Hide quick!

I like to have lots of windows/applications open at once. Back in my Linux days, I used virtual desktops (mostly in IceWM) to keep things somewhat organized: email on one desktop, web browsing on another, file manager on another, etc. When I came back to the Mac about a year ago, I was surprised to find that Apple didn’t use virtual desktops†, preferring Exposé. And while Exposé is certainly cool, it doesn’t get things out of the way when you need to concentrate on one application at at time. I used Desktop Manager for a while, but decided to simplify and stay away from third-party utilities that go into the OSX internals as deeply as this program does.

OSX has two ways of hiding everything but the current application:

  1. In most (all?) apps, there’s a Hide Others item in the application menu. It’s usually bound to Option-H.

  2. If you click on a dock item or a window of an inactive app with the Option and Command keys pressed, that application is brought to the front (as usual) and all the other apps are hidden.

On my desktop system, I have a wireless Logitech scrollmouse, and I’ve used the Logitech control panel to bind the click of the middle button, which is scroll wheel itself, to Option-Command-Left Click. Now I can work messy, using regular clicks to bring applications forward, or clean, using middle clicks. If you have a mouse with more than two buttons, you can do the same. With other types of mice, you could use the side buttons.

† Back in the really old days, I was a big fan of Andy Hertzfeld’s Switcher, a virtual desktop that ran on Fat Macs and was in many ways superior to its successor, MultiFinder.