I've been a Mac user for 3 years now but there is a thing that really annoys me and that I didn't find a solution for: the window switching (keyboard Command-Tab to change application or Command-` to change the document of the active application).

Usually I've several browser windows, Textmate, Terminal, Mail, etc, etc. Using exposé I need to check every little window snapshot (I think exposé is great to work with images and only with images). Using Command-Tab & Command-backtick creates weird situations (i.e. you are working with Textmate and need to check some doc in a web browser that you left open just for that purpose. You need Command-Tab, locate the application, then Command-`, but if you happen to be in a web page with the cursor in an input text you will be writing on it and not switching anymore)

Lately I discovered that you can Command-Tab and then press the down cursor key to get an exposé for the selected application. This somehow is a patch for the problem, but not a real solution.

Before using some kind of utility to make Command-Tab work like windows, I wonder if I'm doing something wrong. After all, this is OS X, Apple is the king of UI, isn't it? The user interface seems to be designed for Photoshop & similar users.

How do you work with multiple windows in OSX? Am I missing anything?

Best regards,

  • Oh brilliant, inline code works differently in comments to posts. GREAT :D – Phoshi Dec 17 '09 at 14:36
  • The worst thing is that the application window switcher does not work the same way the application switcher does. To switch between two windows of a three windowed application, you need to alternate between cmd and the cmd+shift variant, since otherwise it will cycle to the third window. – Debilski Dec 17 '09 at 15:22
  • Switching windows on MAC is simply retarded. Wonder who is the person responsible for those few terrible UX design flaws... Its gonna be some stupid manager for sure. I am currently on OS X 10.10 and upgrading to 10.11 and I didnt find relyable free app to switch windows. Plus the fact that app stays opened when you close last window, thats so ridiculous. Your buing pice of hardware + software for trilion gold bars and they dont even pay proper UX designer for the features which are used bilions times a day. – Srneczek Nov 1 '15 at 20:26

I think the solution is to train to use Expose more often. Alternatively, there’s Witch which implements Window’ Alt+Tab-like switching. To be honest, though, I never use it although I have it installed. It is too cluttered for my taste (I have a lot of windows open).

I don’t really see why Expose should only be good for images. Also, Cmd+` should never write into a text field, even if the field has the focus. That sounds like a bug.

  • 2
    How do you get the keyboard "key" formatting on your Alt+Tab? – artlung Dec 17 '09 at 13:27
  • 3
    @artlung: just type <kbd>cmd</kbd> in the Markdown. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1777 for detail and other allowed HTML tags. – Konrad Rudolph Dec 17 '09 at 13:32
  • Expose = mouse or seven hundred keyborad presses - you don't want to use mouse at PC if your planing to be efficient................................... – Srneczek Nov 1 '15 at 20:28

Some Exposé tips which might help you:

  • If you have a newer keyboard with a dedicated Exposé key, hold Command and press it to show the desktop; control and press it to show application windows
  • In Snow Leopard, click and hold on a Dock icon to show windows for that application
  • In Exposé, press Tab to show only windows for each application in turn.
  • Setting a hot corner for All Windows really made it easier for me to use it. It might for you, too. (I chose top-right.)

I find it odd that you say Exposé is only good for images. I can easily identify individual applications, web pages and often documents with it. It's only when there are multiple text documents of equal length, or multiple Terminal windows, that I might have to preview them individually. And even then, unless they have the same name I can just look at the title.

(By the way, have you tried Spaces? It's not my sort of thing, but you might like it.)

  • Expose is not the solution for switching with keyboard - no metter how many tips you can provide. – Srneczek Nov 1 '15 at 20:28

What i've done is bind Cmd+§ to Exposé for Application windows (in System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Keyboard Shortcuts -> Exposé Spaces). The key § is on my keyboard the one above Tab, yours might wary. When in Exposé for the Application in use arrow keys to select the window i want. It's not perfect but i can live with it.

  • On US Keyboards, it's a tilde (~) / backtick (`) – Chealion Dec 17 '09 at 17:01
  • Probably the only "close enough" solution. Still its retarded - it must be so simple to implement an option for all window switching... – Srneczek Nov 1 '15 at 20:29

I personally use mouse shortcuts/gestures, flipping to the lower left for everything and upper left to see application windows using Exposé.
I've found that this sort of thing is almost impossible to generalize. It's very organic, kind of like a habit you grow in to while you're using the computer. I have looked at others' solutions to issues I've had (not this one, I switched to the Mac to get Exposé among other things, but until we get computers that respond to our thoughts, there are likely to be few perfect solutions, as @Peto said above.


I use Exposé, although I have 9 spaces and typically I only have 1 window in every space. Spaces is a great way to organize your windows (especially if you have a lot).


I never use command-tab!

Cmd+` to switch between windows from the same application, then I have a hot corner in the top left for Exposé (all windows)

  • keyboard > mouse – Srneczek Nov 1 '15 at 20:30

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