Rockin' the Keyboard: Cycle Through Application Windows in a Space

This may be old news to many, but today I happened on it by accident and, since it solves one of my major issues with Spaces – or at least with how I want to use Spaces, I thought it might help someone else.

The other day I wrote about how to make Spaces suck (just a little) less. I’ve been using the configuration described for 3 or 4 days now and so far it does, in fact, suck less. A nice win, but…

After a couple of days, a new gripe began to percolate. It turns out that Cmd+Tab‘ing is a lot less effective under this configuration. By way of an example, several of my Spaces include an open iTerm window and damn near all of my Spaces contain an open Firefox window. If I’m working in Eclipse in Space 2 and want to access my Firefox window in the same Space to test what I’ve just done, it’s no longer as easy as simply Cmd+Tab‘ing to get there. Actually, that’s not true. I can Cmd+Tab to the Firefox application, but only the application is activated – not a given window. Since there are Firefox windows opened in this desktop and in others, OS X has no way of knowing which one of those, if any, I really want to access. It would be nice if it would default to the one in the current Space (if one and only one exists), but…yeah, it doesn’t.

To mitigate my annoyance a bit, I started using Expose. Using the example above, I’d hit F9 and then click the Firefox window I wanted to work in. That works well enough, but it forces me to move my hand to the mouse and that slows me down (especially since I perform that particular action frequently). Today, though, I found (read: blindly stumbled onto) a better way. If I hit F9 (or F10, it seems) and then hit Tab, OS X will cycle through all of the applications on that desktop. Once the application I need is illuminated, I can hit Return and the most recently used window of that application assumes the focus. All windows of the selected application appear to assume a higher level of focus than those of other apps, but only the most recent actually becomes active, of course. It’s not quite as convenient as Cmd+Tab, maybe, but it’s not far from it. And anything that keeps my fingers on the keyboard is a good thing.

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