MacMost Now 213: Using Exposé

Learn how to use Expose to make it easier to navigate between your windows and applications in Mac OS X.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 213: Using Exposé.

ary Rosenzweig: Hi! This is Gary with MacMost Now. This episode is brought to you by Squarespace. For a great way to create your own website, check out On this episode, let's take a look at Expose, different ways to use it, and some tricks.
Expose is a technique that's been around in Mac OS X for a while, but not many people use it. But it can be very handy. Basically, what it does is it allows you to go and see all the windows of all your applications at once very quickly, select one, and go directly to it. Let's take a look.
Here's my desktop. There are a lot of different things going on. All you need to do is press the default F9 key. What will happen is it will take the entire thing, find every window of every application that's shown, and show it on the screen all individually. Notice every window is in its own space. There's nothing overlapping.
Now I can simply use the mouse and roll over the different parts of the screen, and it will highlight them and give you a little summary of what it is. It will say this is iPhoto. This is a Safari window, and it tells you what the title of the bug page is. I'll know it's a Safari window, a finder window and tell me what the title is. I can basically click to select that window and out brings that window to the front.
Basically, it's a great way to go and look at all the windows at once, select the one that you want, and jump to it. But there are some more sophisticated ways to use it. For instance, if, instead of hitting F9, you hit F10, you'll get Expose but it will only show you the windows from one application. So if I was in the finder, it shows me the three finder windows.
Now I can go between all the different applications by using the tab key. So I'm in the finder now, and there are the three windows. I click the tab key, now it takes me to Safari and shows me the two windows there. I can continue to go around. There's iPhoto with one window, iTunes with one window, and then back to the finder. I can go ahead and then select any one that I want, by simply hitting the space bar, or I can click on the window.
You can jump easily from one mode to the next. For instance, hit F9 to see all the windows. Then hit tab and it will zero in on the windows from one application only. And you can continue to tab from all of them. You can also go ahead, when you're reading a whole bunch of windows, and use either the arrow keys to navigate through them, or you can use the little track ball on a mighty mouse to go and navigate in two dimensions all around the windows.
You could also, while in Expose, hold down the opt [?] key anytime to see all the titles of all the different windows. When you want to leave Expose for any reason, you can hit the escape key. Now another mode that you can use for Expose is to hit F11. F11 will take everything away and just show you the desktop.
Now you can actually combine things by clicking and dragging a file. There's nothing to drag it to. But while I'm dragging it, I can hit F9 or F10, jump to one of these different Expose views, and that can drag and drop this file into any window I want. So I can drag it into a finder window to move it, into an application to use the file.
You can set up Expose for a lot of different things. For instance, you can completely change the shortcut keys used for each of the three options. You can also assign a mouse button to some of these options as well. In addition, there are hot corners. You can assign a corner of the screen to activate one of these things. For instance, I can go ahead and say, 'Well, I want to go and look at all windows if the mouse is dragged and held in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.'
There are a lot of different options for you to choose here when deciding on your Expose preferences. Now I find Expose to be kind of an acquired taste. Some people try it, and they never use it again. Other people start using it more and more until they can't live without it. So why not give it a try and see if it's something that's useful to you? Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.