In Mac OS X, Exposé is a tool for managing open windows (especially large numbers of windows), allowing the user to quickly see all open windows (or specific sets) without the need to click through many windows to find a specific target.
Exposé has three different modes using different criteria to organize the windows:
- Exposé can show all open and unhidden windows, shrinking their appearance so they all fit on a single screen. By default, this can be activated using the F9 key.
- Exposé can show all open and unhidden windows for the currently-active application. Again, the windows shrink to appear on the screen together, but generally they shrink less because there are fewer windows in a single application compared to the system as a whole. In the default preferences, this can be activated using the F10 key.
- Exposé can move all windows off the screen, giving the user clear access to the Desktop. In the default preferences, this can be activated using the F11 key.
In the first two cases, after Exposé is activated, the user can select any window by clicking on it or selecting it with a keyboard-driven cursor and pressing Enter. Exposé then deactivates, leaving the selected window in the foreground.
The key used for activating Exposé can be customized to be any of the function keys, the shift, control, option or command key, the fn key on PowerBooks and iBooks, or even a mouse button on multiple-button mice.
The Quartz Compositor ensures that the animations and rescaling are quick and smooth.
Exposé was introduced with Mac OS X 10.3 ("Panther") in October 2003. Since then, several Microsoft Windows and Linux applications have duplicated its functionality, including WinPLOSION (originally called WinExposé) and Expocity.
Source and References
Another extremely valuable yet little known feature of Expose is that data can be dragged from one window to another. For example, text can be grabbed from a Safari window, then invoke Expose's "Show All Windows" (default F9 key), hold the picture over an "exposed" email window, wait briefly until the Expose mode terminates (with a triple-flash of the window) and pops up, then drop the text in. This can likewise be done with Expose's Show Desktop mode (default F11) if, for example, you wanted to drop a text clipping, picture or file attachment into an email.
This workflow can be further enhanced in two ways. First, assigning Expose's modes to buttons on a mouse reduces ergonomically wasteful trips to the F9-11 keys. Secondly, there is no need to wait for Expose to turn off while hovering over your destination document, as it can be turned off immediately by hitting the Expose mode key (or assigned mouse button) as soon as you want.
The combination of assigning Expose to mouse buttons, allowing for fast invoking and terminating of Expose's modes, can improve workflow surprisingly well. Consult these Quicktime videos for demonstrations.
Selecting windows (beware of a loud soundtrack on this movie): http://www.ambrosiasw.com/news/upcoming/images/spx2_panther_expose.mov
Grabbing text from a browser window and a jpeg file from the Desktop and adding them into an email: http://www.ambrosiasw.com/news/upcoming/images/spx2_panther_expose_drag.mov
Expose in slow-motion: http://www.ambrosiasw.com/news/upcoming/images/spx2_panther_expose_slowmo.mov
This type of functionality does not exist in Windows Vista's "Windows Flip" or "Flip 3D".