A few months ago, Damien wrote a post about the need to keep windows open on top of others for better productivity. While Afloat for Mac does exactly that, Windowshade X does a little bit more.
WindowShade X is a small software (3.3MB) with plenty of great and useful features that allow you to manage your application windows more efficiently and quickly.
Before WindowShade X
When working with multiple windows on a Mac, you have a couple of options.
* Expose is by far, in my opinion, the most useful native application on a Mac for accessing multiple windows fast.
* Spaces groups open windows into separate work areas.
* Command + M will minimize the open window to the Dock.
While all of these can help manage several open windows, problems still remain. Viewing, quick access, locking a window on top of all others are a few.
After WindowShade X
I”ll give you three guesses what kind of problems WindowShade X solves. If it takes you more than two, your just plain slow. Get a cup of coffee and come back, I’ll wait here.
Okay, now that everyone here is a little more awake, here we go again.
The first solution offered is the namesake of the application. When the title bar of the window is double clicked, the body of the window disappears like a shade. This is great for things that need to be easily accessed, yet out of the way. This feature coupled with Growl notifications are great when using an instant messenger. The message can be read from the pop up notification. If I need to respond, the window is tucked away and easier to get to than if it were in the Dock.
The next feature you didn’t know you needed but will fall in love with is making a window transparent. Double clicking the title bar while holding the Ctrl button allows you to see the window(s) behind the one you are working in. The opacity is adjustable in the settings menu. At first I wasn’t sure I would use this feature a lot. Then I started to make it transparent for no reason just to try it. What I noticed is, I can watch a video playing in the background while I am typing notes. I can look at the cool desktop picture of the day or have a Seesmic open so I can monitor my Twitter feed.
This is probably my favorite of the features. Simply put, it minimizes the open window to the bottom of the screen with a double tap of the Ctrl button. The placement can be changed in the settings menu. I have mine go across the bottom of the screen. What makes this different than using the Command + M shortcut, is you can reopen that same window with another double tap of the Ctrl button. Minimizing a window this way is great if you want to look at something on the page directly behind the open window.
Keep Windows On Top
This last feature can be used in combination with the Windowshade and transparent window options. By double tapping the Command button, the window is locked on top of the others. It can be unlocked in the same way. I was amazed at how much time this feature saved me. Some ways you may want to use this feature would be if you are copying and pasting sections of one form to another. Having both windows accessible by clicking back and forth is a huge time saver. Another great use is, when used in combination with the “Windowshade”, the shaded windows can float on top of the windows for easy access.
The standard commands for minimizing like Command + M still work. However, when the standard methods are used in conjunction with these new features, you will be amazed at how much time you wasted toggling between windows before.
Windowshade X is free to try, but costs $13.50 to own. The demo software is fully functional and is available for trial for up to 15 days. Download it here.
How do you manage multiple open windows on your Mac?