You Might Like Front and Center Even If You Don’t Like Classic Switching

Dr. Drang, regarding my enthusiasm for John Siracusa’s new Front and Center utility for the Mac:

I would argue that just because Gruber misses the old behavior doesn’t make it right. When you switch to an app via the Dock, all its windows come forward because you have clicked on a icon for the app. Similarly, when you switch to an app via ⌘-Tab, all its windows come forward because you have selected the icon for that app. But when you click on a background window, you are not selecting an app, you’re selecting a window. So it’s the window that should come forward, not the app as a whole.

I completely agree with Drang. I’d never endorse changing today’s MacOS to use the classic-style “click a window to bring all that app’s windows to the front” behavior. Both for Drang’s reasons above, and simply because Mac OS X has been around too long for it to change. (The Mac was 17 years old when Mac OS X 10.0 shipped in March 2001; Mac OS X/OS X/MacOS will have been around for 19 years soon. Classic remained essential until at least 2004, though — Steve Jobs’s 2002 “funeral” for Mac OS 9 be damned, Mac OS X was way too slow and too incomplete until 10.4 Tiger or so for most serious Mac users. So let’s just call it 20 years of classic MacOS and 20 years and counting of Mac OS X.)

But I think classic-style window activation is worthwhile as an option. And more important is Front and Center’s Shift-click override. When using Front and Center in “Classic” mode, you can Shift-click a background window to bring just that window forward. And, if you prefer the “Modern” mode, where just-plain-clicking a window brings just that window forward, you can Shift-click a window to bring all of that app’s windows forward. That’s the killer feature, no matter which mode you prefer by default, and why I suggest trying it even if you don’t want Classic behavior by default.

Friday, 24 January 2020