Mac’s Exposé

In 20 years of using PCs, I never thought to check if there was 3rd-party software that would do something so useful. Apple built it right into the Mac OS. I don’t think I’ve ever run an application full screen — and I want to rip my hair out when I see others do it. Windows… Get it? Well, if not, here; get it:

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Billy Beck on November 13, 2007 at 22:27

    I must say that I am completely mystified by what's going on in the video.

    When Windows 95 happened, I thought the Task Bar was a big deal, and I still do, in fact. I generally run all my apps full-screen, and the Task Bar is principally how I switch around. I don't think I have ever, ever run AutoCAD less than full screen for even two seconds, and that goes for every graphics app I use. Video editing, music recording: same deal. Every now and then I'll reduce a browser window, but for pretty limited purposes, like dragging a link out of the address line onto the desktop.

    Generally, the rule is: whatever window I'm looking at has my full attention.

  2. Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2007 at 23:34

    Well, gentlemen…

    Seems I touched a nerve, there. Sorry. No big, I hope.

    I've almost never run apps full screen, as to me, it defeats the purpose of a windowed environment. Yep, I get the task bar — and I use it; I'm still a PC user, too (at the office).

    I've always been aware that Macs were designed from the get-go to run in reasonably small windows, such that even with the small screens you could always have two or three apps running and not have to switch back & forth (i.e., they don't have to overlap). Quicken, which I've used since 1.0 in DOS, 1989 (and a dozen MS Windows versions since 1991) is particularly different, yet very interesting in Mac. There is no application "boundary." The entire screen is your app boundary and you can have three dozen (or more) different windows, all different sizes up for all sorts of accounts, category lists, account lists, and whatever else you want. Each exists independently of all other apps and windows within Quicken, such that you could have numerous browser sessions up that overlap or cover your various Quicken windows, yet use Exposé to vector them all out to distinct and non-overlapping windows and select the one you want without the "meta-app" (Quicken, in this case) taking over everything by activating all the windows you have open. You just bring the single one you want to the foreground.

    Of course, I opened up more apps and windows for this demo than I normally do (and I'm thinking about getting really crazy), but I often have many things open. The problem on a PC is the more you have open, the more they're shrunk on the task bar, and if they're different instances of the same app, it's sometimes difficult to tell which is which. What I demo-ed is obviously lightning quick, and you can see exactly which window you want.

    Have either of you run multiple monitors? I began doing that a couple of years ago and really changed a lot. Also, because of my trading I have to have a lot of stuff open, and no one thing can really have "my full attention," and in spite of the trading, I still like to have my email and a browser in view at all times.

    Hope that clarifies things a bit, but I'm happy to shoot out any clarifications or elaborations. Also, I once worked with a windowed OS in UNIX back in the early 90s and it was much like this and quite different from MS Windows. I always missed certain aspects of the GUI "feel," and to much extent I've recaptured it.

  3. Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2007 at 23:38

    …Oh, by the way, Mac has an equivalent to the task bar, which is the "dock," and works in much the same way if that's the way you want to manage open apps and multiple instances.

  4. Billy Beck on November 13, 2007 at 23:55

    "No big, I hope."

    You kiddin'? "Everybody gets to go to hell in their own go-cart."

    Nothin' to it.

  5. Kyle Bennett on November 13, 2007 at 20:06

    What's the problem with running apps full screen?

  6. Kyle Bennett on November 14, 2007 at 06:24

    "No big,"

    Of course not.

    "it defeats the purpose of a windowed environment."

    Well, in many ways *MS Windows* defeats the purpose of a windowed environment. 😉

    At work, I have to have a minimum of 4 apps open and active just to get my job done (MS DevStudio, whatever app I'm deveoloping, Cygwin/bash shell, MSDN documentation), along with 3 or 4 more that I have to run often, but not always. That's as many as 8 apps just to be able to work. Add in mail, browser, and occasional other things, and 10+ apps is frequently the case.

    The point of all that is that there is no way to arrange them all so that one is never hidden (though I frequently have to use as many as 3 of them *simultaneously*, which forces me to find an arrangement that works). Plus, a few of those apps cannot be used effectively in anything less than full screen, and even at that, MSDev for instance, is hopelessly cramped when all the debug windows are docked. That means that at least MSDev is full screen, and any switching to the others is by the task bar or ALT+Tab. There's no hope of visually searching for the window.

    It's not significantly different at home, though the number of Firefox tabs usually exceeds the number of open apps in that case. I do run two 19" monitors at work, but it's still not enough. I need one of these:

    Expose looks like it could be very useful. I believe Leopard has Cover View for app windows now, and that might be even better.

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