Minimizing Windows Versus Hiding Apps

Many new Mac users try to use the buttons at the top of windows to minimize the window and send it to the Dock, when what they really want to do is to hide the whole app. It is usually quicker and more effective to hide an app using Command+H than to minimize a single document window. Learn the difference between minimizing and hiding and when to use each. Another option is to quit the app knowing that the document windows will reappear when you launch it again.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Minimizing Windows Versus Hiding Apps.

Hi, this is Gary with

On today's episode let's look at the difference between minimizing and hiding an app and when you should use each.

Here I am working in Pages. This could be any app. I've got the app running, you can tell right here it says Pages, and I've got a window open here with a document in it. Now the common thing for people to want to do is stop working on it for a little while but maybe not close the document. Not quit out of Pages.

It is easy enough to quit, of course, and get out of Pages but you want to keep working on it after you bring some other things to the front. Check your email, look at the web, a few things like that.

A common mistake that people make is to use one of these buttons up here particularly this minimize button. This is a common mistake windows users who say I want to get Pages out of the way, I'll click that, now Pages is gone and now I can go and run other apps and Pages isn't in the way.

But notice after I've done that Pages is still the app that is running. The document window goes here into the Dock and I can bring it back up. But what I have actually done here is I haven't hidden or minimized Pages in any way. I've just minimized this one window.

For instance, say if I open up a new document, I'm just going to open up a sample document. I've got now two document windows open in Pages. I can switch between them. View them both at the same time. If I click the minimize button notice it doesn't minimize Pages. I've still got this one open. It deals with each document window separately. I can minimize both of them. I can have eight windows open and minimize some of them and have others here. But Pages is always running.

So if you want to get rid of Pages, completely hide everything, you might be tempted to minimize this window and minimize this window and move on but that is not the way to do it on the Mac. The way to do it on the Mac is to simply hide the app. It is very quick and easy.

You go to Pages and hit Hide Pages or Command H which is pretty universal as the hide command. Command H and Pages goes away completely. The app isn't running anymore. It is just all completely hidden.

I can bring it back very easily by clicking on Pages here in the Dock to bring it back. I can hide it again. Also if I am using the application switcher I can use Command tab to switch and go back to Pages and everything opens.

Notice what happens if I minimize say both of these windows and then use command switcher to switch to say Calendar and then I want to go and use Command tab to switch back to Pages it doesn't look like anything comes up. That is because these windows are both minimized which most likely isn't your intention.

The only reason to really use minimize is if you are working on several documents and you only want to hide one of them and leave the other in the front. If you want everything to be hidden from an App use Command H to quickly hide it.

Now it works this way regardless whether or not the application even has more than one window. For instance Calendar has one window here. I can minimize it if I want but if I use app switch and got to Safari and then go back to Calendar the window is not going to reappear until I click down here. So I'm creating extra work for myself.

In Safari here I can minimize a single window or I can do Command H and hide the entire thing. So for power Mac users, for experienced Mac users like myself, I use Command H all the time hundreds of time a day to move between applications very easily. I almost never use minimize. But a lot of windows users gravitate to this because it looks like something similar to what you do in windows but it really is a little different here and it is something you should rarely use on the Mac.

Now you should also note there is another option here. Say I'm in Pages here and have both of these windows open. I'm going to maybe take a break for a while and stop working with these documents. What if I just quit? Command Q, quit. You think well you know I'm going to have to open up Pages and find those documents again.

That is not the case really because the way Mac OS 10 works is when you relaunch Pages it, of course, brings up those documents right away. The documents are automatically saved so you don't have to do any of your own manual saving before you quit and it comes right back to where you were and where you were working on them before.

So you don't necessarily have to hide an app. You can actually quit it if you aren't going to go right back to it in a few minutes and then come back and just run it later. This works for all the Mac apps like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote and a lot of other newer apps as well. For some apps, like older stuff or stuff that is not necessarily Mac only like some of the Adobe products, then you have to do the old fashioned save and open it up again but this works great if you are working say with some Pages documents or Numbers documents or even in something like iMovie or GarageBand. It is very easy just to come back in after you quit.

Comments: 13 Responses to “Minimizing Windows Versus Hiding Apps”

    4 years ago

    I’m a 7-year+ user, but today I learned something new. Thanks, Gary!

    4 years ago

    i am constantly amazed at how user friendly Macs are. Thanks for a great informative and easy to follow lesson

    4 years ago

    Constantly learning things I never knew about the Mac – Thank you for all your informative and easy to follow video lessons.

    4 years ago

    Another fantastic video. Thanks Gary for the information. I have been using the middle button all wrong.

    4 years ago

    Gary, I did not catch the difference in what actually happens between “Hiding” and “Quitting.” Are they the same, or does the App stay a little more live when “Hiding”?

      4 years ago

      The app is still running when you hide it. If the app is doing something in the background (Safari downloading something, for instance) then it will keep doing that. If you quit, then the download will stop. In the case of a word processor, there’s not usually anything it does in the background. But a hidden app can instantly be unhidden. An app that has been quit may take a second or two to launch. In the case of something like an image editing app, it may take even longer to launch if the open document is large.

    4 years ago

    Hi Gary,
    Great video. I tried to use cmd H in pages and it worked as you described. Then I tried cmd q to close pages with 2 docs open and reopen it. It would not open with the files in it. Am I missing something? I have the latest version of Yosemite.

      4 years ago

      Perhaps you changed the default behavior? Check in System Preferences, General, for “Close windows when quitting app.”

        4 years ago

        I also noticed that when I quit a program such as Pages, and then reopen it, it did not reopen the document I was last working with. Also, it doesn’t automatically save a document
        when I quit, it always asks me first. I checked in System preferences under General. “Close windows when quitting an app”, and “Ask to keep changes with closing documents” were both checked. I’ve have never checked those items, so they were checked by default on my system. But its nice to have the choice on these.

        4 years ago

        Thanks you were exactly right as usual. I have just become a bigger fan.

    Steve F.
    4 years ago

    Very useful video. I will send it to some others. Thanks!

    Mr. Krispy
    4 years ago

    I’ve been a mac user since 1989 and am constantly learning capabilities that aren’t readily known to the non-geeks. Not only did I not know about Command H, but also about the Switcher. Thank you Gary.

    4 years ago

    I have been a long time Linux and Windows user and this tutorial was very helpful. The behavior you describe with the minimize button has been annoying me and now I know the _right_ way to do it. THANK YOU!!

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