MacOS Application Switcher

The MacOS application switcher is my second-biggest gripe after the keyboard layout. I am getting better with remembering which modifier keys to press when, as expected. So let’s get to the second thing that will probably pale with routine: the Application Switcher (the thing you get when pressing command-Tab).

Minimizing, Hiding, Obscuring

The core of my issue with the App Switcher boils down to: ‘why the heck does it cycle through application icons that have no action associated with them?’ Which, with some searching, gets me to ‘who thought of this hiding vs minimizing concept, and what were they thinking??’.

So I can minimize windows, which is a first-level UI function there’s that little yellow button at the top-left of app windows, after all. Minimized windows/apps show up in the icon list of the App Switcher - but selecting them does not do anything. At all. Then, windows can be minimized - this is not a first-level feature, but requires a keyboard shortcut. Hidden windows also show up in the app switcher, and if I select them they pop up again. What I could have gotten is minimized things being really minimized, not cluttering the switcher - and then ok, if hiding is a thing for people, let’s have that too. But getting back to the core issue: why does the switcher show me stuff (cluttering up the icon list) that I cannot do anything with? This is actually the worst UI design idea that I’ve come across in many years. There are two concepts here that do a similar thing from the user’s point of view, behave completely differently, and are making a very core UI concept (app switcher) mostly useless in the process. Think differently, indeed.


  • The MacOS App Switcher is conceptually kaputt, by showing stuff that does not do anything at all for the user.