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Customise Mission Control in OS X Mountain Lion

When you have multiple windows open on the desktop on your Mac, how do you switch from one to another? Mission Control is designed to make this task easy with a special view of the desktop and windows that unhides hidden windows and shows them as large thumbnails. Or does it? With the default settings, windows can still overlap each other, making it difficult to select the one that you want. However, there is a small tweak you can make to Mission Control settings that unhides hidden windows.

Click the Mission Control icon in the Dock at the bottom of the screen and you will see an overview of all the windows that are open and, if you have created them, multiple desktops as thumbnail images at the top of the screen. If you have a single app with several windows, such as three Finder windows showing different folders on the disk drive, Mission Control will group them and they will overlap each other. This can make it hard to see the one you want and to select it.

Mission Control

The solution is to go to the Apple menu, System Preferences and select Mission Control. Clear the tick against Group windows by application. The result is a Mission Control display that ensures that windows from the same application do not overlap. Now if you have four TextEdit documents open you can easily see which one you want.

Mission Control

Use the keyboard

Another way to switch from one app or window to another is to use the keyboard. Hold down the Command key and press Tab. Large app icons are displayed in the centre of the screen and each Tab press selects the next app. Just release the keys when the app you want is selected. Command+Shift+Tab selects the previous app rather than the next one. The only snag is, it doesn't show multiple windows, only apps. So if you have three Finder windows open you just see one Finder icon when switching with Command+Tab. It is still useful though and worth remembering.

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