My take on Application Exposé in Lion


Mission Control, Lion’s most advertised feature isn’t really all that new. It’s the combination of what used to be two separate applications: Exposé and Spaces. Although Mission Control incorporates aspects of both these applications, it doesn’t work the same way they did. It does a lot of things differently, some better, some worse.

What’s left of the original Exposé, is the ability to view all windows of a specific application. Albeit, more complicated (read more key strokes) to use than its counterpart in Snow Leopard, Application Exposé, now called ‘Application windows’, can still improve the way you deal with a lot of open windows.

Of course, you can use it to show all windows of the application currently in focus, that’s handy, but if that’s the only thing you’re doing with it, you are not using it to its full potential.

Where it really shines, is its use in conjunction with ⌘TAB. Once opened the application switcher, it stays open as long as you keep the -key pressed. You can cycle through the applications with TAB/⇧TAB or using the left and right arrow keys. Using the up/down arrow keys, however, will invoke Application Exposé for the application selected, displaying all it’s windows and recently opened documents for applications supporting this new feature of OS X 10.7.

It also works the other way around. Kind of. You can cycle through your opened applications inside Exposé using TAB/⇧TAB. It’s basically a “verbose” version of ⌘TAB.

The default keyboard shortcut for Application Exposé is F10, that is, unless you’re inside Mission Control. F10 in Mission Control quits Mission Control. Another F10 opens Application Exposé. You might think that’s because Apple doesn’t want you to use it from within Mission Control and that’s why it’s not available from within Mission Control. But see, that’s where you are wrong. It is, in fact, available. The only thing that’s changed, is its keyboard shortcut.

It’s not its own, we already established that. In Mission Control, it is invoked using the keyboard shortcut that’s usually reserved to move focus to the next windows of the same application, ⌘`.

It’s the same freaking application, it does the same freaking thing, why in Jobs name does it have to use different keyboard shortcuts in different situations? I don’t get it, I don’t like it.

Different keyboard shortcuts and missing real Mission Control, Apple’s getting sloppy. Why is no one complaining? Am I really the only one using Exposé? It’s ok, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

So, let’s summarise:

  • Application Exposé is now called ‘Application windows’
  • You can use ‘Application windows’ in conjunction with ⌘TAB using the UP and DOWN arrow keys which will display all windows of the selected application.
  • You can cycle between your opened applications in ‘Application windows’ with TAB/⇧TAB
  • In Mission Control ‘Application windows’ uses a different keyboard shortcut: ⌘`
  • Missing real Mission Control integration

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