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  1. #1

    Eric1488's Avatar
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    Confused about COMMAND + TAB and switching between programs
    I don't understand COMMAND + TAB. When I use it, it shows all apps running and then I can cycle through them. But often when I choose a particular application, it doesn't open the window for that app. Only the top level menu bar changes.

    Is there a way that I can get it to open the window of the app I choose, and if no window yet exists (for that running app) then force OS X to open a new window for that app????

    I am running Mountain Lion on an iMac.

    Thanks for any help.

  2. #2


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    If there are no active windows open when you switch to an app, then (of course) there will be no active window shown.

    It sounds like you routinely close (not quit) your apps by clicking the red button in the upper left of the window. On most Mac apps, this does NOT quit the app (if it did, they wouldn't be in the command-tab list obviously). This may be where your confusion is happening.

  3. #3

    Eric1488's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
    If there are no active windows open when you switch to an app, then (of course) there will be no active window shown.

    It sounds like you routinely close (not quit) your apps by clicking the red button in the upper left of the window. On most Mac apps, this does NOT quit the app (if it did, they wouldn't be in the command-tab list obviously). This may be where your confusion is happening.
    OK... I see. Also I noticed that even if an apps window is minimized in the dock, it won't be displayed when choosing that particular (minimized) app while COMMAND + TABing through the running applications.

    Do you know of any third party utilities that would do two things:

    When COMMAND + TABing it will:

    1) Open a minimized app's window (i.e., display that window)

    2) If an app has been closed (say I clicked the red button in the upper left corner) but hasn't yet been quit, then COMMAND + TAB would reopen that app and even open and display the window for that app.

    Thank you.

  4. #4

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    Could be some 3rd party app - have never looked for one.

    The CMD + tab function shows you the apps that are running and brings open windows to the front.

    If you quit minimizing/closing windows, you'll get the basic function you're looking for.

    Don't use that myself - just as easy to hit the icon in the dock for me - not really a keyboard shortcut user.
    I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
    In the Windows world, most everything folks don't understand is called a virus.

  5. #5

    Oneironaut's Avatar
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    First, you have to remember that clicking the little red button on a window does not actually quit the program, it just closes the window. To quit a program, you have to choose Quit from the application menu or better yet, just use Command-Q.

    Then instead of minimizing windows to the Dock, hide the application with Command-H. It will hide the application and its windows from view without quitting. Then when you use the app switcher, the hidden app will appear again.

  6. #6

    Eric1488's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut View Post
    First, you have to remember that clicking the little red button on a window does not actually quit the program, it just closes the window. To quit a program, you have to choose Quit from the application menu or better yet, just use Command-Q.

    Then instead of minimizing windows to the Dock, hide the application with Command-H. It will hide the application and its windows from view without quitting. Then when you use the app switcher, the hidden app will appear again.
    Perfect... Command-H! That gives me exactly what I was looking for. And thanks to everyone who offered input. Appreciate it.

  7. #7

    toMACsh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric1488 View Post
    Do you know of any third party utilities that would ...:

    When COMMAND + TABing it will:

    If an app has been closed (say I clicked the red button in the upper left corner) but hasn't yet been quit, then COMMAND + TAB would reopen that app and even open and display the window for that app.
    That would be pretty hard. First, let's clean up the scenario a bit. It should be:

    "If all the windows of an app have been closed..." (You Quit apps, close windows.)

    Now to your request, more cleaning up.. It should say:

    "...and even open and display a window for that app."

    Now there's the problem. Which window would be displayed? If the computer gets to decide, then it's not likely to be the one you wanted every time. Since you have to define that, you might as well click the file, etc.

    Sounds like what you'd really appreciate is a button on every window that would execute Hide, rather than having to use the key combo. I don't know if such an add on exists.

  8. #8

    Eric1488's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toMACsh View Post
    That would be pretty hard. First, let's clean up the scenario a bit. It should be:

    "If all the windows of an app have been closed..." (You Quit apps, close windows.)

    Now to your request, more cleaning up.. It should say:

    "...and even open and display a window for that app."

    Now there's the problem. Which window would be displayed? If the computer gets to decide, then it's not likely to be the one you wanted every time. Since you have to define that, you might as well click the file, etc.

    Sounds like what you'd really appreciate is a button on every window that would execute Hide, rather than having to use the key combo. I don't know if such an add on exists.
    I think I get it. My understanding is that there are four cases:

    1 - quitting an app (which "kills" it all together from running)

    2 - closing an app's window (which doesn't actually quit the app since it's still running in the background)

    3 - hiding the app's window (which also doesn't quit the app nor really closes the window, it just makes that particular window invisible)

    4 - minimizing a window (which again doesn't quit the app but it "semi-closes" the window by shrinking it to an icon on the right hand side of the task bar).

  9. #9

    Oneironaut's Avatar
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    Precisely.

  10. #10

    toMACsh's Avatar
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    Task bar??

    One slight correction to your understanding... There are some apps that do Quit when you close the window (not minimize or hide it). These are apps that do not have the capability of opening more than one window at a time. One example: Apple's Dictionary app.

  11. #11

    Eric1488's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toMACsh View Post
    Task bar??

    One slight correction to your understanding... There are some apps that do Quit when you close the window (not minimize or hide it). These are apps that do not have the capability of opening more than one window at a time. One example: Apple's Dictionary app.
    You're right... I meant to say dock.

    Thanks for pointing out the exceptions e.g., Dictionary.

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