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I realize I asked this question in the context of switching spaces and that it has been asked about for Windows, and I've seen some discussion of it elsewhere, but I realize I want to stop applications from stealing focus in any context, even in a single space, and for any reason.

That is, I want to disable it entirely and have only my choices switch application focus. Is this possible? Thanks.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The short answer: No. The long answer: read this post from Steve Yegge, who delves into a lot of the Mac design philosophy and his trials trying to get x-mouse-activation working on his Mac.

While x-mouse-activation (focus-follows-mouse) will do what you mean to do, it's apparently unsupported at this time. I recommend Linux. I end with this quote from the referenced post:

Apple OS engineers don't want you to do stuff that they don't want you to do, and they specifically define "stuff they don't want you to do" as "stuff they don't think you want to do." This is actually endemic to Apple forums in general. Whenever someone says "I want focus follows mouse behavior!", some people inevitably reply that "you really don't want to do this". It's that whole "we designed it the right way for everyone" mentality that turns off so many would-be Mac users.

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I agree with that assessment...although as a former PC user, I would say that Apple does usually get it right, particularly a lot more than Microsoft did. Linux is not an option partially b/c I don't want the hassle but more importantly b/c I don't own the machine and can customize OS X to my heart's content but cannot replace the OS. –  Philip Dec 31 '09 at 16:45
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