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Apple has clearly spent a lot of time figuring out how to deal with visual overload as you work. Exposé is another feature I thought would be of limited real use until I found myself often reaching for it.

With a keystroke or a mouse movement, you can separate all that clutter into a sense of order in one of three ways. Then, click the window you're looking for to bring it to the front.

  • All windows. Press F9 to view all visible windows in an orderly grid (Figure 4.9). Minimized windows appear smaller, below a dividing line on the screen; hidden windows remain invisible. Click a window to bring it to the front and exit Exposé.

    Figure 4.9

    Figure 4.9 Exposé, before (top) and after (bottom).

  • Application windows. Press F10 to view all windows from just the front-most application. Other programs' windows are temporarily hidden while Exposé is active. When you're in Exposé's All windows mode, press Command-Tab and choose an application to switch to the Application windows mode.

    Snow Leopard adds yet another way to access Exposé. Click and hold an application icon in the Dock for the Application windows view.

  • Show Desktop. Press F11 to push everything aside temporarily, revealing the Desktop.

Use Exposé to move content between applications

Hooray, we can view windows using whizzy graphic effects. That's helpful for pulling order out of chaos, but there's more to Exposé than just pushing windows around. It can act as a shortcut when copying and pasting information between applications.

Moving files in the Finder

Instead of spending time getting Finder windows aligned so you can move or copy a file from one to another, shuttle it through Exposé.

  1. Select a file you want to transport and move it slightly to tell the Finder it's in motion.
  2. Press F9 or F10 to engage Exposé. Alternately, drag the file onto the Finder icon in the Dock and wait a moment for Exposé to activate.
  3. Drag the file to your intended destination window and hold it there for a second until the highlight around the window flashes. Exposé kicks you back into the Finder with that window frontmost.
  4. Release the mouse button. The file is moved or copied.

Moving other data

The steps above apply to just about any other data you can move between applications. For example, suppose you want to include a portion of an article on the Web (including images or other formatting) in an outgoing email message.

  1. Select the content in Safari, then drag it onto the Mail icon in the Dock. Exposé arranges Mail and your outgoing message in a grid.
  2. Position the pointer over the message window and hold it there for a few seconds (Figure 4.10). The message comes to the front.
    Figure 4.10

    Figure 4.10 Adding rich data to an outgoing Mail message via Exposé.

  3. Release the mouse button to add the content.
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