Exploring Mac OS X Lion and Its Mission Control Feature

The feature known as Mission Control is a sophisticated blend of three earlier Mac OS X innovations: Spaces, Exposé, and Dashboard. In Mac OS X Lion, these features are unified into a single, streamlined interface known as Mission Control, providing a comprehensive view of all open applications and documents, along with distinct virtual desktops.

How to Access Mission Control

To utilize Mission Control, you first need to open it. Lion provides multiple ways to do this. A common method for many is using a multi-touch gesture.

For those without a multi-touch capable device, such as a trackpad or Apple’s Magic Trackpad, there are still numerous options available, including keyboard shortcuts. Let’s explore the gestures first.

Trackpad users can activate Mission Control by swiping upwards with three fingers, a gesture that can be adjusted to four fingers in the system settings. Alternatively, Magic Mouse users can double-tap the mouse’s surface to access Mission Control.

For those without a multi-touch device, alternatives include:

  • Dragging the Mission Control app to the Dock for easy access
  • Setting up a hot corner to trigger Mission Control
  • Using the Dashboard key on an Apple keyboard

These are just a few of the methods available. Later, I will delve into the Mission Control preferences pane, which offers even more customization options.

Appearance and Functionality of Mission Control

Mission Control effectively integrates the functionalities of Dashboard, Spaces, and Exposé into one interface.

At the top of the Mission Control screen, you’ll see a horizontal array of thumbnails for your virtual desktops, starting with the Dashboard and the current desktop, followed by any additional desktops you’ve created.

Below these thumbnails lies the Exposé view, showing all open applications and documents grouped by application, each group marked with its respective icon.

Desktops and Spaces in Action

Initially, you are provided with two desktops: the Dashboard and your current desktop. Here are the typical actions you might perform within this setup:

  1. Adding new desktops
  2. Navigating between desktops
  3. Moving applications across desktops
  4. Directly jumping to a desktop
  5. Removing unnecessary desktops

Adding a new desktop can be done by moving your cursor to the upper right corner of the Mission Control screen and clicking the “+” that appears. Alternatively, you can drag an application window to this corner to create a new desktop specifically for that application.

Desktop Navigation and Management

To switch between desktops, you can click on a desktop thumbnail, use keyboard shortcuts, or employ multi-finger swipes on a trackpad or Magic Mouse. To move applications between desktops, simply drag the desired application’s window from one desktop thumbnail to another in Mission Control.

To close a desktop, hover over its thumbnail until an “X” appears, then click it.

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Laurie

Barbara is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing readers the latest insights and updates on all things Apple. With a keen eye for detail and a love for technology, Barbara covers everything from the newest iPhone releases to the latest macOS updates. Her articles are known for their clarity and depth, making complex topics accessible to all. When she’s not writing, Barbara enjoys exploring new features on her Apple Watch and testing out the latest iPad apps.