How to Work with Windows in OS X Mavericks - dummies

How to Work with Windows in OS X Mavericks

By Bob LeVitus

Let’s take a closer look at windows themselves: how you move them, size them, and use them. And although OS X Mavericks windows are similar to windows you’ve used in other versions of Mac OS (and even, Windows), you may just discover a new wrinkle or two.

How to open and close windows in OS X Mavericks

To start peering into windows on your Mac, first you need to know how to open and close them. When you’re working in the Finder, you can choose the following commands from the File menu.

You’ll use many of these commands frequently, so it would behoove you to memorize the keyboard shortcuts.

  • New Finder Window (Command+N): Opens a new Finder window. In other programs, Command+N might open a new document, project, or whatever that program helps you create.

  • Open (Command+O): Opens the selected item, be it an icon, a window, or a folder.

  • Close Window (Command+W): Closes the active window. If no windows are open or if no window is selected, the Close Window command is grayed out and can’t be chosen. Or if you prefer, you can close a window by clicking the red Close button in the top-left corner.

How to resize windows and window panes in OS X Mavericks

If you want to see more (or less) of what’s in a window, just hover the pointer over any edge or corner and drag. When the cursor turns into a little double-headed arrow click and drag to resize the window.


Display windows frequently contain multiple panes. The line divides the blue Sidebar to left and the actual contents of the window to the right. When your mouse pointer hovers over the resizing area of this bar, the cursor changes to a vertical bar (or it could be horizontal if the panes are one above the other) with little arrows pointing out of both sides, as shown in the margin.


When you see this cursor, you can click and drag anywhere in the dividing line that separates the Sidebar from the rest of the window. Doing so resizes the two panes relative to each other; one gets larger and one gets smaller.

How to move windows in OS X Mavericks

To move a window, click anywhere in a window’s title bar (or anywhere in the gray part of a display window, except on a button, menu, search field, or scroll bar) and drag the window to wherever you want it. The window moves wherever you move the mouse, stopping dead in its tracks when you release the mouse button.

How to shuffle windows in OS X Mavericks

The commands on the Window menu provide tools you can use to manage your windows. Here is a brief look at each of the items on the Window menu:

  • Minimize (Command+M): Use this command to minimize the active Finder window to the Dock and unclutter your Desktop. It’s the same as clicking the yellow gumdrop button.

  • Zoom: This command does the same thing as the green gumdrop button.

  • Cycle Through Windows (Command+`): Each time you choose this command or use the keyboard shortcut for it, a different window becomes active.

    So if you have three windows — call ’em Window 1, Window 2, and Window 3 — and you’re using Window 1, this command deactivates Window 1 and activates Window 2. If you choose it again, the command deactivates Window 2 and activates Window 3. Choose it one more time, and it deactivates Window 3 and reactivates Window 1.

The next four commands in the Windows menu help you manage Mavericks’ new Finder window Tabs. If you’re a fan of tabbed browsing (à la Safari), you’ll love tabs even more in a Finder window.

The modern Mavericks way of doing things lets you view multiple folders and disks in a single window, with each folder or disk in its own tab.


Tabbed windows are an ingenious way to cram a lot of information into a little space.

  • Show Previous Tab (Ctrl+Shift+Tab): Each time you choose this command or use the keyboard shortcut for it, the previous tab — the one to its left, unless it’s the leftmost tab — becomes active.

  • For example, Documents is the active tab. Use this command, and Applications becomes the active tab. Use it a third time, and Downloads becomes active. Because Downloads is the leftmost tab, if you use this command yet again, it wraps around and Documents becomes the active tab again.

  • Show Next Tab (Ctrl+Tab): Same as above except in reverse. Instead of showing the previous tab (the one to the left), this command shows the next tab (the one to the right). Use this command three times in a row, and you see the Downloads, then the Applications, and finally the Documents tabs again.

  • Move Tab to New Window: Does just what it says: Moves the active tab into a new window of its own.

  • Merge All Windows: Combines all open windows and tabs in one window.

    You can click a tab and drag it left or right to change the order. You can also drag and drop a tab from one Finder window to another. The trick is to drag it right onto the tabs in the target window. If you drop it anywhere else, the tab will be displayed in a new window.

  • Bring All to Front: In OS X Mavericks, windows from different applications interleave. For example, you can have (from front to back) a Finder window, a Microsoft Word window, an Adobe Photoshop window, another Microsoft Word window, and another Finder window.

  • In this example, choosing Bring All to Front while the Finder is the active application enables you to have both of the Finder windows move in front of those belonging to Word and Photoshop.

  • Other items: The remaining items on the Window menu are the names of all currently open Finder windows. Click a window’s name to bring it to the front.