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You are here: MacNN Forums > Software - Troubleshooting and Discussion > macOS > help me find this OSX feature

help me find this OSX feature
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hart
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Jan 29, 2008, 07:43 PM
 
OK, here's my vague description:

it's a horizontal window that occurs across the middle of the screen while fading out other open windows. I believe it lists open applications and you can cycle through them to pick the one you want. Some key combo brings it up and the only way I see it is when a cat sits on my keyboard just right. Random pushing of buttons can't seem to replicate it.

I can't find it in System prefs, it doesn't seem to be related to Expose and whatever it's called I can't locate in Help by trying to look at lists of key combos or any creative combination of search words.

What the heck is it?

Thanks!
     
Art Vandelay
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Jan 29, 2008, 07:44 PM
 
Command-Tab
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mduell
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Jan 29, 2008, 08:04 PM
 
Apple-Tab
     
Art Vandelay
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Jan 29, 2008, 08:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
Apple-Tab
You should get used to saying Command, not Apple. It's always officially been the Command button and the new keyboards don't even have an Apple on them anymore.
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mduell
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Jan 29, 2008, 10:29 PM
 
Wasn't sure if the OP has the latest keyboard, and if he doesn't he'd be confused.
     
MacosNerd
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Jan 29, 2008, 10:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
You should get used to saying Command, not Apple. It's always officially been the Command button and the new keyboards don't even have an Apple on them anymore.
My 6 month old MBP does and personally I know it as the apple key and not the command key
     
tripletaker
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Jan 29, 2008, 11:18 PM
 
Since the question's been answered, in Windows, it's Alt-Tab.
     
Art Vandelay
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Jan 30, 2008, 12:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by MacosNerd View Post
My 6 month old MBP does and personally I know it as the apple key and not the command key
That's because it doesn't have the new keyboard on it. So far, only the aluminum keyboards, current MacBooks, and the MacBook Air have it.

Anyways, the point still stands. We should all try to call it the Command key. That's what it's always been officially called and there isn't even an Apple on the key anymore on all new keyboards going forward.
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hart  (op)
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Jan 30, 2008, 09:58 AM
 
thank you. What is this feature called anyway?

as for "command" do the new keyboards have "cmd" printed on them or what? I didn't look when I was using one. I find non-power users have no idea what the "command" key is and I usually have to say "the one with the little apple on it." For that matter the little square infinity command symbol or whatever you want to call it is pretty obscure. How is a reasonable person supposed to guess that either of those symbols stand for "command"? And while we're at it, when I read lists of key combos those symbols they use to stand for option, control and shift aren't exactly clear as glass either. I have to experiment every time to figure it out.

Anyway, thanks for the key combo. It's annoying to have my cats be able to enable a feature when I can't. My favorite cat-enabled key combo is command+option+shift+8. That one took me a while to figure out.
     
analogika
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Jan 30, 2008, 10:02 AM
 
Command-Option-Shift-8 doesn't do anything on my machine.
Command-Option-Control-8 inverts the screen (this can be looked up and changed in the System Preferences' Mouse & Keyboard pane, btw.).

The new keyboards have "Cmd" or "Command" written on them - some international markets still get the Apple key.

The cloverleaf symbol I usually call "cloverleaf".

The function you've just found I usually call "application switcher" or just "Command-Tab".
     
hart  (op)
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Jan 30, 2008, 10:08 AM
 
right, cmd-opt-control-8, sorry.

alt-tab works in windows? great, I'll have to remember that one too.
     
silver
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Jan 30, 2008, 02:36 PM
 
Yes, command-tab has been a feature since the OS X public beta days. Also alt-tab has been a feature of XP from XP SP0 days.

Remember to explore any OS your using and you'll find many key combo shortcuts to make life easier.


Cheers
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Art Vandelay
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Jan 30, 2008, 02:45 PM
 
It's been a feature of Macs long before OS X and PCs long before XP.
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peeb
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Jan 30, 2008, 02:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
You should get used to saying Command, not Apple. It's always officially been the Command button and the new keyboards don't even have an Apple on them anymore.
You should get used to saying 'command' when talking to up-tight Apple nerds who already know what you're talking about, and 'Apple' to anyone who you are trying to help who can't figure out how to do something.
     
analogika
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Jan 30, 2008, 03:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
You should get used to saying 'command' when talking to up-tight Apple nerds who already know what you're talking about, and 'Apple' to anyone who you are trying to help who can't figure out how to do something.
Good luck explaining that to some newb who DOESN'T ACTUALLY HAVE AN APPLE LOGO ON THE KEY ANYMORE...
     
silver
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Jan 30, 2008, 04:25 PM
 
Ah yes, thinks for clarifying that Art Vandelay.
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hart  (op)
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Jan 30, 2008, 04:33 PM
 
clearly there's a user interface problem with this whole apple/command/unclear symbol issue.

So, when you know what you're looking for you can find it in Mac help. Which is a little useless. Searching "application switcher" turns up a page that is titled "switching between applications" and within THAT page this feature is identified officially as the Application Switcher.

So to be thorough here is the official info on this feature:


Press and hold the Command key, then press Tab to view open applications.
Highlight an application by pressing the Right Arrow key (or by pressing Tab) to move to the right. Press the Left Arrow key (or press `) to move to the left. Press Home to move to the far left, or press End (if available) to move to the far right. You can also use the mouse to point to the application you want.
To hide a selected application, press H.
To quit a selected application, press Q.
To switch to a selected application, release the Command key or press Return.
To leave this view without switching applications, press Esc or the period (.) key.
To switch between open windows of an application, press Command-Accent (`).

To view each application's windows while switching between applications, press F10 to view the current application's windows then press Tab to view another application's windows. Press F10 again to switch to the application whose windows you see.

You can quickly switch from the current application to the last application used by pressing Command-Tab (and releasing the keys).

If you have a Mighty Mouse, you can assign a mouse button to open the Application Switcher. You set this in the Mouse pane of Keyboard & Mouse preferences.

-----------------------------
So, Oh Joy!, I find that my Logitech Cordless Click Plus has the little top button that I never use assigned to Application Switcher. Learn something new every day.
     
0157988944
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Jan 30, 2008, 05:49 PM
 
Even worse than the stupid keyboard symbols are the symbols they show in the menus. If they are going to put cryptic symbols in the menus, put them on the corresponding keys, too!
     
analogika
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Jan 30, 2008, 06:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by adamfishercox View Post
Even worse than the stupid keyboard symbols are the symbols they show in the menus. If they are going to put cryptic symbols in the menus, put them on the corresponding keys, too!
Actually, ALL of them ARE on the corresponding keys - except for the "Control" caret - ^. That's the *only* one that's not printed on the modifier keys themselves.
     
0157988944
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Jan 30, 2008, 06:37 PM
 
Shift and option are not printed on the keys, either on the aluminum keyboards.
     
Chuckit
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Jan 30, 2008, 06:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by analogika View Post
Actually, ALL of them ARE on the corresponding keys - except for the "Control" caret - ^. That's the *only* one that's not printed on the modifier keys themselves.
You live outside America? I've seen this on foreign keyboards, but in America only command normally has any symbols on it.
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Brass
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Jan 30, 2008, 10:06 PM
 
Apple really should have had this sorted out by the end of the 1980s. No matter what your take on it, there's no doubt that there's a lot of confusion amongst some users.
     
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Jan 30, 2008, 10:39 PM
 
⌘ = Command
I personally wish Apple had dropped the  symbol from the keyboard long ago.
     
Brass
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Jan 30, 2008, 10:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cadaver View Post
⌘ = Command
I personally wish Apple had dropped the  symbol from the keyboard long ago.
Exactly. They should have kept the ⌘ for recognition against menu shortcuts listed in the menus next to each command, dropped the , which really has no use there at all, and added the word "command". It appears they're finally heading in this direction with the new aluminium keyboards, but this should have been done 20 years ago!

They should be doing likewise with the other keys. Have the shortcut symbol, and an english word on each key. This makes it easy to relate to menu shortcut symbols, and easy to discuss with other users.
     
Cipher13
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Jan 30, 2008, 11:33 PM
 
Honestly, it takes less than 30 seconds to learn.

^ = control.
up arrow = shift.
alternate route symbol = option.
cloverleaf/infinite loop = command.

Done. If you can't figure it out, you should probably just stick to the menubar.
     
monkeybrain
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Jan 31, 2008, 12:01 AM
 
Why is Apple so inconsistent on the labeling of keyboards across the world? My British keyboard has 'alt' not 'option' and also the option symbol. It has 'ctrl' but no control symbol (even though the key is the same size as the 'alt' one). Shift, tab, backspace, and caps lock only have symbols on them. While escape only has 'esc'. My command key has an apple and the cloverleaf symbol.

Surely ALL of Apple's keyboards should have the symbols on them and then optionally the word abbreviated in the native language of the keyboard's market.
     
Brass
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Jan 31, 2008, 12:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by Cipher13 View Post
Honestly, it takes less than 30 seconds to learn.

^ = control.
up arrow = shift.
alternate route symbol = option.
cloverleaf/infinite loop = command.

Done. If you can't figure it out, you should probably just stick to the menubar.
It's obvious to you and to me, but it's clearly not as easy for some people. And surely nobody has anything to lose by NOT having the symbols printed on the keys?

And why should anybody have to "figure it out" in the first place? (presumably by randomly hitting keys, or researching on the internet). It should be so obvious that it requires no "figuring out". Isn't that the whole point of an intuitive interface?
     
Chuckit
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Jan 31, 2008, 12:24 AM
 
Originally Posted by Cipher13 View Post
Honestly, it takes less than 30 seconds to learn.

^ = control.
up arrow = shift.
alternate route symbol = option.
cloverleaf/infinite loop = command.

Done. If you can't figure it out, you should probably just stick to the menubar.
That might be sufficient if your post were included in the box with every copy of OS X. In reality, though, there is nothing obvious to indicate what these symbols mean.
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voodoo
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Jan 31, 2008, 12:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
You should get used to saying Command, not Apple. It's always officially been the Command button and the new keyboards don't even have an Apple on them anymore.
mduell doesn't even have a mac.. just a strange obsession with this forum.

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voodoo
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Jan 31, 2008, 12:27 AM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
That might be sufficient if your post were included in the box with every copy of OS X. In reality, though, there is nothing obvious to indicate what these symbols mean.
I like those little mysteries in the Mac OS.

V
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Hal Itosis
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Jan 31, 2008, 04:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by Brass View Post
Apple really should have had this sorted out by the end of the 1980s. No matter what your take on it, there's no doubt that there's a lot of confusion amongst some users.
Some of us have been around using Macs that long, and this is the first case of "confusion" I've heard of.

Folks usually learn about ⌘ on day 1 and then never question it again.
⌘ is used (*mostly*) to run commands... we call it the "command" key.

End of story. [GEDT not required.]

I have seen threads expressing interest to learn more about its origin...
More on the History of Apple's Command Key

But (as far as online talk since the early/mid 90's), no confusion.

HONESTLY.
-HI-
     
peeb
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Jan 31, 2008, 11:49 AM
 
Actually, there is some confusion. Until the most recent keyboards, the so-called "Command key", was almost universally known as the "Apple key" because it had an Apple symbol and an un-named squiggle on it. Apple nerds would occasionally insist on calling it the "command key" for no particularly apparent reason. Now it seems Apple has begun to label the key "Command", which should provide satisfaction for Nerds, but confusion to people who have to figure out where the Apple key went.
     
hart  (op)
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Jan 31, 2008, 12:09 PM
 
I'm glad everyone is so smug but no, as far as I can tell, most non-geek users don't learn this stuff except under duress, if ever. I get called on to help my family and neighbors frequently and I almost always have to explain which is the command key.

as for the "alternate route" symbol: what the heck? That zig-zaggy thing never said "alternate route" to me. It never said ANYTHING to me. Now that you point it out I guess I get it. And in terms of visual symbolism what's the difference between an up caret and an up arrow? Not much. For that matter, why is an up caret control?

I am completely comfortable with using keyboard shortcuts but the menu symbols firstly aren't obvious and secondly aren't on the keys so there is no obvious pathway to figuring out the connection among them without experimentation.

But after this discussion I think I may overcome my mental block and have them memorized. Finally. Oddly the command key which forms the bulk of this conversation is the only one I just learned automatically, probably because it's PRINTED ON THE KEY!
     
Art Vandelay
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Jan 31, 2008, 01:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by peeb View Post
Apple nerds would occasionally insist on calling it the "command key" for no particularly apparent reason.
Yeah, that no apparent reason was because Apple has always called it the Command key. All Apple documentation back to the very first Mac has referred to it as the Command key.
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SVass
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Jan 31, 2008, 01:32 PM
 
Both my Apple II and my Apple II GS show an open apple logo on them. Open apple was the preferred name. sam
     
analogika
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Jan 31, 2008, 03:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
You live outside America? I've seen this on foreign keyboards, but in America only command normally has any symbols on it.
Ah, I see.

German MacBook keyboard from late 2006: Shift, Caps lock, Tab, Option, and Command key have symbols on them. Option key also has "alt" label.

From what I remember, Apple didn't START putting the Apple symbol on Mac keyboards until the mid-1990's.

Before then, it was always just the cloverleaf and "Cmd" labels - probably to differentiate it from the Apple II world, with its "Open Apple"-"Closed Apple" dual modifiers.
     
Brass
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Jan 31, 2008, 06:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by Hal Itosis View Post
Some of us have been around using Macs that long, and this is the first case of "confusion" I've heard of.

Folks usually learn about ⌘ on day 1 and then never question it again.
⌘ is used (*mostly*) to run commands... we call it the "command" key.

End of story. [GEDT not required.]

I have seen threads expressing interest to learn more about its origin...
More on the History of Apple's Command Key

But (as far as online talk since the early/mid 90's), no confusion.

HONESTLY.
I do wonder how anyone can read this thread and claim there's no confusion regarding the command/apple/open-apple key. And this is merely from the Mac power users! Imagine how the average Joe Mac user feels about it. If you're looking for online confusion, there's no need to search using Google... just read this thread!

I know that when talking about the use of this key to other Mac users, I always have to spell it out very clearly what I mean.
     
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Feb 3, 2008, 08:04 PM
 
Over the years I'v heard it called Open Apple, Splat, Apple Key, and the Command Key. On my white MacBook the splat symbol is there and the word command is written on the key. The Apple no longer appears on it. So for a novice with a white MacBook, it would be the command key.
     
Chuckit
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Feb 3, 2008, 08:33 PM
 
I thought "splat" referred to the asterisk.
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Art Vandelay
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Feb 3, 2008, 09:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
I thought "splat" referred to the asterisk.
It does.
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himself
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Feb 7, 2008, 03:02 PM
 
Another obscure pair of key symbols that pop up from time-to-time: ⇞, and ⇟, or Page Up and Page Down. They're an up or down arrow (respectively) with an equal sign through the middle, if the characters don't show up...
( Last edited by himself; Feb 7, 2008 at 03:39 PM. )
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JKT
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Feb 7, 2008, 05:20 PM
 
Home and End; Page Up and Page Down symbols are all that is present on my UK keyboard - no text label at all. Fwiw.

Also, the Enter, Return, Backspace, Tab, Shift and Caps Lock keys have no text labels and only symbols. Personally, if it is going to be one or the other, I prefer the use of symbols over text so I dislike US keyboards whenever I have to use one.
     
mpancha
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Feb 8, 2008, 12:33 PM
 
Personally I wish they'd kept the Apple and dropped the "command" image on the key. It gives it the "apple" feel.

Re: the symbols in the menu for alt/option/ctrl... I agree with those that say it should also be printed on the keys. I rarely have to look up a keyboard shortcut, but when I do, its been so long since the last time I looked up a command that I've forgotten what character goes with what key.
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Feb 11, 2008, 08:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by hart View Post
OK, here's my vague description:

it's a horizontal window that occurs across the middle of the screen while fading out other open windows. I believe it lists open applications and you can cycle through them to pick the one you want. Some key combo brings it up and the only way I see it is when a cat sits on my keyboard just right. Random pushing of buttons can't seem to replicate it.

I can't find it in System prefs, it doesn't seem to be related to Expose and whatever it's called I can't locate in Help by trying to look at lists of key combos or any creative combination of search words.

What the heck is it?

Thanks!


You obviously have not been a long-time Windows user.

I would have never guessed what you described. I was thinking QuickSilver, which also fits your description, but it didn't make sense that you would forget an app that you had to have installed.

-t
     
   
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