Hiding Programs the Old-Fashioned Way

When it comes to getting windows out of your way, nothing can touch Mission Control and Exposé for speed and entertainment value. Once you’ve mastered those features, 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 giveth, but they never taketh away. All 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

For the purposes of this discussion, when a program is hidden, all 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 frontmost program, OS X offers a whole raft of approaches. 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 its windows.

  • Option-click any other program’s icon on the Dock. You open that program (or bring all 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, choose Hide iPhoto (or whatever the program is). The Application menu ...

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