6 best Mac OS X window managers
7th May 2010 | 11:15
Control your windows on your Mac
Mac OS X provides you with a great way to access app windows via Exposé. In Snow Leopard, you also get Dock Exposé, enabling you to access an app's windows by click-holding its dock icon.
However, elsewhere, window controls on the Mac are quite limited: you can drag one using its menu-bar, minimise it, or resize it using the handle at the window's bottom-right corner; and there's also a 'zoom' button that toggles the window between its default and user sizes.
For some Mac users, these restrictions are fine, but others hanker for more control, not least after seeing the various window-management goodies in the likes of Windows 7.
With that in mind, here are six of the best add-ons for boosting window access and management on your Mac.
1. Witch ($19)
You can access Mac OS X app windows via Exposé, but getting to one can be slow and awkward, and windows aren't ordered by app (although Command+2 enables this in Snow Leopard's Exposé implementation).
Witch resembles a powered-up version of the app switcher you see when Command-tabbing, but instead of just displaying your apps, all windows are listed. Witch's preferences provide plenty of options regarding the list's appearance, sort order and behaviour. Furthermore, triggers enable you to define shortcuts for a dozen actions, including cycling only the frontmost app's windows, or only those that are minimised.
2. Simple WindowSets ($12.95)
People who regularly work with the same folders waste time opening and positioning Finder windows. Simple WindowSets brings browser-like sessions to Finder, enabling you to save and restore Finder window sets, which can also be updated and resaved at any time.
3. Cinch ($7)
If you're jealous of Aero Snap in Windows 7, Cinch brings similar functionality to Mac OS X. With the app installed, drag any window to the left or right screen edge to resize it to half the screen, or drag it to the top edge to maximise it. To restore a window's original size, drag it from the 'cinched' position.
For the mouse-oriented, Cinch is a great solution, although it's imperfect if you use a second display unless you offset your screens to provide the app with an 'edge' to use.
4. SizeUp ($13)
If you're a keyboard-oriented Mac user who juggles dozens of windows on a large screen, SizeUp will be the best $13 you'll ever spend on an add-on. In a sense, the app's similar to Cinch, but it uses keyboard shortcuts to adjust window sizes and positions.
It also offers way more options than its cheaper sibling: you can send windows to quadrants, the screen's centre (with an optional resize), spaces and other monitors, and you can amend margin and partition settings.
5. WindowFlow Pro ($22)
On sale for $15 at the time of writing, WindowFlow is a good option if you fancy a single app for dealing with the more basic functionality of Witch and SizeUp, along with adding keyboard shortcuts for nudging and resizing windows. Its window-switcher looks great, too, showing a preview of the currently selected window.
6. TotalFinder (free until 1.0; $15 thereafter)
If you investigate TotalFinder, approach it with caution, because it's still in development. However, when TotalFinder's finished, it'll bring a stable tab-based interface to Finder.
Anyone who's used Chrome will feel right at home with the way the tabs work, and the app also integrates a handy dual-pane mode and a system-wide Finder window 'drawer', activated via a hot-key.
Liked this? Then check out 5 smart Mac OS X Finder alternatives
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