Tuesday, March 09, 2004

OS X Expose

I've been using the Expose feature of the OS X desktop for a few months now without even knowing what it was called. It's a great little feature that's makes working on a crowded desktop easy. Expose is the OS X equivalent to the Windows ALT-TAB feature but done with a mouse gesture and some cool graphics (I've since learned you can use the F9 key too). The feature is activated by moving the mouse pointer to the upper left corner of the desktop This gesture causes all the overlapped windows on the desktop to temporarily shrink and zoom to an open space so you can easily see each open application. From this point you can just click on any of the small windows and the windows zoom back to full size with the windows you clicked on on top. All this happens very quickly and smoothly.

Its a small feature but it works so well I hope it gets ported in some way to Windows. Even if there's some patent on the specific gestures the ALT-TAB feature could be improved by using larger window snapshots instead of icons. If you're like me you tend to have multiple copies of the same application open so ALT-TAB presents you with a list of identical icons. To make matters worse the icons change position as you select them so it becomes a mental puzzle keeping track of their movements in order to cycle through all identical icons.

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