Hiding Programs the Old-Fashioned Way

When it comes to getting windows out of your way, nothing can touch Exposé for speed and entertainment value. Once you’ve mastered it, the traditional rituals of hiding windows will seem charmingly quaint. “When I was your age,” you’ll tell your grandchildren, “we used to have to hold down the Option key to hide windows!”

But you know the drill at software companies: They addeth, but they never taketh away. All of the old techniques are still around for the benefit of Mac fans who use them by force of habit.

Hiding the Program You’re Using

When a program is hidden, all of its windows, tool palettes, and button bars disappear. You can bring them back only by bringing the program to the front again (by clicking its Dock icon again, for example).

If your aim is to hide only the program you’re currently using, Mac OS X offers a whole raft of approaches to the same problem. Many of them involve the Option key, as listed here:

  • Option-click any visible portion of the desktop. The program you were in vanishes, along with all of its windows.

  • Option-click any other program’s icon on the Dock. You open that program (or bring all of its windows to the front) and hide all the windows of the one you were using.

  • Option-click any visible portion of another program’s windows. Once again, you switch programs, hiding the one you were using at the time.

  • From the Application menu—the boldfaced menu that bears the program’s name—choose Hide iPhoto (or whatever the program ...

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