How to Hide and Switch Macintosh Applications

Is your Mac’s screen cluttered with too many windows? Do you drag windows left and right, up and down, trying to find the window that you’re looking for? There is a better way to manage window clutter on your Mac. Apple offers a number of tools and techniques including Spaces, Expose, Minimize Window and others. This article talks about my preferred method. I use three different keyboard commands – hide application, Application Switcher and cycle through windows. Let me explain how to invoke each keyboard command. Then I’ll explain how to tie them together.

Hide Application

Nearly all applications can be hidden by pressing either Command-H or selecting Hide <Your Application’s Name> from the Application menu. For example, if you’re reading this article using Safari then click on the Safari menu at the top of your screen. Half-way down the menu you’ll see Hide Safari listed. Alternatively you can press the Command key and the H key to hide Safari.

Application Switcher

Not surprisingly, the purpose of the Application Switcher is to let you easily switch between applications. To invoke this feature simultaneously press the Command key and the Tab key. Then, release the Tab key. You’ll see a row of big icons appear across the screen. This row of icons is the application switcher. To use it, continue to hold down the Command key and then press and release the Tab key. Each time you press and release the Tab key you’ll see that the next application in the list is selected. If you continue to hold down the Tab key then you’ll rapidly advance through the list of applications. When you’ve selected the desired application from the list, then release all keys and the selected application will come to the fore-front. Hint: If you want to move through the list in reverse, then press Command-Shift-Tab.

Cycle through windows

Within a specific application, one can easily flip through all open documents and any other windows by simply pressing Command-tilde. The tilde key is the key to the left of the 1 key. The tilde is the accent mark that goes over an “n” in Spanish. To use this properly you need to depress the Command key and then press and release the tilde key each time you want to advance to the next window. Go ahead, give it a try.

Using all of these commands together. When I’m done with a given application, for a least a minute or two, and I want to switch to another application then I press Command-H to hide the current application. Then I press Command-Tab to invoke the Application Switcher and use it to switch to the application that I want to use. If I have many windows or documents open in this application then I just press Command-tilde to quickly find the document that I want. Then again when I’m done working on that document or application, I hide it and switch to the next application. ┬áThis lets me reduce window clutter and quickly find the document that I need.

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