Death to minimization

November 17, 2007

The fairly useless minimize widget gets top billing on most operating systems. Do any Mac users actually use this? Oh, I used to minimize back in the day, when I switched from Windows to Mac OS X 10.0, and the Genie effect made me giddy like a schoolgirl. Nowadays, though, if a window gets minimized on my machine, it was either by accident, or by a Windows user who sat down and is trying to find the web browser.

Supposedly, minimizing windows is for getting to the window behind those windows. Is minimizing ever really better than switching (⌘-Tab and ⌘-~), Hiding (⌘-H), closing (⌘-W and ⌘-Q), Spaces, and Exposé? Honestly? Or are you secretly trying to get to your Desktop?

Unless you’re a 90s Windows user who launches apps using shortcuts on your desktop, you should for the most part be leaving your desktop alone. Your desktop is not a destination. Some people, myself included, use their desktop as an inbox. That’s fine, and your file browser is a perfectly fine way to browse those files, rather than individually minimizing every application you have open, then bringing them back up later when you go back to work. On a Mac, you can’t even return to a minimized window using the keyboard!

Some people minimize windows because it’s so easy - one of the three prominent things you can do to a window. Close, minimize, and zoom. Windows Vista already did the right thing ((I know, hell froze over.)) and made minimize and zoom buttons smaller than the close button. Maybe we’d be better off if the minimize button was replaced entirely with something more useful. How about opening a new window, some sort of docking functionality, or a tie-in to Exposé? In any case, I think the time has come to wean people off this tired user interface idea.

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.