Mission Control (OS X)
Screenshot of Mission Control in OS X Lion.
|Initial release||October 24, 2003
(OS X v10.3 "Panther")
|Stable release||1.2 / July 25, 2012|
|Type||Window management tool|
Mission Control, formerly Exposé, is a feature of the OS X operating system. First previewed on June 23, 2003 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference as a feature of the then forthcoming Mac OS X v10.3, Exposé allows a user to quickly locate an open window, or to hide all windows and show the desktop without the need to click through many windows to find a specific target. Exposé was replaced in OS X 10.7 by Mission Control.
Exposé includes three separate features for organizing windows and open applications:
- All windows
- Shows all open and unhidden windows, shrinking their appearance so they all fit on a single screen. By default, this can be activated on older keyboards using the F9 key or by pressing F3 key on the newer Apple aluminum keyboards and the MacBook/MacBook Pro keyboard.
- Application windows
- Shows all open and unhidden windows for the currently active application. Again, the windows shrink to appear on the screen together, but generally they shrink less because there are fewer windows in a single application compared to the system as a whole. During this mode, the user can cycle through windows of different applications by pressing the tab key. In the default preferences, this can be activated using the F10 key on older keyboards or by pressing Control F3 on newer Apple aluminum keyboards and the Macbook keyboard. On OS X 10.6, it can be activated by clicking and holding the application icon in the dock.
- Moves all windows off the screen, with just the edges of the windows visible at the side of the screen, giving the user clear access to the desktop. In the default preferences, this can be activated using the F11 key or by pressing Command F3 on newer Apple aluminum keyboards and the Macbook keyboard.
In the first two cases, after Exposé is activated, the user can select any window by clicking on it or selecting it with arrow keys and pressing Enter. Exposé then deactivates, leaving the selected window in the foreground. Using Apple Mighty Mouse, it is possible to select a window using the Scroll Ball, by scrolling in the direction of that window.
The key used for activating Exposé can be customized to be any of the function keys, the shift, control, option or command key, the fn key on Mac laptops, or even a mouse button on multiple-button mice (including Apple Mighty Mouse).
Exposé can also be activated by moving the mouse to a corner of the desktop using a feature called Active Screen Corners (which is off by default). It can also be activated with a four-finger gesture on the trackpad (only on the current-generation MacBook and 'MacBook'Pro, or by using Apple Magic Trackpad.)
Exposé also works with Spaces, a new feature in OS X v10.5 Leopard, so that a user could see the windows in each desktop scaled down while looking at a scaled down version of each space.
Changes in Mission Control
When Exposé first premiered in 2003, it could be controlled using the F9, F10 and F11 keys.
The Exposé shortcut keys were moved to the F3 key to make room for the "rewind", "play/pause" and "fast forward" keys. On Mac keyboards made after 2004, Exposé can be activated by using the F3 key or in combination with the command key, or on the trackpad of Macbooks supporting multi-touch interface. (However, F9, F10 and F11 can still be used for controlling Exposé with the function modifier key, or by enabling the "Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys" setting.)
On OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), Exposé featured a new organized grid view and allowed users to activate Exposé from the Dock.
In OS X 10.7 (Lion), Exposé is replaced by Mission Control. It gives an overview of all running applications just like "All windows" but groups windows from the same application. At the top of the screen it gives quick access to the Dashboard, Spaces, and running full screen applications. There however does exist an option for multi-touch trackpad users to gesture an Expose view of the current application (swipe four fingers up or down to show the desktop or display all open windows in Exposé.)
However it is not possible to get an unobscured "Exposé" view of all the windows in single workspace, since windows of the same application are always hidden in bundles. In situations with many windows of the same application the 'mission control' screen will show the user less content, rather than more. It is impossible to select the desired window when there are, for example, 5 Terminals and 4 PDFs displayed. For this reason many users had avoided upgrading to OS X 10.7. This issue was fixed in OS X 10.8, however, with a checkbox in the System Preference pane allowing a user to select between traditional Exposé behavior or newer Mission Control-inspired behavior. Although this option restores much functionality of the previous implementation of Exposé, it does not show the names of the windows displayed, nor does it return the added functionality provided by the <10.6 multiple desktops feature, known as "Spaces," which allowed users to drag and drop windows between desktops with a single click, and also allowed for larger thumbnail previews of each desktop in a 2D grid when in use.
The "blob" is a hidden and undocumented interface to Exposé that was discovered by a member of the MacNN forums. When clicked, it enables the "Application Windows" mode. When Option+clicked, it enables the "All Windows" mode.
Another undocumented feature of Exposé is for the show desktop function. It places all the open windows in a small box on the screen that can be moved to anywhere on the screen. This function has some bugs, after exiting the show desktop mode, the foremost window will not have a shadow and the user will not be able to move the window. However, this is easily fixed by using the show all function. It also had another bug that causes an area of screen the width of the minimised preview to become unresponsive to mouse clicks requiring the windowserver to be restarted.
Using the Shift key, Mission Control can be activated in slow motion, as can Dashboard and the minimise effect and several other animations. This is the same effect that was demonstrated by Steve Jobs during the unveiling of Exposé during the 2003 Worldwide Developers Conference.
Similar effects are used on other operating systems.
Compiz and KWin are compositing window managers for systems using the X Window System. Both include plugins similar to Exposé - the scale plugin in Compiz and the present windows effect in KWin. Skippy also performs similar functions to Exposé.
Starting with version 3.0, the GNOME desktop environment has gained a new mode called "Overview", which is used to launch applications and manage workspaces. In this mode, windows are scaled and arranged in an Exposé-like fashion for quick switching.
Microsoft Windows Vista as well as 7 provides a feature called Windows Flip 3D, which has a vaguely similar purpose. Flip 3D allows a user to flip through all open windows in a manner similar to how the application switcher works (alt+tab). A downside to this method is that the frontmost window covers a significant portion of the other windows, unlike Exposé. On the other hand, this allows the user to see the contents of the frontmost window, while this can be difficult in Exposé, especially if the user has a large number of windows open. However, Vista's Desktop Window Manager exposes a public API that allows any application to access the same thumbnail representations that Flip3D uses, and so there are a number of third party add-ons that are able to provide Exposé-like functionality in Vista. A very few third party applications, such as the Emcee Desktop Organizer, provide Mission Control like organization of similar windows into visual "stacks," or support Windows 8's "Immersive" Apps.
Microsoft's Intellipoint Software for Microsoft Mice has a feature similar to Exposé as it also works with live images of windows, rather than a static representations. Additionally, several freeware Windows applications exist to emulate the functionality of Exposé.
For Classic or Legacy Macintosh systems, the free Finder Workspaces offers functionality similar to Spaces.
- "Apple Previews Mac OS X "Panther"". Apple Press Release Library. June 23, 2003. Retrieved August 19, 2006.
- Caolo, Dave (July 20, 2012). "OS X Lion and Mission Control". The Unofficial Apple Weblog. AOL. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
- sandsl (October 9, 2003). "wvous: 'Hidden' Dock Feature". MacNN forums. Retrieved August 20, 2006.
-  Tutorial at macosxhints.com
- "OS X Panther - Expose". YouTube. September 7, 2007.
- Pogue, David (2011). OS X Lion: The Missing Manual. O'Reilly Media. p. 176. ISBN 9781449397494.
- "Instant Viewer".
- "Finder Workspaces 2.2".