Getting Started with Mac OS X Lion: Full Screen Apps

August 18, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Newcomers to the Mac OS X Lion operating system who have prior experience with iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad will notice considerable similarities with the mobile device user interface when it comes to performing specific tasks, such as launching an app or switching between two currently running pieces of software.

Lion offers users the ability to switch between apps using a simple swipe gesture, as well as being able to resize the apps into full screen mode (although this doesn’t work with all apps).

What this means is that the once modestly-sized Mail and iCal can now be quickly maximized into full-screen mode thanks to a small button in the corner of the window, and once in full screen mode the app will sit to the right the side of your desktop, where you can then switch between your open apps in full screen mode!

Get Started with Mac OS X Lion: Full Screen Apps

Maximizing Windows

Typically an application window in Mac OS X will sit somewhere in the middle of the desktop, but thanks to this new full screen feature you can quickly increase the size of the app to fill the screen, an action that moves it to a right-justified position on your desktop.

This is made possible by a new window icon, a double-headed arrow found in the top-right corner of every app. When you have the app in full screen mode, you will notice how it pushes the desktop background to one side, positioning itself alongside what we usually recognize as the desktop rather than sitting on it.

Any subsequent apps that you launch can be maximized into full screen mode in the same way, allowing you to then switch between apps using a simple three-fingered swiping action on your trackpad.

While this new approach might take some getting used to, it certainly works well in presenting the maximum amount of desktop space to users, and you can even move files and folders from the desktop to a full-screen app.

Switching Between Multiple Apps

When new apps are launched, you will find them taking up space to the right of the desktop, potentially leaving you with a series of slightly “stacked” application windows.

As well as switching between the apps using the new three fingered gesture, you can also reorder them using Mission Control. We’ve already presented this new tool in detail, but basically you can use a upwards gesture with your three fingers to display a brand new, holistic view of the desktop, from which point it should be a simple matter to sort out which apps are remaining open, which apps you wish to close and which apps are going to be dropped onto one of the extended desktop areas.

Exiting this view is achieved by swiping three fingers upwards on the trackpad.

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