I am sure I am not alone amongst the people new to Mac OS X and familiar with Windows but initially I didn’t like the Command+W (Mac OS X – Close Window) and Command+Q (Mac OS X – Quit Application) over Alt+F4 (Windows – Close Window or Application). Skip a few weeks on though and I really like the Mac model of quitting windows and applications. I think the shift in my attitude towards this is mainly for three reasons:
- The consistency with which these key combinations are implemented within applications. They always just work, predictably. Ctrl+W is implemented in some Windows applications but so inconsistently that I forget it works.
- The key combinations are very easy to press with one hand (something Alt+F4 couldn’t ever be accused of :) and are extremely natural once learned so that using them takes almost zero cognitive power between the thought to close an application or a window and the window closing. The interface is most definitely not getting in the way here.
- The fact that Command+Q works from within the Command+Tab application switch view. It is extremely quick to just move your hand between the Q and Tab keys while holding down Command to quickly quit many applications. This is the “killer app” for this shortcut ;)
Command+Tab (Alt+Tab in Windows) is a bit of a different story for me though and I am not won over with this one yet. I know there are many other ways of switching windows in Mac OS, but as a windows user for such a long time I just can’t help my hand naturally hitting Command+Tab when I want to switch windows. My main issue with this feature in Mac OS is that it shows applications rather than windows and while I can completely understand the design decisions made but I am still at the stage of hitting this when wanting to switch between windows rather than purely applications. I also find it confusing to see what are basically background applications (Quicksilver, Adium, Finder with no open windows) listed in this view and I waste a lot of time tabbing around applications in this view.
I think what I have to do here is start using Expose more and as I am writing this post up, I have mapped it to a mouse button to try and make it more accessible (Fn+F9 as a default pretty much ensured that I didn’t use it :)
There is one more thing about the Command+Tab view that I am going to mention in this post even though it has nothing to do with the keyboard. I love that the icons are drawn dynamically so for example I can see new mail in the Mail icon, I can see my new posts in my NetNewsWire icon and I can see who sent me a message in my Adium icon. I am surprised this is not being used in more innovative ways if (as I suspect) a mac application is responsible for drawing its dock icon just like any other part of its interface rather than simply showing an icon like in Windows.