QuickTip: Expose

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Released as part of Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) Expose was one the marquee features of that release. While more than a few features of OS X have come and gone, Expose has not only remained but has occasionally been given new features and most recently with release of 10.6 (Snow Leopard) received a face lift. Basically Expose is a set of features that allows you to see all the open windows of your desktop at once, and then choose which one you want to see. If you really want a treat, start a DVD or an iTunes movie and then initiate Expose, the video or videos continue playing in their Expose state. [ad#468x60 Banner] Part of the "face lift" of 10.6 was a new grid system for Expose. The grid will show you not only the active windows (those that are open) but also show you the in-active windows (those that are minimized.) The active windows appear on the top and the in-active windows appear underneath. A very thin line is barely visible separating the two sets of windows.

Expose has three main features:

  1. All Windows: Shows all windows (Finder & Applications)
  2. Application Windows: Shows only the currently active application's windows
  3. Desktop: All windows slide off the screen, showing only the desktop

There are standard activation keys listed below, but those are the only ways to activate Expose's features. If you have a mouse with more than two buttons, you can use any button to activate Expose (including the Mighty Mouse or the Magic Mouse with 3rd Party software installed). You can also modify your keyboard settings allowing you to activate Expose using a key combination of your choosing.

Below are the standard activation methods for newer and older Macs:

Newer Keyboards (Aluminum & MacBook):

  • F3: Expose - All Windows
  • CONTROL-F3: Expose - Application Windows
  • COMMAND-F3: Expose - Desktop

Older Keyboards:

  • F9: Expose - All Windows
  • F10: Expose - Application Windows
  • F11: Expose - Desktop

Trackpad (MacBooks with Glass Trackpad):

  • 4 Finger Swipe - Down: Expose All Windows
  • 4 Finger Swipe - Up: Desktop

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