How do you Multitask in OS X?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by andy06, Feb 16, 2012.


Which is your preferred method?

  1. Dock (Clicking on App Icons)

  2. Cmd+Tab (App switcher)

  3. Mission Control/Expose

  4. Other (Please Define in Comments)

  5. Don't find the need to Multitask

    0 vote(s)
  1. andy06, Feb 16, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2012

    andy06 macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2012
    Recently moved to OS X and I always juggle at least 3 open windows (Browser, Word processor, Finder)

    What is the workflow that suits you best and you find to be the quickest and most efficient? I was a long time Windows and Linux (Gnome 2.X/KDE 3.X) user and both had the simple way of clicking on Taskbar Window icons to multitask.

    Dock: I have a Macbook Air and the limited screen estate means I'm often running in full screen with full screen apps and have no easy access to the dock (non Lion users: the dock does not show on hitting the bottom edge, rather its a two step process of hitting the bottom edge and then some additional movement downwards to activate it). So the Windows/Linux kind of multitasking is not practical on such a small screen with a large dock anymore.

    Cmd+Tab: Seems kind of retro, also it does not allow selection of different windows of the same app. (Is there a modifier key for this?)

    Mission Control: This is what I currently use and though it seems snazzy and visually attractive, its an in between step and objectively 200% slower at least (1. Activate Mission control, 2. Choose App/Window) as opposed to directly selecting the App/Window.

    Whats your preferred method and why? :)
  2. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    I use the Cmd-Tab switcher most of the time, and then the trackpad swipe to switch between Mail in my second space and my main workspace.

  3. andy06 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2012
    Is there a way to edit the Poll? I totally forgot to add Full Screen Apps/Spaces (Swiping between them) as an option. I use it in combination with Mission Control but I realise you can use it independently without first activating MC and it'd be much faster this way.
  4. waynep macrumors 6502

    Dec 31, 2009
    Cmd-Tab all the time. It's easy and I recently came from Windows so it's like the alt-tab that I am used to.
  5. 617arg macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2008
    I use Expose and Spaces, but Lion has screwed things up a bit.

    I have Mail and Firefox on one space, iTunes in another, Photoshop in another, and VMWare Fusion running Windows (for AutoCAD) in another. I also set up 2 additional Spaces for random other uses. Control-arrow keys get me from space to space. Things were more efficient prior to Lion when they were able to be configured in multiple rows.

    I typically have lots of windows open of various programs (multiple PDF's, JPEG's, Firefox windows, or other things). I activate Expose through the thumb wheel of a Logitech Revolution mouse. This was a favorite feature before Lion, when windows would spread out and I could actually see which of the 20 or so PDF's I needed to get to next. Now that they stack the way they do it's not so convenient and almost useless.
  6. interrobang macrumors 6502

    May 25, 2011
    Most of the time, I spread my windows out so that I can see them all at the same time. Not much point in having half a dozen apps open if I can't see but one.
  7. q64ceo macrumors regular

    Aug 13, 2010
    Call me old fashion, but the Dock rules above all
  8. andy06 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2012
    If you have the real estate for it, I'd say that's the best way. Expose/Spaces/MC are borderline superfluous on a large screen display.

    I don't really get the point of Spaces/Virtual Desktops for mainstream users. (Granted it has applications for users who have many things open at once that can be categorized)
    I always see people have only 3 open apps and yet keep them in separate spaces (on Windows with 3rd party utilities and on Mac and Linux with the native tools).

    I once questioned a friend and asked him the advantage and he said "no clutter, full focus on one app" and then I asked him the biggest disadvantage and he said "the switching mechanism I guess". So obviously I suggested if a simple Icon based switcher on each space that allows you to directly jump into another spaces would suffice and he said "yea that would be perfect".

    So I shut off his Virtual desktop app. Maximised the windows of all his apps (Chrome, Firefox, VLC, Songbird and Explorer) and told him to switch using the Taskbar. Instant dedicated spaces with a taskbar/switcher on each screen! Seamless :D

    The dock gives you exactly that on Mac. I always scratch my head when I see relatively light users use Spaces (though Lion's implementation of full screen apps as spaces by default is quite clever and useful to get around small screen constraints. I think what they nailed was the swipe switching mechanism, thats what makes it useful IMO)
  9. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    I use the mouse pointer as little as possible, so the Dock almost never gets used on my computer (at least for that purpose).

  10. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    Same here. I try to use the keyboard as little as possible.
  11. 808? macrumors 6502a

    Aug 4, 2011
    Hong Kong
  12. Simplicated macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2008
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
    A combination of clicking Dock icons, Cmd-Tabbing and Exposé.
  13. Dorje Sylas macrumors 6502

    Jun 8, 2011
    It's a mix bag. My main use is Command-Tab with Command Tilde (~) to cycle between windows in Apps. If I'm getting really cultured then it's of to expose to break all the windows out into its spread view, F10? I'm also a BIG and multi-screen user so... my window management tends to be "where I drag them on the screen is where they are to be, and I get get away with just Command-Tabbing the focus if I don't want to move the mouse.

    When I'm suck on on smaller screen for some reason I take full advantage of Expose's different view modes... but again only if there are lots of things open. Otherwise it's mostly Command-Tab/Tilde.

    I tend not to touch the Spaces. The only advantage Spaces offers is compartmentalization of clutter. I see people who use spaces and they often get themselves into trouble for having lots of things running in the background when they really should be closing out windows (mostly browser) they don't need open anymore. Spaces tends to hide that mess and spread it out over 4-9 virtual screen spaces where it is eventually forgotten. IMO if you need those extra screens in Spaces then want you need is a bigger monitor, possibly a projector and a since wall for 100" of screen space. Otherwise your trying to keep multiple differen tasks running at the same time when you shouldn't be and eating up the computers resources which could be better spent keeping you're current focus and high performance speeds.
  14. jive turkey macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2008
    It really depends on what apps I'm flipping through. To switch between a browser and textedit or Numbers, I use Cmd+tab. To switch between mail and calendar, I swipe desktops (I keep those on separate desktops since they are more useful to me if they are at or near full screen in size). If I have a lot of apps open and what I'm working on is on the same desktop and monitor I will four finger swipe up to get expose. I still end up using the dock a lot, but it is a tad more laborious since I moved to using the trackpad on all of my Mac's.

    All these switching methods come in handy from time to time.
  15. Cmd-the-World macrumors regular

    Apr 7, 2010
    Same here. My workflow usually consists of multiple desktops with multiple windows and iTunes in fullscreen mode.

    I generally switch from one desktop to another using the keyboard shortcuts ctrl+1,2,... and ctrl + side arrow keys for full screen apps.

    To switch between one open app to another I use the cmd+tab shortcut.

    To launch apps/system prefs I use a free app named Alfred.

    To switch between windows I use the ctrl + down arrow and then select via arrows

    I heavily depend on the keyboard and it speeds up my workflow drastically once I got used to the set up.
  16. dknightd macrumors 6502

    Mar 7, 2004
    Me too. Just click on the window of the one I want work on at the time, and still be able to see what the others are doing.
  17. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    I have a two five button mice, and configured Mac OS X to trigger Exposé (All Windows) with a mouse wheel press and Spaces with a side button.
    As I normally have five to fifteen (or sometimes twenty-five) applications open, I have twelve Spaces (three rows, four columns) to spread them out.
    I use my top row for browsers and system administrations.
    The middle row is used for digital content creation.
    The bottom row is for entertainment, VM and text editing.
  18. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Combination of mission control and spaces (3 finger swipe left/right).

    I do use command+tab occasionally, but find it annoying on the mac as it won't cycle through all the windows, just the apps.

    I'm a trackpad user all the way (i have a magic trackpad for when i have the macbook on my desk) mouse only comes out for playing games or when i bother to plug a monitor into my mini (which just normally sits in the corner as a time machine backup destination and file share).
  19. WSR macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2011
    I answered Mission Control/Expose, but I really use Expose/Spaces in SL.

    That is 9 Spaces in a 3 by 3 Grid with assigned Spaces for email, Safari, and iTunes.
  20. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    I use all 3 for various needs, depends what I'm doing, I love the amount of choices you have for multitasking, it's really helpful being able to use a certain set of keys or swipe depending on exact what you're doing.

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