Switching between windows - help a new mac user!

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by Mikegs, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. Mikegs macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    Hi guys

    I'm very used to Windows 7, and I'm struggling a bit with efficient ways to switch between windows on my MBA running Lion.

    Since the MBA is 11'' I tend to keep all windows as large as possible, hence they hide behind each other and can't just be clicked on.

    In Win 7 i would use Alt-TAB to cycle between windows - here it doesn't matter whether the windows are from the same or different apps, it just cycles through them all. In Lion command-TAB will only cycle between apps, not windows within the same app.

    Another thing i like about the alt-TAB in Win 7 is that it'll always bring forward the window that you used most recently prior to the one your actually working on. So if you want to cycle between two windows frequently, just choose first one and then the other from the task bar. Every time you push alt-tab once, it will open the one of those two, you are not currently working with - even if 10 other windows are open = No need to push alt-TAB several times.

    So how do you switch efficiently on a Mac, where you keep all windows as large as possible (but not full-screen app)?? Mission Control and that's it? Or do you just keep windows small enough, so you can just click on them, even on an 11'' screen?

    Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge!
  2. Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007
    Why not run all programs in full screen and 3 finger swipe between them? This is the best method for a small screen.
  3. Mikegs thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    Not very efficient if you have 10 full-screen windows. Takes time e.g. to switch from no 1 to no. 10 and then to no. 5
  4. ergdegdeg Moderator emeritus


    Oct 13, 2007
    There's also CMD - ` (above the tab key) which will switch between windows of the same application.

    Alternatively, you can try out Witch, which lets you switch between any window with the same command. I've used it before but I'm not 100% sure it works with Lion.
  5. sidewinder macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northern California
    Witch works fine with Lion and is a great tool...

  6. Mikegs thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    Okay thanks...

    So third party tools are necessary to better navigate multiple windows? Is that the opinion of many-years mac users?
  7. Jagardn macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011
    CMD + Tab switches applications, one you have the app you want put three fingers on your trackpad and swipe down, it will show all your windows for that app. That's what I do.
  8. xgman macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    Can't you use Mission Control to shift between windows?

    If you want something like Windows 7 has when you hover over icons on the taskbar and get a preview, a utility called Hyperdock is good for that. There are also some ALT TAB replacements for mac.
  9. sidewinder macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northern California
    Mac OS X is not Windows 7. Get used to it. It does things differently. You don't like that? Switch back. If you want to tab through windows like you did on Windows 7, you will need to get a third-party utility.

  10. njaremka macrumors 6502

    May 11, 2010
    this one.
  11. Mikegs thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    I just wan't to work efficiently. If Win 7 has better features in some regards, then I'll third party tools to get that functionality on my Mac, an vice versa.... However, since I'm new to Mac, I might have missed important methods of doing stuff like windows switching - thats what I started the thread for...
  12. Dale Sorel macrumors 6502a

    Dale Sorel

    Jan 12, 2003
    I don't have a trackpad so I don't know what you can do with that. But I do know that if you have an app with a bunch of windows, all in full screen, you can switch windows by clicking the Dock icon.
  13. eternalife macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2011
    He's not dogging the Mac. He's asking a valid question and trying to get some wisdom for experienced users. Why jump on him?

    Op - to answer your question you will have to download a third party app if you want the same functionality as Windows 7. However, there are alternatives that have been mentioned in this thread that work just fine if you don't want to take that route (Command Tab, Swipe, Mission Control, Spaces). I do think Lion took a step back in this area - although i do think it will be remedied based on the number of complaints.
  14. bp1000 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2011
    Normally i use the keyboard shortcut which is CMD + ` to switch between windows in a grouped app

    or CMD + TAB to switch between apps

    Or you have mission control or 4 fingers down to to get all windows in the current app.

    I saw people saying it is 3 fingers down, perhaps i did a custom action because i use 3 fingers to select text.
  15. ditzy macrumors 68000


    Sep 28, 2007
    I use the three fingers up swipe. I get to clearly see sharks open on the desktop I'm using, and to see all my other open desktops. Or alternatively I use the task bar, however that isn't visible if you have an app open on full screen.
  16. CarlosDZ macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2011
    Hot Corners

    I change from windows to mac not long ago. I think you should try Hot corners (Not a third party app), and assign one corner to "application windows", with this everytime you get your mouse to the screen corner it will display all your windows of the current application, i think its easier and faster than going to your keyboard shortcuts. To assign it:

    - Go to system preferences
    - Select Mission Control
    - At the end it says Hot corners
    - Assign to the corner of your preference, Application Windows.

    I also suggest to explore all the options on the mission control preferences, you can customize you F1, f2 to some functions like applications windows or mission control.
  17. professorjay macrumors member

    May 13, 2007
    I see these responses too often around here. What a lousy attitude.

    Like others said, Command + ~ (tilde, right above tab) will switch between windows of the same app. It's more useful in the fact that you can decide when you want to switch apps or same app windows.

    Unfortunately it does not switch between the current and last window of the same app you used, you'd have to cycle through. That would be a good idea for Apple to implement in the future though. Then releasing ~ but still holding down command would bring up all the open windows like the hot corner Application Windows option, and then cycling through would switch focus.

    But then again if they changed a feature it means they prefer something else and they should switch back to Windows and then Apple would implode.
  18. sidewinder macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northern California
    The OP wrote:

    "So third party tools are necessary to better navigate multiple windows?"

    The impression I got was that this bothered him. Mac OS X does this different than Windows because the Mac OS does not run each app in its own window. He needs to work differently than he has with Windows 7. There are third-party products, such as Witch, that change or enhance what Apple offers.

  19. rowley macrumors 6502


    Dec 16, 2008
    London, UK
    The Short answer is it's a Mac, and not Windows. Of course some things are going to be different

    CMD + TAB to cycle apps
    CMD + ` to cycle windows within app.

  20. Mikegs thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2010
    OP here.

    Thanks for all your helpful replies. I am really just trying to get an overview of the methods available for windows-switching in Lion from experienced Mac users. I'm not trying to say it should act like Win 7, but when Win 7 in my opinion is better in some instances, that's okay too, right? It would be perfect if Lion was just better than Win 7 in every aspect, but I just don't think so.

    Tried the hot corner method and the three finger swipe down. Since these methods only shows all windows belonging to the active application, and sometimes (often) what I want is to shift back and forth between different application's windows (say a Safari windows and a text document), it's not ideal methods.

    In general, I somehow prefer not to use third-party tools, but I found that Switché works excellent for windows switcing, but I can't make it work stable in Lion (it just quits itself it seems)
  21. sidewinder macrumors 68020


    Dec 10, 2008
    Northern California
    Again, The Mac OS does not stick an app in a window like Windows does. It's a significant difference. Have you not noticed it yet?

    Anyway, Witch, available in the App Store, works incredibly well.

  22. mrsir2009 macrumors 604


    Sep 17, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    If all the windows are in separate applications you can Apple-Tab through them? Or mission control if they are all in the same app.
  23. galtenberg macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2011
    As a longtime Mac user, I want to apologize for all of the total prick responses on this thread. I'm embarrassed. I know 100+ mac users, and none of them do this to other people. We sincerely welcome you... those of us who don't have grudges against our moms and the rest of the world.

    As others have said, Cmd-Tab is just like Alt-Tab in Windows, as far as switching between applications.

    Cmd-` is a great way, normally, to switch between windows of the same application. Unfortunately it doesn't work for apps in full screen mode (as of Nov '11). This is an oversight that needs to be fixed... swiping with three-fingers is not a serious option for a professional operating system.

    Your best friend, for now, is App Expose. It's available through Mouse or Trackpad in System Preferences. Mission Control is also decent (and can also be setup as a Hot Corner in Mission Control System Preference).

    But here's hoping Ctrl-` comes to full-screen apps soon.
  24. michael2 macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2012
  25. The Economist Suspended

    The Economist

    Apr 4, 2011
    Hot corners is what I'd recommend, it is what many use, but you clearly have other needs. What exactly do you do that you need so many different windows open of so many applications? Just wondering.

    Just remember that OSX works differently than Windows, so you might have to change your workflow in order to work efficiently on your Mac.

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