The "Gumdrop" Buttons on OS X El Capitan Windows - dummies

The “Gumdrop” Buttons on OS X El Capitan Windows

By Bob LeVitus

Take a gander at the top of an OS X El Capitan window — any window. You see three buttons in the top-left corner and the name of the window in the top center. The three buttons (called “gumdrop buttons” by some folks because they look like, well, gumdrops) are officially known as Close, Minimize, and Zoom.

Their colors (red, yellow, and green, respectively, unless you’ve switched to the Graphite appearance in the General System Preference pane) pop off the screen. Here’s what these buttons do:

  • Close (red): Click this button to close the window.

  • Minimize (yellow): Click this button to minimize the window. Clicking Minimize appears to close the window, but instead of making it disappear, Minimize adds an icon for the window to the right side of the Dock.

    To view the window again, click the Dock icon for the window that you minimized. If the window happens to be a QuickTime movie, the movie audio continues to play and a tiny still image from the video appears as its icon in the Dock.

  • Zoom (green): Click a window’s green Zoom button, and the window expands to cover the whole screen, including the menu bar.

    If you prefer the old behavior, where a window zoomed to the largest size it could but didn’t cover the full screen, hold down the Option key when you click the green button.

    To shrink the window back to its previous dimensions, slide the cursor up to the very top of the screen, wait for the menu bar to appear, and then click the green Zoom button.

    Another way to shrink a full-screen window, at least in the Finder, is to press the Esc key on your keyboard. Sadly, this trick doesn’t work with many apps, though it’s quite useful in the Finder.

    If you prefer the old behavior, where a window zoomed to a larger size but didn’t cover the full screen, hold down the Option key when you click the green button.

    El Capitan introduces a new feature called Split View to the green gumdrop button. To see Split View in action, press the green button for a moment (that is, perform the first half of a click). Half the screen turns light blue. Without releasing the mouse button, drag to the left or right; the blue tint moves to the left or right side of the screen. Release the mouse button and the window fills the blue half of the screen. The other half of the screen displays miniature versions of all open windows. Hover the cursor over a miniature window to see its name; click a miniature window and it fills that half of the screen.

    To work in Split View, click either window to activate it and do what you have to do. To activate the other window, click it. To exit Split View, do one of the following:

    • Press Esc.

    • Move the pointer to the top of the screen; when the buttons (for both windows) reappear, click any button.

    • Quit either application.