Today in one of my classes I was watching a powerbook user in front of me. It made me think once again of a problem that everyone faces (well, almost everyone) in OS X and that is navigating the desktop and managing screen real esate. The three main ways in which we navigate the interface are (saving the finder for other people to debate) expose, the dock and the dashboard. This also ignores spotlight for the time being. The dock has gotten some flack since it was first put down there, but its pretty useful. You can have all of your most commonly used apps in there along with shortcuts if you need them to folders. I personally only have 12 apps in there and one shortcut (to documents) because I find that the finder does a perfectly good job of navigating these sort of things. Then there is Expose, for navigating windows. Expose is already pretty much perfect. I use it just about every five seconds. The only complaint that I have is that on a large screen with a lot of apps open, using expose can result in a ton of very small windows. Especially when you're dealing with word or many similar documents that are hard to recognize at that size you can often click on the wrong window. This is problem #1. The major problem for me is with the dashboard. I have a fairly large monitor and I still find that my dashboard fills up very quickly. Once again, I only use 4 or 5 widgets at a time, but I use sticky notes as well. And occasionally I'll open other widgets and leave them open. What you end up with is a ton of widgets stacked on top of each other with the only way to access them being to click and drag (sound familiar? Think, OS 10.2 window navigation). Considering expose already took care of this problem years ago you'd think that apple would utilize a similar technology to move and access widgets. This is problem #2. But the thing is, correcting problem #2 by simply adding expose to the dashboard does not work because expose had a problem of its own. The solution is actually very simple and so obvious I wonder why apple hasn't done it. The solution has been there since the first release of OS X with the format of the dock. The dock grows from very small to large as you scroll over it, allowing you to maintain screen real estate while easily selecting and seeing which app your mouse is on. In addition, it has the ability to hide beneath the desktop. This function is very important. In essence, the dock can exist outside of the Mac OS X desktop. Applying this to expose we come up with two simple solutions. That is, when you expose all windows, the individual windows take up very little space so that you can see all of them, but when you scroll over a window to select it, that window grows to meet the mouse. This way you can see which window you want and still have open many windows. The second and somewhat more important idea is this: you can "hide" windows from expose. Now, mind you, you can technically do this already by simply minimizing a window into the dock and leaving it there while you expose. But this idea works better. What you do is give the user the options to in a quick motion push a document or application window "off" the desktop (to either the left or right side) and then have the "window dock" take care of this task. As is, OS X has the option to have the dock be on the side of the screen, but it doesn't really serve a point. What you do here is seperate windows from applications. Applications go in the bottom dock and document windows can hide in the side dock or similar visual idea, and then you can drag them out onto the desktop and *poof*, they're back in expose. Does this sound similar at all to another Apple interface? The dashboard, you say! Why of course. The dashboard can now be unified with expose. Here's how: dashboard widgets automatically shrink when your expose fills up too much into smaller sizes in a dynamic way. Then when you scroll your mouse over the widget it grows to meet you. Widgets are already designed perfectly to be instantly recognizable by shape and colour, so why leave them so unecassarily large all of the time? Also, move the dashboard "dock" to the top of the screen and now you've set up an easy rule for the user to follow. That is, applications go in the dock in the bottom, document windows go on the sides and widgets go on the dashboard at the top. Doesn't it make more sense to have the dashboard at the "front"/top of the desktop as is? This way you can use or at least see both the dock and the dashboard at once. Sheesh Apple, why haven't you thought of this?