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Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Panther Edition by David Pogue

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The “Heads-Up” Program Switcher

Only one program can be in front, or active, at a time.

To make a different program active, you could simply repeat the technique you used to launch the program initially. Click its Dock icon, double-click a document icon, or whatever.

You can also switch to a different program by clicking its icon on the Dock. Doing so makes the program, along with any of its open windows and toolbars, pop to the front.

But Panther introduces a faster, more direct program-switching feature—faster, because you perform it entirely from the keyboard. Just hold down the The “Heads-Up” Program Switcher key and begin tapping the Tab key (Figure 4-3).

In fact, you can use this feature in three different ways, all of which are well worth learning:

  • If you keep the POWER USERS’ CLINICWhen Programs Are Actually Folders key pressed, each press of the Tab key highlights the Dock icon of another program, in left-to-right Dock order. Release both keys when you reach the one you want. Mac OS X brings the corresponding program to the front. (To move backward through the open programs, press Shift-POWER USERS’ CLINICWhen Programs Are Actually Folders-Tab.)

Apple calls this Windowslike row of open program icons a “heads-up display,” partly because it’s translucent (like the projected “heads-up display” data screens on a Navy jet windshield) and partly because you don’t have to look down to the Dock to see what you’re doing. (Shown here superimposed on another window to illustrate its translucence.)

Figure 4-3. Apple calls this Windowslike row of open program icons a “heads-up display,” partly because it’s translucent (like the projected “heads-up display” data screens on a Navy jet windshield) and partly because you don’t have to look down to the Dock to see what you’re doing. (Shown here superimposed on another window to illustrate its translucence.)

  • If you leave the Apple calls this Windowslike row of open program icons a “heads-up display,” partly because it’s translucent (like the projected “heads-up display” data screens on a Navy jet windshield) and partly because you don’t have to look down to the Dock to see what you’re doing. (Shown here superimposed on another window to illustrate its translucence.) key pressed, you can choose a program by clicking its icon with your mouse.

  • A single press of Apple calls this Windowslike row of open program icons a “heads-up display,” partly because it’s translucent (like the projected “heads-up display” data screens on a Navy jet windshield) and partly because you don’t have to look down to the Dock to see what you’re doing. (Shown here superimposed on another window to illustrate its translucence.)-Tab takes you to the program you used most recently, and another press returns you to the program you started in.

Imagine that, for example, you’re doing a lot of switching between two programs—your Web browser and your email program, for example. If you have five other programs open, you don’t waste your time Apple calls this Windowslike row of open program icons a “heads-up display,” partly because it’s translucent (like the projected “heads-up display” data screens on a Navy jet windshield) and partly because you don’t have to look down to the Dock to see what you’re doing. (Shown here superimposed on another window to illustrate its translucence.)-Tabbing your way through all open programs just to “get back” to your Web browser.

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