The following is a Guest Post from iGadgetLife website, which covering tech reviews and news:
Macs are great tools for a lot of different computer uses, and it can be argued that they are one of the most user friendly computer gadgets on the market. But someone new to Macs (or even a more experienced Mac user) may not realize that there are many different ways to manage and ride herd on all of those windows that a typical computing session incorporates.
In fact, there are many tips, tricks, and shortcuts that can make your Mac experience much more productive and enjoyable. Over the years I have found several that I use on a regular basis, and sometimes I still find a new one that is handy. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite Mac window management tricks.
Basic Window Switching
Most users know that command-tab will switch between open windows. But Windows converts may be put off that command-tab only switches between running apps, not individual window instances. That is, if you have five Safari windows open and email, pressing command-tab will switch back and forth between Safari and email – it will not cycle through the open Safari windows as well.
Instead, use the command-tilde ("~") combination to cycle through your Safari windows (or any other multiple windows of the same app, such as Finder). Once you get used to this slight difference (the tilde key is right above the tab on the Mac layout), you will find that being able to cycle through only that app’s current open windows is actually much easier than having to cycle through ALL open windows on the computer.
Another thing to note about window management on OS X is that the first click usually only gives the window focus. That is, if you have a background window that you want to click on, for example a link on a web page, you will find that it is a two click operation, The first click brings the window to the forefront, the second launches the link. There are exceptions to this (as we mention below), but in this way, accidental clicks on background windows are avoided.
Background Window Scrolling
As a user, we sometimes have need of background windows while working in a different activated window. However, switching different apps in and out of the foreground is not always the most efficient way of working. Thankfully OS X offers some handy ways to manage your background windows.
For starters, you can scroll a background window simply by hovering the mouse over it and scrolling. This works equally well with the two finger drag on the trackpad or the scroll ball and wheel on your mouse.
Background Window Positioning
Next thing to remember about managing background windows can be summed up in one word – command. By holding the command button down you can drag a background window to a new position without it ever coming to the forefront. This is great if you are working on an email or document and using a background window as reference material. No more guessing as to the position of your working window when repositioning the background
You can also use the command key when resizing something in the background. This works both when dragging to resize for the perfect fit and when using the Zoom button. For the recent Windows users, the Zoom button is the green button that works much like the "maximize" button on the operating system.
Dragging from Background Windows
So, let’s say that you have a directory of pictures and a document that you are working on that uses those said pictures. Instead of chasing windows back and forth to find the pictures and dragging them into your document, do this instead. Pull up finder, browse to the picture folder, switch to cover flow view, position to the side, and command-tab back to your document.
From that point on grabbing pictures as you need them is as simple as moving the mouse to the side, scrolling through the pics, and dragging them to your work in progress. Your document will remain the forefront window, and you can have as many finder windows scattered around your document as you need to keep things convenient.
Not only can you drag an item from a background window without activating it, you can also drag to a background window and keep it there. If you do want the background window to activate (either direction), then simply hover with the mouse before dragging or dropping the file. You can fine tune this action with Finder under Preferences/General and look for Spring-loaded folders and windows.
Closing Background Windows
When you want to close or minimize a background window, just hover and click on the corresponding window button (red or yellow, respectively). OS X knows enough to close or minimize the window without first forcing focus on the window and then having you click on the buttons.
You can also use the option-command-M keys to minimize all open windows, and option-command-W keys to close all open windows (without the option key the actions work only on the current activated window).
Closing or Minimizing Window Groups
If you have a group of windows from the same application, such as Finder, you can quickly close or minimize all of them by holding the option button (alt to the Windows converts) when clicking the red (close) or amber (minimize to dock) button. This will make all of the current windows of that app do the action at the same time.
For entertainment purposes only, using the shift key when clicking the minimize button will slow down the minimize animation. This is a great way to show off some screen mechanics to users of other operating systems.
One of the easiest ways to manage a lot of windows is to hide everything but those you need at the moment. This is very easily done on a Mac by simply choosing "Hide Others" from the menu. This works great if you are working with a lot of windows instances temporarily (Finder, for example), and you don’t want to minimize all of your other apps. When finished, just select "Show All" from the menu and you are back where you were before.
If you have Snow Leopard, the integration of Exposé into the dock makes life easy to manage multiple windows of the same application. For example, to see all of the Safari windows you have running, click and hold on the icon in the dock. The screen will darken, and an image of the current Safari windows will be shown on the screen for easy selection.
This also works great for windows minimized to the dock, since the minimized items will be shown on the bottom half of the screen. You can also assign a hot key for this as related to the current window under System Preferences/Exposé/Application Windows.
Another great Exposé tip is to use it to launch with either a hot key or (my preference), a corner of the screen. When activated you have a quick display of all windows laid on the screen with the minimized items on the bottom of the screen. Clicking on the background will close Exposé, leaving the foremost application unchanged. This is great for a great "sneak peak" at what windows you have running at the moment.
OS X ships with virtual desktop capability under the name Spaces, and in my opinion it works very well. You can assign as many virtual desktops as is practical (the default is four), and you can launch it by hot key or a hot corner of the screen. You can also assign a key combination to take you directly to a given Spaces screen through the Spaces preferences panel under System Preferences.
However, one thing that is sometimes overlooked is that you can directly drag windows between Spaces when it is activated. This makes it easy to re-organize your work spaces the day goes by and the focus changes. Not that it ever happens…
For those occasions when you want to automatically position windows on the screen, such as two side by side, you might want to check out some apps that will do the dirty work for you. One of my favorites is the free Two Up app, which lets you easily send a window to the left, right, top, or bottom half of the screen with a simple compound keystroke. With two keystrokes you can have any two windows sharing the entire screen in the direction of your preference.
While there are more window management tips that can be used to make your Mac experience a pleasant and productive one, these are some of my favorites. I am convinced that I could not work effectively without a few of these, and you just might find that they work quite well for your uses too.