*Coder Blog

Life, Technology, and Meteorology

Window Management

Brent Simmons writes: “Are you a closer, minimizer, or hider?”

If I didn’t have virtual desktops, I would be a hider first, and then a minimizer. I almost never close windows that I’ll get back to in the next several days.

But I do have virtual desktops, and that makes my life so much easier. I have 8 desktops in Desktop Manager right now. Here’s what I use them for:

  • News Desktop: NetNewsWire is always open here and I can get my news fairly quickly just by switching to this desktop.
  • Chat/Seasonality Desktop: This is where I have my iChat windows displayed, so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. Since those don’t take up too much space, I also have Seasonality displayed on this desktop for quick weather checks.
  • Email Desktop: ‘nough said, Mail.app’s window(s) are on this one.
  • Web/iTunes Desktop: I usually try to keep all my Safari windows on this desktop, but since I hit the web from random tasks so often, I usually have Safari windows all over the place. I try to keep all web pages relating to one task in a single tabbed window. This way, if I want to come back to a task later, I can just minimize one Safari window and it’s all there for when I’m ready to work on it again. This is usually the desktop that iTunes gets thrown on as well.
  • Development Desktops 1-4: These are the desktops I use for application development. Xcode will take 2-3 desktops, depending on how I am using it. Usually I’ll have my projects (Seasonality is one app project, and two Framework projects) open on one desktop, and the API reference open on a second desktop. If I am looking at code in another project as an example, I’ll open that project on a third desktop. Why 4 then? Well, when I do graphics work, sys admin stuff, or update the website I’ll sometimes need 1 or 2 more desktops to work with.

I don’t use Expose much, except on my development desktop with Xcode windows. Xcode opens so many different windows for debugging, run log, SCM, etc (and this is without opening separate document windows for each file), that it’s often difficult to keep track of everything. I have F13 mapped to the Expose command because it’s the largest F-key on the Apple keyboard which makes it easy to find. When Tiger comes out, I’ll probably have that mapped to showing the Dashboard, so I guess I’ll have to get used to hitting F12 instead.

As far as my dock is concerned, I have it displayed on the left side of my screen justified to the top. I would rather have the bottom of the screen for taller code windows and widescreen displays offer plenty of horizontal space. Finally, I turned off dock magnification because when I’m going for an icon I don’t want it to move on me all of a sudden.

Hmm… This ended up being a lengthy answer to a seemingly simple question. 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Philippe Martin

    April 11, 2005 at 11:05 pm

    I couldn’t agree more about virtual desktops! Personally I use CodeTek’s, with 20 desktops. I use them pretty much like you, with one desktop for email, one for NNW, one for Safari, one for iChat, one for Frontier, two or three for Xcode, etc.

    I almost never hide an application, but I often “shade” windows, using Unsanity’s WindowShade. I just can’t figure out why Apple dropped that feature!

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