Tim Spurling

speeding between windows

While OS X is, I’m sure, very happy and friendly for casual computer use, it can be really bloody annoying if you’re highly caffeinated and trying to do actual work.

The most consistently irritating aspect is probably the window management. While basically any other window manager in use today has some sort of Alt-Tab equivalent for window switching (an ideal solution due to its combination of predictability and instantaneousness), Apple have for some reason chosen to limit the functionality of the keyboard to application switching only.

So, we’re essentially stuck with the visual/mouse-based “Exposé” and/or “Mission Control” system. While based on the sound psychological principle of humans’ naturally location-based memory, therefore perhaps qualifying as ‘intuitive’, it’s not particularly pro.

But, getting to the point of this post, you can at least speed the damn thing up (using the command line obviously):

defaults write com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration -float 0.1
killall Dock

It’s a preference on the Dock, and requires you to restart the Dock (by killing it), because the Dock is what actually draws the fancy window manager views.

That value is in seconds, and is about as quick as you can get it while still being able to see the windows sliding from their original locations on a slow monitor.

I also find the Dock itself mostly pretty irritating and like to have it hidden, with a ridiculously long hover delay (so it essentially never appears normally). However, it’s nice to set its animation speed so it synchronizes with the animation of Mission Control, which still causes it to appear (in which context it’s not so bad):

defaults write com.apple.dock autohide-delay -float 6
defaults write com.apple.dock autohide-time-modifier -float 0.1
killall Dock

There are quite a lot of these hacks buried in OS X’s hidden preference keys, some of which are exposed in GUI form by Karabiner (formerly KeyRemap4MacBook), which I wrote about previously, or the classic TinkerTool.

Sadly though, there is nothing to eliminate (or even hasten) the sideways hurl when switching virtual desktops “spaces”. (Although the Ctrl+1/2/3 shortcuts are at least slightly quicker).

Hope that was informative or useful! Cheers! Bye!

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