Mission Control Is Terrible, Exposé + Spaces Had It Right

  • OSX’s “smart” maximize button that never works the way you want it to.
  • The application file menu is in the OS taskbar, not attached to the window.
  • Double clicking the application bar minimizes instead of maximizing.

Exposé: The Best Window Management Shit Ever

Exposé on OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard

Spaces: The Best Window Management Shit Ever, On Crack

Exposé + Spaces settings in OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard
Not the best/smoothest animated example, but the best I could find on Youtube. Transitions could have been smoother, and organizing of windows in Exposé could have been better optimized, but this setup was amazing. The animation shows the camera pulling out to show each desktop, then Exposé animating in each desktop, giving you total spatial awareness of where each window is. (Animated screenshot taken from youtube.com/revision3)
Exposé + Spaces enacted in OSX

When It All Started to Turn to Shit: OSX Lion

OSX 10.7 Lion introduced Mission Control, a revamp of Exposé + Spaces.

Mission Control in OSX 10.7 Lion
  • “Your application windows will now be grouped together for the same application.” Great, now I can’t see half of my windows because they’re STILL HIDDEN BEHIND OTHER WINDOWS. (You can turn the grouping off, or press space bar over the group of windows to show all the applications windows — not helpful, ended up turning it off entirely.)
  • “Your desktops will be in a nice row up at the top of the screen.” Wonderful, now all I can see is a thumbnail of other desktops, and to see every window on those desktops, I have to switch to them.

When It All Turned to Shit: OSX El Capiturd

So today I installed OSX 10.11 because Jony Ive told me to. As I expected, they made it worse.

Mission Control in OSX 10.11 El Capitan
  • It takes up hardly any less space than the thumbnails, and it is hiding even more information from the user than a thumbnail.
  • Put an option in the System Preferences, “Expose Mission Control Desktop thumbnails by default.” Simple, not a hard UI fix.

How This Rant Started and Why I’m Writing This Shit

I need the computer to feel like an extension of my hand. When it doesn’t, I feel a total barrier between my ideas and my work. When I lived 5 minutes from Fry’s electronics, I individually bought and returned 8 different models of computer mice until I found the one that was perfect, and then I bought 3 of that model. So, considering that Exposé + Spaces was a “reflex of my workflow,” I’ve had this rant building up ever since Mission Control was implemented and totally fucked it up.

Full Screen Split View in OSX 10.11 El Capitan


TotalSpaces by binaryage is a solution to bring back Spaces to OSX, post Snow Leopard. I purchased it immediately, and while it is in the right direction, it just isn’t as slick/usable as Exposé+Spaces was.

TotalSpaces2 by binaryage
  • Mission Control stays intact, but you can enact TotalSpaces and that flicks the screen to show a layout like Spaces did. There wasn’t a transition between like in Spaces though, removing spatial awareness of where desktops and windows were.
  • I use Adobe applications often, and as Adobe doesn’t give a shit about playing ball with native OSX application frames, they really didn’t play ball well with TotalSpaces.
  • Even though I stopped using it, I would pay for it again in hopes of getting Exposé+Spaces back. Again, the above two comments might be dated.

What I Wish Would Happen

I hate when you’re forced to comply with design choices for reasons that look good on paper. I’m okay with El Capitan’s Mission Control being the default setup, but give users the option to customize it how they see fit. Removing nonessential UI and streamlining workflow is definitely part of interaction design — but desktop computers are for power users: we have 30 windows open all the time, we have hundreds of files scattered all over our desktops, and we have to reinstall the entire OS because who the fuck knows why something doesn’t work anymore. Let us be power users and customize it for how we interact with it.



Me? I'm retired, I invented dice when I was 8.

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Andrew Hainen

Andrew Hainen

Me? I'm retired, I invented dice when I was 8.