once the installation is complete and your PC is back on, launch the game to see if the problem still appears even after doing this.

In case neither of the methods before has fixed your Windows 11 ‘freeze’ when alt-tabbing from a game issue, go check the last possible fix below.

6. Install Windows 10

The last thing that you can try in order to fix this issue is to install Windows 10. Many players have managed to get rid of the issue by doing a clean install of Windows 10.

This issue has only been encountered on Windows 11, so if none of the methods shown before have fixed your issue, the last thing you can try is to go back to Windows 10. This will surely repair your system, but maybe you don’t want to downgrade to the old Windows version.

In case you decide that you want to do this, all you have to do is to do a clean install of Windows 10. This procedure is not very hard to do but will lose all your personal data if you backed it up before starting the process.

After successfully installing Windows 10, all that’s left to do is launch the game you want to play. Test it to see if the freeze’ when alt-tabbing from the game issue still appears.

Kamil Anwar
Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.

Expert Tip

Fix: Windows 11 ‘Freeze Issue’ When Alt-Tabbing From Any Game

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