Mac users like to play the superiority card when it comes to Windows, sniggering behind the backs of people 'dumb' enough to use Microsoft's operating system, perhaps going so far as to point fingers and yell something about photocopiers in Redmond.

But drink some reality juice and it's clear that Cupertino isn't the only place where innovation happens – often enough, Microsoft has some pretty good ideas of its own.

The taskbar introduced with Windows 95 was one such feature, providing a centralised switcher/launcher long before the Mac OS X Dock arrived. Windows 7 also has plenty of interesting interface ideas, largely centred around its taskbar and window management.

We don't see Apple warming up its photocopier, but enterprising indie developer Christian Baumgart has taken on the task. His HyperDock add-on enables you to bring a bunch of Windows 7 features to the Mac, and, despite what you might think, they may well improve your productivity.

One of the best features in Windows 7 is Aero Snap, which enables you to drag a window to a screen edge to resize it to full- or half-screen, without having to manually line things up. HyperDock includes the same feature, and it works with the majority of Mac apps.

Another feature of Windows 7 is the ability to hover over a taskbar icon to preview an app's windows. On the Mac, Dock Exposé does much the same thing, but HyperDock's implementation is useful if you're not enamoured with Dock Exposé, and also if you'd like a few extra features.

Below, we show you how to use these and other features; for more details about HyperDock, visit http://hyperdock.bahoom.de.

How to: Bring Aero Snap to your Mac

1. Snap to split-screen

After installing HyperDock, launch Safariand open two windows. Drag one to the left screen edge; when the semi-transparent box appears, release the mouse button and the window will resize to fill the left half of the screen. Drag the other window to the right.

Bring aero snap to your mac

2. Full-screen windows

Split-screen is great for comparing two windows, but sometimes you'll have a single document you want to fill the screen. Mac OS X lacks an actual 'full-screen' button, but with HyperDock you can just drag a window to the top screen edge and it'll fill the entire screen.

Bring aero snap to your mac

3. Move windows easily

Open System Preferences and select HyperDock. Select the Window Management tab. Under Window Dragging, you'll see modifiers for moving and resizing windows. Move your cursor over a window, hold Crtrl+Option and then move the cursor for window control.

Bring aero snap to your mac

4. View Dock previews

HyperDock's Dock previews are less of a 'jolt' when activated than Dock Exposé. Hover the mouse cursor over a Dock icon and you'll see the app's windows. Minimised windows show a '–' symbol. Hover over a preview to view it at full size; hover over one and click '×' to close.

Bring aero snap to your mac

5. iCal and iTunes previews

iTunes and iCalby default provide information-based previews. Hold your cursor over iCal's icon to see upcoming events. Hold your cursor over theiTunes icon to see the currently playing track; hover over the artwork to access controls and clickable rating stars.

Bring aero snap to your mac

6. Preview behaviour

Back in HyperDock's preferences, click the General tab. Here, you can disable the iCal and iTunes previews and also amend preview behaviour. Next, click Appearance. Experiment with the settings to change the size and appearance of the preview bubbles.

Bring aero snap to your mac

7. View Dock shortcuts

Still in preferences, click Shortcuts. On the left, select Any Dock Icon. On the right are actions and events. As per the events shown, hold Option and click Safari in the Dock. Dock Exposé will be invoked. Hit Escape then hold Command and click Safari's Dock icon – a new window opens.

Bring aero snap to your mac

8. Edit Dock shortcuts

To edit an existing Dock shortcut, click the up/down arrow icon at the right of the event, select Other Button/Keys and define a new shortcut. You can also use the '+' icons to add new apps to the left-hand pane or new action/event pairs to the right-hand pane.

Bring aero snap to your mac

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First published in MacFormat issue 229

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