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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Single window mode...

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Member Since: Apr 19, 2007
Posts: 780
smurfy can only hope to improve
Mac Specs: 20" iMac Core 2 Duo 2.16Ghz, 500GB HDD, 1GB RAM, 128MB ATI Radeon X1600

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I remember watching the announcement of Mac OS X 10.0, and Steve showed single window mode, where you...well, its pretty obvious.

Did this feature disappear? Is it still around in Tiger? How can I turn it on?
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Member Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posts: 440
remain is a jewel in the roughremain is a jewel in the rough
Mac Specs: Power Mac G5 Dual 1.8 GHz

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According to this page,
yes, it was dropped.

Sounded like a terrible idea to me.

John Gruber:

The other thing I remember from the initial Aqua demo was the crazy purple button in the top-right corner of each window. Clicking it would put you in a new “single-window mode,” where you could only see one window at a time. The fact that that feature never saw the light of day is proof that it’s possible to talk Steve Jobs out of a bad idea – that purple button had “Jobs” written all over it.


Was single-window mode such a bad idea? Moved from the purple button to the confines of System Preferences, wouldn’t it be useful for beginners or refugees from the Windows world?

John Gruber:

It might be a good idea for some entirely new system, but I think it was incompatible with the existing Mac UI paradigm. The Mac UI was, and is, meant to revolve around multiple windows. If you’re only going to show one window at a time, what’s the use of even calling it a “window”? Just take up the whole screen.

TiVo, for example, effectively is a computer with a single-window UI paradigm. But it’s screen-based, not window-based. In the same way that it didn’t make sense for Apple to add a single-window mode to Mac OS X, it wouldn’t make sense for TiVo to add a new multiple-windows mode.

As for beginners and Windows refugees, I don’t think they need protection or shielding from the true Mac UI. What would – and does – help them is when the regular UI is consistent, obvious, and intuitive.

Ah, also check this:

The window widgets are straight-forward with the exception of the purple button on the far right that toggles "single window mode." When single window mode is activated, all but the front-most window minimize to the dock. When any other window is un-minimized from the dock, the previously active window automatically minimizes. Thus, only one un-minimized window appears on the screen at a time. This may actually be a useful feature for novice computer users, but a system-wide setting that's of use to only a certain subset of users should not be a widget on every single window in the OS! And even if the setting was applicable to everyone, the title bar is not the place to put system-wide configuration controls. Conceptually, it's as bad as adding a button for the audio volume control to the title bar of every single window!

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