OK, I must admit that I am from the Windows world and started using Leopard not for long.

One really annoying thing when using my shiny new OS is that I can't predict what exact behavior it brings when I hit that little green "+" button on any open window. Some people told me it's "Maximize"... some says, it's "Max and Restore".

Sometimes, it does maximize a window, but NOT ALWAYS, if you know what I am saying. It's driving me mad...

NB: For a Leopard beginner, this is NOT user friendly.

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    At first this seems like a stupid question, but after thinking about it, I realized I don't even know what exactly it does, and I use a Mac for work. :) – Sasha Chedygov Aug 27 '09 at 6:20
  • Stick with it... the learning curve is worth the pain once you get used to all the OS X not-windows-ness you won't want to go back... – beggs Aug 27 '09 at 6:42
  • @musicfreak, I did bring this question before a few Mac users. Besides, usually I can get good answer just by googling it but not for this one. – keithchau Aug 27 '09 at 7:05
  • @keithchau, forget Google: apple.com/support/switch101 and then Welcome to Mac and On Windows, I used to... – Arjan Aug 27 '09 at 9:09
  • @beggs, both Windows and Mac Os seem fine to me. I've been using both of them for well over 2 years, and I can't say one is better than the other; they're just different :). – alex Aug 27 '09 at 11:30

I hate the default behavior of that button... To make the green buttom actually maximize the window, try either RightZoom or Stoplight.

  • Oh that fixes just that annoyance. Thank you! I would have voted your answer should I have enough reput. :) – keithchau Aug 27 '09 at 7:03
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    You can vote my answer, it's your question :). John T also has a very good answer actually telling you why it works that way. – alex Aug 27 '09 at 7:49
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    On an Intel Mac, you could also install Windows. ;-) – Arjan Aug 27 '09 at 9:05
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    On an Intel (or AMD) PC, you could also install Mac OS :) – alex Aug 27 '09 at 9:13
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    He @alex, Mac OS X comes with that annoying zoom that doesn't make your browser use all of your big screen. Installing Mac OS on a PC doesn't solve that issue... ;-) – Arjan Aug 27 '09 at 9:44

It's called the "Zoom Button". Defined by Apple as:

A control that toggles a window between its standard state and its user state.

From here.

What I take that as is basically that it's "Standard state" is the window size that the programmer hardcoded into the application. The "User state" is the size you've changed it to.

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    Not hardcoded. Like in Safari the zoom size depends on the content. That's why I prefer it very much over the "maximise" implementation that Firefox has given this button. – Arjan Aug 27 '09 at 8:58
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    Doesn't it turn iTunes into mini Itunes? It seems Apple is very consistent in their implementation of the green button, sadly. – alex Aug 27 '09 at 11:28
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    @alex: Consistent or inconsistent? – Sasha Chedygov Aug 28 '09 at 2:48

In document-based applications, the zoom button toggles between the user state and the optimum size for the content. Unfortunately, many applications, such as Firefox and even Safari, don't actually obey this rule.

From the OSXHIGuidelines:

Your application determines the minimum and maximum window size. Base these sizes on the resolution of the display and on the constraints of your interface. For document windows, try to show as much of the content as possible, or a reasonable unit, such as a page.

Your application also sets the values for the initial size and position of a window, called the standard state. Don’t assume that the standard state should be as large as possible; some monitors are much larger than the useful size for a window. Choose a standard state that is best suited for working on the type of document your application creates and that shows as much of the document’s contents as possible.

The user can’t change the standard size and location of a window, but your application can change the standard state when appropriate. For example, a word processor might define the standard size and location as wide enough to display a document whose width is specified in the Page Setup dialog.

The user changes a window’s size by dragging the size control (in the lower-right corner). As a user drags, the amount of visible content in the window changes. The upper-left corner of the window remains in the same place. The actual window contents are displayed at all times.

If the user changes a window’s size or location by at least 7 pixels, the new size and location is the user state.The user can toggle between the standard state and the user state by clicking the zoom button. When the user clicks the zoom button of a window in the user state, your application should first determine the appropriate size of the standard state. Move the window as little as possible to make it the standard size, and keep the entire window on the screen. The zoom button should not cause the window to fill the entire screen unless that was the last state the user set.

When a user with more than one monitor zooms a window, the standard state should be on the monitor containing the largest portion of the window, not necessarily the monitor with the menu bar. This means that if the user moves a window between monitors, the window’s position in the standard state could be on different monitors at different times. The standard state for any window must always be fully contained on a single monitor.

When zooming a window, make sure it doesn’t overlap with the Dock. For more information about the Dock, see “The Dock.”

  • How does Safari not obey this? Seems to work fine with me. (Indeed, Firefox assumes I like my browser as large as my screen. Not.) – Arjan Aug 27 '09 at 9:00
  • For me, Safari toggles between the optimum size and just the toolbar visible in the bottom-left corner of the screen. – Benjamin Dobson Aug 27 '09 at 17:59
  • Then yI guess our user state is messed up (maybe some JavaScript on a web page you visited changed it?). When seeing the tiny state, change it to your preferred size. After that, toggling in Safari should be fine again. – Arjan Aug 27 '09 at 21:03
  • Hmm. I tried a couple of things, but unfortunately I can't get it to change. It doesn't matter too much; I'm keep my browser at a constant size anyway. – Benjamin Dobson Aug 27 '09 at 22:22

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