Inside OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion GM: Go Full Screen on any display

Posted:
in macOS edited January 2014
In OS X Mountain Lion, Apple has taken an incremental step toward making OS X's new iPad-like Full Screen mode more useful: you can now pick which connected display you want to use.

The path to Full Screen in Lion

Apple first began developing the concept of full screen functionality within its own iLife apps, particularly iPhoto. In iPhoto '09 (released in January 2009 for OS X 10.5 Leopard), users could enter a special full screen mode that provided distinctly dark "heads up display" toolbars.

In late 2010, Steve Jobs demonstrated Full Screen as a new feature of OS Lion, providing it a system-wide feature that apps could make use of to switch from a windowing environment to a simpler, distraction-free Full Screen display similar in many respects to the iPad.

Jobs demonstrated Preview and what would later ship as iPhoto 11 on OS X Lion, where when entering Full Screen mode, the system would actually hide the toolbar.

Additionally, rather than presenting "heads up display" style toolbars, apps taking advantage of Lion's new Full Screen feature would instead adopt a revised user interface suited to working within a single screen, and very similar in appearance and design to the iPad's default user interface.

Mac OS X Lion scroll bars

Mac OS X Lion scroll bars


Full Screen... with multiple screens

At the time, the idea of removing the previously always-visible Mac menu bar and allowing inactive scrollbars to vanish when not in use appeared to be the most controversial aspects of the new Full Screen feature.

In reality, users seemed to readily adopt the optional new Full Screen feature without significant complaints, and simply didn't use it if they couldn't find it useful to their needs.

Except for one group of users, that is: anyone with multiple monitors. Apple's new Full Screen feature instantly makes any connected displays completely worthless anytime an app enters Full Screen mode. That's because the system blanks all secondary displays with "dark linen" and simply uses the primary display to go full screen (below top: Safari in Full Screen under Mountain Lion on a secondary monitor; below bottom: the primary display is blanked and therefore useless).




Full Screen is clearly only useful to users who are working on a single display, because blanked external displays can't be used for anything else. You can't open a second Full Screen app to display in it, you can't show the desktop on it, and there's nothing you can drag (say, app toolbars) into the secondary display to free more screen real estate.

Full Screen on any display in Mountain Lion

Improving this situation isn't simple. How could you actually work in Full Screen on one monitor while the system attempted to retain a fully functional desktop on another? What happens when you try to move a window from one display to the Full Screen one (which is designed purposely to avoid the complexity and distractions of a windowing environment)?

Apple's solution in Mountain Lion is an incremental band-aid, but does expand the usefulness of Full Screen mode to users who connect to external displays. New in Mountain Lion is the ability to target which screen you want to go Full Screen in. In the screen shots above, Safari was taken full screen on an externally connected HDTV.

This allows notebook users, for example, to connect to a big external display and use it for Full Screen work. Unfortunately, all the other screens are still blanked, but there isn't a simple fix to addressing this in a sensible way.

Note that Lion users can already do essentially the same thing by using display mirroring rather than setting up their external display as an expanded bit of desktop before entering Full Screen. In Mountain Lion however, Full Screen apps can actually make use of the greater resolution available on a large external display, rather than scaling down to show the image on the primary display.

And of course, tech-savvy Lion users can also configure their external display as the primary screen, but jumping through hoops like that erases the simplicity that Full Screen is supposed to provide.

This is likely why Mountain Lion now supports (on Macs with compatible hardware) AirPlay Mirroring but not simply AirPlay distribution of a virtual secondary monitor screen.

AirPlay Mirroring is targeted to address effortless, wireless presentation of what you see on your Mac (or iPad, or iPhone or iPod touch) to a TV screen via Apple TV, not for setting up a complex multiple display configuration that wouldn't have a clear or obvious purpose and not be broadly useful. At the same time, however, users can now turn on AirPlay Mirroring and take an app Full Screen to easily show what they're doing to a larger audience.

Multiple Full Screen apps? Consider Spaces and Screen Sharing

In the future, Apple could build support into OS X to allow multiple monitors to each display different Spaces of the virtual desktop. Users can already switch between Spaces supporting a desktop with windows and other Spaces, each with a dedicated app running in Full Screen mode, but can only see one Space at a time.

Displaying different Spaces on different monitors would be one solution to allowing users with multiple monitor to use each of them at the same time in Full Screen mode, but it also raises new problems.

Unlike the existing behavior, where different Spaces are never active and visible at the same time (and therefore users have no way of trying to drag windows or toolbars or selections between them without the Space "changing"), it might be confusing for users to see Safari running Full Screen on one display, Mail in another, and the desktop on the primary, and not have the ability to drag items between them.

Changing how Spaces' virtual desktops work would also affect remote display apps such as ARD and OS X's built in Screen Sharing. However, Apple earlier enhanced Screen Sharing in OS X Lion to enable remote users to not just see the logged in user's desktop, but alternatively log in as a separate, concurrent graphical user (shown below).



That's not the same issue, but it does show Apple is investigating various ways to improve users' experience in working with multiple users, screens and displays. Apple has also added support in Mountain Lion Screen Sharing for drag and drop of files between the local system and a remote system's shared screen.

In any case, until changes are made in the technical underpinnings of OS X's Full Screen and virtual display Spaces, the best one can do in Mountain Lion is pick which display to take the current app Full Screen in, which is at least a significant step ahead of Lion's implementation.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 86
    cory bauercory bauer Posts: 1,286member
    I really don't feel that the situation is all that complicated to solve. Ideally, Mission Control would allow you to drag/drop running apps on to the screen you what them to operate on in full-screen. This would allow you to have a full screen app on one display, and another full screen app on the other (or alternatively, the desktop where apps would run normally). When using the gestures to swipe between fullscreen apps, the gesture would work on whichever screen your cursor was currently hovering over, and the OS would simply skip over the app that was currently running on any other display.

    At least, that was the behavior I had expected from Lion, and was surprised when it didn't operate anything like that.
  • Reply 2 of 86
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post

    Ideally, Mission Control would allow you to drag/drop running apps on to the screen you what them to operate on in full-screen.


     


    I'd love if in Mission Control you could drag any application's window from any Space to any Space from any Space.



    Take this:


     


     


    image


     


     


    HI, HUDDLER. THANKS FOR THE TINY IMAGE.


     


    Say I wanted to drag the window open in Space 4 to Space 2, but I'm in Space 1 right now. I can't do it. I'd like that ability.

  • Reply 3 of 86
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,674member
    Aperture gained Full Screen mode in version 1.5.3 (2007) I can't remember when IE got the F11 option, but I wouldn't t be surprised if it was 10 years ago. Didn't Word had this in version 4 or 5, copying WP?

    Ok, 'nuf with playing devils advocate already!
  • Reply 4 of 86

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    I'd love if in Mission Control you could drag any application's window from any Space to any Space from any Space.



    Take this:


     


     


    image


     


     


    HI, HUDDLER. THANKS FOR THE TINY IMAGE.


     


    Say I wanted to drag the window open in Space 4 to Space 2, but I'm in Space 1 right now. I can't do it. I'd like that ability.



    It's not as intuitive as it should be, but you can already do this in Lion. While in Mission Control, you can press Ctrl + Left or Right Arrow Keys to switch the active space, and then drag and drop apps to other spaces.

  • Reply 5 of 86
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,523member
    I'd love if in Mission Control you could drag any application's window from any Space to any Space from any Space.


    Take this:


    1000


    HI, HUDDLER. THANKS FOR THE TINY IMAGE.

    Say I wanted to drag the window open in Space 4 to Space 2, but I'm in Space 1 right now. I can't do it. I'd like that ability.

    Did you ever try clicking on the image? It gets bigger and even has arrows navigation for additional images.
  • Reply 6 of 86
    gosfordgosford Posts: 2member


    Mac fan boys are all oh windows this and windows dat.. and Mac OS is oh so great...but these problems that mac having are already implemented in almost every windows OS. Ok, so im use to having 2 monitors running different programs at the same time in windows. VLC on one watching movie and the other have google chrome so I can monitor ma email/facebook. I got a macbook pro and the first thing i love is the full screen option which opens a desktop of it own automatically and i can 4-finger swipe through them. I also got a minidisplay to hdmi adapter and connected a 55" led tv, ready to get more screen real estate, so you can imagine my surprise when my 55" tv went grey. I went mad, is like a total waste to rawtid. And then display properties come up on the screen they apply to, i like that, so I was hoping the 4 finger swipe would apply to the screen the mouse was on...needless to say again I was disappointed. I dont see the WOW factor in a MAC OS, i really dont.

  • Reply 7 of 86
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

    Did you ever try clicking on the image? It gets bigger and even has arrows navigation for additional images.


     


    Oh, I know; I just want it to fill the entire <p> inline with the rest of the post if the image is at least that big.

  • Reply 8 of 86
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,756member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gosford View Post


    Mac fan boys are all oh windows this and windows dat.. and Mac OS is oh so great...but these problems that mac having are already implemented in almost every windows OS. Ok, so im use to having 2 monitors running different programs at the same time in windows. VLC on one watching movie and the other have google chrome so I can monitor ma email/facebook. I got a macbook pro and the first thing i love is the full screen option which opens a desktop of it own automatically and i can 4-finger swipe through them. I also got a minidisplay to hdmi adapter and connected a 55" led tv, ready to get more screen real estate, so you can imagine my surprise when my 55" tv went grey. I went mad, is like a total waste to rawtid. And then display properties come up on the screen they apply to, i like that, so I was hoping the 4 finger swipe would apply to the screen the mouse was on...needless to say again I was disappointed. I dont see the WOW factor in a MAC OS, i really dont.



     


    Wanna know what the WOW factor is? It's beginning to be about what was NOT included in OS X. 


     


    Like this:


     


     


    image


     


     


    WOW. OS X *doesn't* look like psychedelic clown vomit.


     


    That's just for starters. 


     


    Then there's how all that mess was married to "regular" Windows. Parts of Windows 8 are only available in Metro flavour, parts only in Desktop.


    It's not an either / or. You're flipping back and forth between the two as you work. In terms of CONTEXT - it's as messed up and jarring as you can get.


    Remember BumpTop? Great idea, right? What a concept! All that 3D desktop goodness. All that cool interaction with files. Then you open one of those 


    files and what do you get? A 2-D Finder Window. Orientation and context totally thrown off.


     


    So what is Windows 8 supposed to be? Metro or regular Windows? And if we have regular Windows, what is the point of Metro?  What we have then is something called Windows 8 that's a) either a hybrid of Windows 7.1 and an unnamed OS,


    or a b) mish-mash of both. The non-Windows 7.1 parts of Windows 8 are anything but Windows, and yet . . .  the other stuff *is* Windows.  HUH????


     


    All of this results in a slapping together of mismatched features to achieve a galactic level of clunkiness. 


     


    And why?


     


    Because Microsoft just HAD TO *REACT* in some way - ANY WAY - to the myriad ways in which Apple was embarrassing them up and down the consumer market. 


    When you just react, you don't think. And Windows 8 is anything but thought-out. 

  • Reply 9 of 86
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,016member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


     


    Wanna know what the WOW factor is? It's beginning to be about what was NOT included in OS X. 


     


    Like this:


     


     


    image


     


     


    WOW. OS X *doesn't* look like psychedelic clown vomit.


     


    That's just for starters. 





    I've been using Win 8 for a while, and while I'm not a fan of it in general (the Metro interface that is) when you put it this way, I really lose faith in MS' ability to get anything right.

  • Reply 10 of 86
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    OS X *doesn't* look like psychedelic clown vomit.



     


    I'd quote that if my signature wasn't busy keeping people from starting new threads.


     


    Is Microsoft planning to let us create/replace those Metro icons with our own? We still can't in the RP. I found one for Safari that I'd like to use instead of "blank square, words, tiny old-style icon" (since that's just stupid), as well as icons for other applications…


     


    image


     


    In Windows, I try to make my experience as Windows as possible rather than OS X-ing it up, but I think I might try out a prettier set… 


    image

  • Reply 11 of 86

    Quote:


    Unfortunately, all the other screens are still blanked, but there isn't a simple fix to addressing this in a sensible way.



     


    Well, that's disappointing. So far I've assumed the Mountain Lion improvement would fix exactly that...


     


    And of course there is a simple fix. (Simple regarding the concept, not the implementation.) Just have a regular desktop on one screen, and a full screen app on the other. The mouse cursor moves between the monitors and nothing else does. http://synergy-foss.org/ uses the same concept and feels pretty "sensible".


     


     


    BTW: What's up with this forum software? It overrides right click with a custom "Paste" option, which then tells me it isn't allowed to paste in the first place. Wow. Just let the browser do its own menus...

  • Reply 12 of 86
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,712member
    I'd like to be able to split a desktop/space into 2 side-by-side desktops, each of which behaves like any other desktop so you'd be able to rearrange the split desktops independently. Plenty of room for this on a 27" screen, and it would allow better app organization and the ability to easily rearrange your overall workspace depending on the exact task at the moment.
  • Reply 13 of 86


    Sorry, but the current behavior is completely broken.  Prior to "full screen" one could play a DVD with DVD Player and the player would be full screen on the monitor I chose and I could keep working with menu bar etc. on the other screen.  That was useful.  The 'new' full screen behavior takes away functionality we have had for years.  Let's call it what it is - completely broken for folks with multiple monitors.  I used to be able to go full screen in an app on one monitor and not full screen mode on the other monitors.  Just give us back functionality we already had.  I've had macs since '84, but when Apple does nonsense like this it drives me nuts.  They are taking away functionality in the interest of some purist full-screen vision. 

  • Reply 14 of 86
    fyngyrzfyngyrz Posts: 61member


    I have six monitors. Mountain Lion's Full screen mode becomes six times as stupid on my Mac Pro.


     


    All part of the dumbing down of OSX.


     


    Fortunately, Snow Leopard works pretty well with multiple monitors, and I don't have to be sucked into the (cough) "vision" of whoever came up with this stupidity (or the sandbox, or certificates, or the crippled app store apps...)


     


    Yeah, good luck with the new shiny, kids. If you grow up and actually begin to use your computer for real work, maybe you can get a copy of Snow Leopard on EBay.

  • Reply 15 of 86
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fyngyrz View Post

    All part of the dumbing down of OSX. Yeah, good luck with the new shiny, kids. If you grow up and actually begin to use your computer for real work, maybe you can get a copy of Snow Leopard on EBay.


     


    FUD FUD FUD, THE BOYS ARE MAR~CHING!

  • Reply 16 of 86
    cgjcgj Posts: 276member


    Apple does provide a way for you to use the secondary display as the primary monitor, just go to System Preferences --> Displays, click and hold the white bar above the first blue screen, then drag it to the second one. It's not idea, no, but it works.

  • Reply 17 of 86
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dev tty01 View Post


    Sorry, but the current behavior is completely broken.  Prior to "full screen" one could play a DVD with DVD Player and the player would be full screen on the monitor I chose and I could keep working with menu bar etc. on the other screen.  That was useful.  The 'new' full screen behavior takes away functionality we have had for years.  Let's call it what it is - completely broken for folks with multiple monitors.  I used to be able to go full screen in an app on one monitor and not full screen mode on the other monitors.  Just give us back functionality we already had.  I've had macs since '84, but when Apple does nonsense like this it drives me nuts.  They are taking away functionality in the interest of some purist full-screen vision. 



     


     


    I am confused I am on Lion and from my Mac I can watch a DVD full screen on an external TV set, and on the Mac's screen use the desk top as normal. What am I missing is the problem? 


     


    To do that I have to fiddle with some settings on both the TV and Mac, but it works fine. 

  • Reply 18 of 86
    FUD FUD FUD, THE BOYS ARE MAR~CHING!

    Sadly, he is not wrong though is he.

    It is a real shame. It is unlikely to hurt Apple at all as they are so far ahead of Windows. But it would be nice if they would stop with all the stripping out of OSX.

    The situation almost calls for and OS X Pro. Still X / X Server 10.6.8 will do for a good while yet in most enterprise / business environments.
  • Reply 19 of 86
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,388member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Sedicivalvole View Post

    Sadly, he is not wrong though is he.


     


    No… he is… hence the remark about FUD in the first place… 


     


    Quote:


    It is a real shame. It is unlikely to hurt Apple at all as they are so far ahead of Windows. But it would be nice if they would stop with all the stripping out of OSX.



     


    Nothing is being stripped out. They've added functionality, some would say partial, that had never been in OS X previously at all.

  • Reply 20 of 86
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member


    A phone is a different device from a tablet and a tablet is a different device from a PC. They have different hardware, different screen sizes, different user input methods and different uses. Thus, they should all have a different user interface. A unified user interface leads to messy compromises. 


     


    Microsoft made this mistake with Windows Mobile and now with Metro. It's a shame that Apple is making the same mistake with OSX.

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