Exposé for the Dock

in macOS edited January 2014
The three ways marketed to utilize Exposé are exceptional... too exceptional. What OS X pro users need are intuitive enhancements to the Dock, with Exposé as the mediator.

Option 1:


Since command-tab is already the standard for switching open applications, keep it that way but enhance it. In Panther, command-tab should activate Exposé showcasing icons for all open applications at 128 x 128 pixels or smaller (depending on the number of apps that are open).


Exposé would showcase all applications that currently reside in the Dock. This would make application launching incredibly fast. No more hunting and pecking at a Dock filled with 40 or more items. Open applications could be tastefully distinguished from the rest (e.g. a translucent rounded-square behind an open application's icon, a la OS X's volume and brightness adjustments).


Shifting the focus of the command-tab shortcut (literally), this intuitively would showcase all items in the right side of the Dock.

Groupings of icons could be the order they are in the dock, or some other intuitive grouping (such as most recently launched). Groupings of items in the right side of the dock could be sorted based on type (folder or document), and then sub-sorted by most recently launched.

To augment this further, icons would behave as their dock counterparts: clicking an Exposé-d application switches to it or launches it, control clicking an icon brings up its contextual menu. Folders could be browsed, items could be dragged from the desktop or Finder to these folders, files could be launched. However, the Dock would continue to serve basic users quite well and would remain the only way to add or remove items that are accessible through this interface (ensuring the preservation of order and hierarchy within Panther).

Based on Panther screen shots it is clear that dock interaction will continue to be a linear experience with power users hunting and pecking among 40 or more items. Enhancing the Dock with Exposé will deepen the user's interaction with application switching and launching, and would go a long long way towards obviating many users' dissatisfaction with the current Dock by giving them alternative ways to steer their ship.

Apple continues to sell ever increasing screen sizes to the public, and tout dual ACD setups, but users of these large display setups (who use dozens of apps at once, I might add) must negotiate vast distances with their mouse just to launch their next application. Dock magnification is not for pro users... Exposé-ing the Dock would be.

feedback has been submitted to Apple... any thoughts?


  • Reply 1 of 11
    This is more suited to the Mac OS X forum. Moving there now...
  • Reply 2 of 11
    hymiehymie Posts: 34member
    Lots of views, but nobody thinks this is even worth responding to? I am surprised.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    ipeonipeon Posts: 1,122member

    Originally posted by hymie

    Lots of views, but nobody thinks this is even worth responding to? I am surprised.

    I'll contribute. This is just my opinion and in no way putting you down, with that said, lets roll.

    Command-tabbing for switching open applications I never do, I have too many open apps open to tab at. I don't see the need to use Exposé specific to this function as Exposé already does that. By that I mean, when I'm switching apps, I'm actually switching between files that are already open and open folders containing the files I'm working with. Exposé enables me to do that. I hardly ever open anything via the app. I drag and drop the file itself into the app's Icon or double click the file itself. I prefer the direct approach rather then having to show the app where the file is at. Blah! It drives me nuts hunting for the file via the app.

    I leave my apps running. The exception here is that silly iMovie that quits each time I close the window. Arghhhhh. Again, I hardly ever launch an app via the dock as that isn't how I open files. When I do need to get to an app in the Dock, I don't hunt and peck because I know exactly where it is. I find it a lot faster to just go directly to the apps icon in the Dock rather then command-tabbing my way across and over stuff I don't need. What can I say, I'm impatient and hate "showing" my Mac where things are at. By the time I show it I will have done it myself.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    baumanbauman Posts: 1,248member
    I assume you've already seen the new command-tab interface in Panther? Well, you can use your mouse with it, clicking on those large icons to switch to them
  • Reply 5 of 11
    hymiehymie Posts: 34member
    iPeon, I think you are misunderstanding my proposed feature. You would *not* command tab through ever item in the dock. Instead, command-tab or one of its variants discussed above would display visually all the items, and then you would click on one of these items. It would be most useful for people with multiple displays.

    bauman, I think you missed my addressing of this issue. As I mentioned, the interface for command-tab (yes, even in Panther) continues to be a linear experience, with all the apps lined up in a row or else having the apps statically displayed in the dock. My idea would be an extension of this, but would obviate the need to hunt and peck for items in the dock because they could be instantly be displayed at full size translucently above whatever is on your screen.
  • Reply 6 of 11
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member

    Originally posted by hymie

    My idea would be an extension of this, but would obviate the need to hunt and peck for items in the dock because they could be instantly be displayed at full size translucently above whatever is on your screen.

    Which you must then hunt and peck over the whole screen for the item you want...people would hate this more than the Dock.

    Your version has the user constantly mousing around in x and y as opposed to the Dock's single x dimension. Yes, with the regular Dock, you have to slam the cursor to the bottom of the screen, but once there, you're in x land. You would have them be in x-y always.

    And depending on how many items you launch, over time -all- of your icons become moving targets as they get redistributed amongst the ever-shrinking grid.

    Having all running applications be hilited using the same convention as the currently selected Application (using the rounded box) would lead to a confusing and ugly checkerboard-like effect and reduce the box's usefulness as an indicator of what is currently hilighted.

    I'm not against changing things but it needs to be better thought out.
  • Reply 7 of 11
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member
    The fact that regular Exposé makes you hunt and peck for the minimized windows is not an issue, however.

    We are used to needing to do so much work to see the windows we want that the hunting for the minimized window in the (intentionally "messy") grid is nowhere near the effort we expended previously.

    An Exposé'd Dock -would- be more work than we are used to for choosing applications, that's why it's bad.

    Even if you only had one row of app icons enlarged in the middle of the screen, the user still needs to travel your so-called "vast" distances potentially. Eventually I assume it would wrap the 128px icons into multiple rows? Then you are hunting and pecking in the x and y...

    Plus I'd go nuts seeing an odd number of icons in one row and not another
  • Reply 8 of 11
    hymiehymie Posts: 34member

    thanks for speaking to the points and delivering a very clear explanation of the flaws in this idea. sounds good to me; i sit corrected.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member
    Well thanks, certainly, but I'm not really trying to squash the idea so much as refine it and maybe something altogether different might come of it.

    By all means keep kicking ideas around.

    I just know that on the surface some of the things in Mac OS X (or GUIs in general) might seem arbitrary but when you start thinking of the alternatives many issues come up and you usually end up back where you started, appreciating the compexity.
  • Reply 10 of 11
    johnqjohnq Posts: 2,763member
    Just for example...

    Suppose we love the scatter effect that Exposé uses. (I still need to use it firsthand but I think I'll love it).

    And some old timers love the so-called spacial qualities of the Finder.

    So say we have a special Favorite Applications folder.

    Suppose a key command can be used to cause the icons in that folder to slide in from off screen (with everything else darkened in the background as usual in Exposé). They would retain the messy or neat layout that the user used in their Favorite Applications folder.

    Each app could be single clicked to activate. User could also directly drag and drop items onto them. User could rearrange the icons even in this view.

    The value is that the user need not constantly visit a folder via the Finder or through the Dock. The user also can more easily find their applications based on how they ordered them. This would never be a moving target unless they change the order or position of items themselves.

    These would then never need to be on the Dock.

    What if any folder could be given this treatment, triggered by an alias of it in the Dock? So my Games folder is on the Dock and clicking it causes all my game icons to zoom in on screen ala Exposé?

    What if the entire navigation could be done via Exposé? Why can't all folders' contents be treated this way? Basically fullscreen hierarchy navigation? Reminds me a bit of the old Project X/hotsauce....

    A modifier could then show only the running applications, again laid out as the user has defined.

    The Dock then could be used just for running applicationsa and user favorites.

    I gotta eat...I know I left some things out like folders, files etc... I'll get around to it later.

    Anyway that's just an idea that's similar to yours although also very different. The x-y problem is then only as bad as it is in normal Finder windows but the moving target thing is gone.

    I'd like the scatter effect to have other uses as long as they are truly useful.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    I don't know about the Exposé usage but the dock could certainly be fixed up a bit.

    The applications that are running are not high lighted very well and that makes it hard to tell what applications are running at the present time.

    When I first looked at the dock I could not under stand why the non running applications were placed in with the running apps as they are no more than executable files and are not really loaded into ram.

    The applications could be placed on the other side of the divider with the rest of the files and that would also serve as a better representation of whether they were loaded or not.

    Further optimization of the dock would be through the ability to place whole files actually into the dock by turning it into a file address so giving users a kind of clipboard that would accept both files and clippings in the dock instead of just aliases.

    Forgoing the ability to do these things I believe that the command option or shift tab to the inactive apps and files in the dock would be a good compromise.

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