Tame Mac OS X Panther – Animation Tips

April 22, 2006

Enjoy the AnimationMac OS X is full of little touches that, while sometimes silly, make the overall experience more fun. The first interface flourish most users stumble across is the genie effect: the silky-smooth way that windows glide into the Dock when minimized–not unlike a genie into a bottle, as the name suggests. As cool as the genie effect is, it's not the only one available. Choose Dock > Dock Preferences from the Apple menu. In the Dock Preferences pane, you'll see an option labeled Minimize Using. By default, it's set to Genie Effect, but you can change it to Scale Effect.

The scale effect causes minimized windows to shrink as they zoom toward their position in the Dock, but it doesn't deform their shape as the genie effect does. If you have a slower Mac, you might find that using the scale effect slightly improves the performance of window minimization because it is a little less taxing on the system. Even if you have a fast Mac, you might prefer the clean look of windows scaling toward the dock.

There's yet another minimizing effect, but it's hidden away, and you can't get to it through System Preferences. It's called the suck effect. To enable this effect, open the Terminal (/Applications/Utilities), and type the following command after $:

defaults write com.apple.dock mineffect suck

Next, log out by choosing "Log out your name…" from the Apple menu. When you log back in, the suck effect will be enabled. Minimized windows will have the appearance of being sucked into their spot in the Dock–perfect for all you Hoover lovers out there. You can turn off the suck effect by going back to Dock Preferences and reselecting one of the other effects. You don't need to log out again.

Exposing Windows with Exposé
You're probably already familiar with the basics of the Exposé feature introduced in Panther. By default, briefly pressing F9 reveals all currently open windows, allowing you to select one by clicking it with the mouse. Pressing F10 does the same, but it reveals only the windows that belong to the currently active application. Finally, pressing F11 temporarily pushes all windows aside to reveal your Desktop.

But did you know you can also use Exposé as a funky application switcher? First, press F10 to view windows in your current application. Then press Tab several times to cycle through all your open applications. Press Return to select the desired application when it comes around.

You can change the keys used to activate Exposé, and you can assign Exposé actions to extra mouse buttons (if you have them) by using the Exposé Preferences pane in System Preferences.

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