Exposé was fantastic before, and with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard it just got even better. Apple has made great changes to the way it displays windows and how users can interact with them.
Snow Leopard, the new version of Mac OS X that shipped this past Friday, is chock-full of little improvements that make the overall user experience better. As one might expect, there is going to be a long series of articles coming up that explore what the new operating system has to offer. First up is Exposé, the window management feature that has received a minor overhaul in 10.6. Now organized in a simple grid and cleanly labeled with descriptive titles, Exposé’s interface is looking good.
The most touted enhancement to Snow Leopard’s version of Exposé is its integration with the Dock. Let’s say you’ve got 4 or 5 Safari windows open at the same time. It can easily get cluttered and hard to navigate between them. Now users can simply click and hold the application icon in the Dock for 1-2 seconds and Exposé will swiftly display thumbnails of all of that program’s open windows. Press the Tab key and Exposé will switch to windows from the next open app in the Dock. I’d just like to add that this functionality is pretty darn awesome. The spotlight over the active icon is a nice touch too.
Another thing Snow Leopard brings to Exposé is Quick Look. That’s right… hover over a window’s thumbnail and press the space bar. A full-size preview of that window’s contents will slide to the forefront. Then you can use the arrow keys to navigate between window previews. This is such a time-saver when you’ve got a ton of similar-looking windows open at the same time.
It isn’t just active windows that get to play here, either. Minimized windows get their own designated area in Exposé too, towards the bottom of the screen. They are shrunken down and separated from the viewable windows, but they can be zoomed in and clicked on just the same. Speaking of minimizing windows, Snow Leopard offers yet another treat to improve window management. Going to the Dock pane in System Preferences will reveal a new option to “minimize windows into application icon.” This allows minimized windows to be sucked right into the program’s icon instead of accumulating one after another on the right side of the Dock. A small group of Dock neat freaks are high-fiving somewhere.