How to manage open applications

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
Hello Folks,



I just got my wife a MacBook Pro and we are already confused. [YES, WE JUST SWITCHED]



Here is the first issue. It seems that the concept of closing and switching between applications is totally different on a Mac (willing to learn, just totally confused).

I understand from reading a few websites that the only way to actually close an application is to go to file->Close or Command Q... Is this true? I'm OK with keyboard shortcuts but my wife hates them and the extra steps of having to go up top, drop down a menu, and select quit seems kind of silly. What is the difference between the X and the - up top then anyways?



Also (and more importantly), we keep losing windows. For example, we had the Mail application open and started a new message which opened a new window. She then went back to Safari to get a contact. When she went back to the Mail application we landed back on the inbox and the new message window was nowhere to be found. We had to close each window one by one until we found the new message window hiding behind them. There has to be a better way then that .... right? (Please say YES)





Any help and insight you guys can give me would be great. I'm excited to learn the ways of the Mac and there are a lot of things I like... but sometimes it seems like things are more difficult than they need to be just to be different than a PC (like the X not closing the app).



Thanks!

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    dutch peardutch pear Posts: 588member
    The Mac treats programs and files differently, assuming that you will generally want to close the file you are working on, but keep the application open (because the next file of that type opens much faster if the program is already running). Unlike windows, OsX can handle many more open applications without slowing down noticably, so just leave the app open!



    Exposé is your friend while working with multiple windows. I have my middle mouse button and a corner of my screen setup to invoke expose. You can do that from the system preferences.

    You can switch between programs using command+tab.

    I ended up making a small note for my girlfriend containing the basic keyboard shortcuts command+Q, command+W, command+S and command+tab and even though she also dislikes keyboard shortcuts, she actually uses them now, making her computer usage much more fluent.



    Anyhow, for both of you: hang in there and just play and explore your new mac, you'll get the hang of it soon, and once you do, you will be hooked
  • Reply 2 of 12
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Also, as regards the red, yellow and green buttons: red closes the window (but does not quit the app, which always seems to throw switchers), yellow minimizes the window to the dock, and green does whatever the hell it wants to. It's a complete mystery, even to long time Mac users.
  • Reply 3 of 12
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    Nothing else to add but that at least one of the function keys on the new Apple keyboards are already set to trigger Expose functions and have a little icon to show it. On the old keyboards and any standard keyboard, the defaults are F9 through F12 if I recall correctly.



    Best to assign them in hot corners as per dutch pear's suggestion - I wouldn't want mine any other way.



    Congrats on the best use of text colors I have ever seen on forums, in your first post no less.
  • Reply 4 of 12
    nathan wnathan w Posts: 2member
    Thanks for all the help guys... the hot corners trick is helping a lot!
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gon View Post


    Congrats on the best use of text colors I have ever seen on forums, in your first post no less.



    Thanks, I run/own a number of vbulletin forums so I know the drill pretty well.
  • Reply 5 of 12
    lorrelorre Posts: 396member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Also, as regards the red, yellow and green buttons: red closes the window (but does not quit the app, which always seems to throw switchers),



    Not always... a lot of programs do really quit, like iPhoto or iMovie.
  • Reply 6 of 12
    phlakephlake Posts: 91member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lorre View Post


    Not always... a lot of programs do really quit, like iPhoto or iMovie.



    Very true, but there's not really a lot that you can do with those applications once the window is closed since all of the information is contained in that one window and nothing happens outside of a window.



    On the other hand, applications iTunes can play music without the window still being open, and Pages can have multiple documents.



    It still is confusing as heck sometimes, though.
  • Reply 7 of 12
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    This tutorial is helpful and shows expose in action.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    akacakac Posts: 510member
    A few things to remember. Closing applications is simply not as necessary. OS X will automatically remove an app from memory if its been idle and unused for awhile. This is called paging, but it doesn't really matter what its called - its more important to know that you just don't have to quit apps. Close the windows and leave the apps running (unless its something like email or chat where you don't want it checking mail or such).



    But overall its actually simple:

    Single Window Apps - close on X of its window

    Multi Window Apps - close on Quit



    Red == Close Window

    Yellow == Minimize Window

    Green == "Smart Maximize" which means that the application is sent a message to "maximize" and its up to the app what it does. Thats why its random between apps. Some apps will maximize to the "optimal" size meaning no scroll bars - even if that's smaller than what you have right now. Some apps will maximize to the largest size possible (like Windows). Some apps will use it as a location-toggle.



    But Expose and Spaces are great at dealing with windows. Also its a known bug in Leopard (that is hopefully fixed in 10.5.3 according to a friend of mine) where moving between apps changes the Z-order of windows backwards.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    phlakephlake Posts: 91member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Akac View Post


    A few things to remember. Closing applications is simply not as necessary. OS X will automatically remove an app from memory if its been idle and unused for awhile. This is called paging, but it doesn't really matter what its called - its more important to know that you just don't have to quit apps. Close the windows and leave the apps running (unless its something like email or chat where you don't want it checking mail or such).



    But overall its actually simple:

    Single Window Apps - close on X of its window

    Multi Window Apps - close on Quit



    Red == Close Window

    Yellow == Minimize Window

    Green == "Smart Maximize" which means that the application is sent a message to "maximize" and its up to the app what it does. Thats why its random between apps. Some apps will maximize to the "optimal" size meaning no scroll bars - even if that's smaller than what you have right now. Some apps will maximize to the largest size possible (like Windows). Some apps will use it as a location-toggle.



    But Expose and Spaces are great at dealing with windows. Also its a known bug in Leopard (that is hopefully fixed in 10.5.3 according to a friend of mine) where moving between apps changes the Z-order of windows backwards.



    Bravo. I wish there were a comment rating system so I could rate that up. I don't think I've ever heard it explained to elegantly. Thanks.
  • Reply 10 of 12
    lundylundy Posts: 4,466member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nathan W View Post


    When she went back to the Mail application we landed back on the inbox and the new message window was nowhere to be found. We had to close each window one by one until we found the new message window





    Congrats on switching!





    In addition to the Exposé technique, any app with multiple windows has a Window menu from which you can choose the window that you want.



    You can also press the mouse on the application's Dock icon and it will list all the application's open windows.



    You can also command-Tab to get to the Mail app, then command-tilde (~) to get to the correct Mail window.



    When using Exposé, use the "Application Windows" feature rather than the "All Windows" feature. It will instantly spread out all the windows of the frontmost application and you just click on the one you want. Great with Excel spreadsheet workbooks.... or Xcode windows.... or Safari....



    Try to get in the habit of leaving all applications running, as suggested. You can hide them (command-H) if you like. The exception is if you have a rogue app that likes to chew up CPU cycles when idle. Those you need to get in the habit of command-Q to quit them.
  • Reply 11 of 12
    You can also hit Cmd + ` to switch between windows within the front-most application.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    jabohnjabohn Posts: 525member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Nathan W View Post


    Also (and more importantly), we keep losing windows. For example, we had the Mail application open and started a new message which opened a new window. She then went back to Safari to get a contact. When she went back to the Mail application we landed back on the inbox and the new message window was nowhere to be found. We had to close each window one by one until we found the new message window hiding behind them. There has to be a better way then that .... right? (Please say YES)



    A lot of apps, Mail included, have a WINDOW menu so if you lose the email you're working on it'll be listed in that menu near the bottom.



    Another tip... Mac OS handles windows independently of the applications they belong too. You can work on a new email in Mail, then click a Safari window behind and bring it to the front, then if you click on the Mail viewer window, only that window will come to the front leaving any other Mail windows still behind the Safari one. In essence, you can have windows from multiple applications overlapping each other. If you wanted ALL of Mail's windows to come to the front when you switch, click on the icon in the dock or use the app-switcher (command-tab).
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