Hiding apps is a great feature in OS X that few people seems to understand, even Apple don't understand it. It basically allows you to hide apps you don't work with at the moment, so you can better focus on those you do. In difference to making a single app fullscreen, this allows you to focus on two or three apps at a time, while having the rest waiting, hidden in the background.
Apple broke the feature in Lion, and I want it back.
This is how it used to work and why it was so good:
- You have Mail, an editor and a browser open and you switch between the editor and the browser to do your work.
- You get a mail, switch to the mail app and when you're done, hide the mail app so you won't be disturbed again and don't need to think about mail anymore.
- This lands you in the previous app (the editor), and you can continue working. When you switch to the next app (cmd-tab), you will get the browser (since mail is hidden).
This makes a focused work-flow, you can take detours in other apps but as soon as you hide them, they are completely gone and won't bother you any more. They will however remain open so you get notified with new mail, don't need to wait for them to restart, and when switching back to them you will be exactly where you left off.
An additional perk is that there are no animations when hiding and un-hiding apps, unlike going fullscreen which plays a little animation for you before you can continue. Watching animations is of course mandatory, while hiding apps are instant.
This is how it works now, and why it's broken:
- You again have Mail, an editor and a browser open and you switch between the editor and the browser to do your work.
- Just as previously, you get a mail, switch to the mail app and when you're done, hide the mail app so you won't be disturbed.
- As before, this lands you in the previous app (the editor), and you can continue working.
- However, now if you switch to the next app (cmd-tab), you will go back to mail (the machine won't care that it is hidden)
- Since you want mail hidden, you hide it again (go to editor) and cmd-tab to get to the next app, which will again be mail.
You continue hiding mail for a few hours until giving up, and realize that you have only two options.
- Quit mail instead of hiding it.
- After hiding an app, cycle through all visible apps so the app-switcher-list gets correctly re-ordered by visible apps.
None of these are good options. I have chosen #2, but its bizarre how much hate & rage I feel each and every time I do that little dance. "It's just a computer", I try to tell myself. "It's just a stupid little box of stupid. You can't be angry with stupid. Stupid cannot be accountable." But it doesn't help.
Reporting this bug to Apple got the following response: "Behaves correctly".