I’ve been playing around with macOS Sonoma, Apple’s latest operating system update for Macs and MacBooks, and one of the more subtle changes included in the update may prove to have the biggest impact on how I use my MacBook – making it similar to Windows 11.
Now, the idea that Apple could learn anything from Microsoft’s operating system could be considered blasphemy in some quarters, but the truth is that while macOS Sonoma certainly does a lot of things better than Windows 11, the opposite is also true. Sorry, but there are things I prefer in Windows – and the management of open windows is one of them.
You see, I’m a rather unorganized man, so after a few hours of working on a PC or Mac, my screen is awash with apps, browsers, programs, and other random windows. It can get a bit overwhelming – especially when I’m trying to find something on my desktop.
In the past, on a Mac I would have to hold down the Option key, and then click on an empty space on the desktop, which would then minimize everything on the desktop except for the top window that I was using. A useful shortcut, but not the easiest.
Over on the Windows side of things, however, there was a much easier method. Introduced way back with Windows 7 (which many people feel was the pinnacle of Windows releases), ‘Aero Shake’ didn’t just prove that Microsoft is awful at naming things, it introduced a quick way of minimizing every app or window apart from the window I am working in. All I had to do was click and hold the top of the window I wanted to keep open, then shake it from side to side. It was a fast and intuitive way to declutter my desktop, and I didn’t have to use my keyboard.
Keeping your options open
However, as Apple Insider reports, Apple has brought in a new feature that simplifies this process and makes it just as easy – if not easier – than Windows 11’s way of doing things.
Basically, you no longer have to hold down the Option key along with clicking on an empty space on the desktop to minimize all background apps and windows – instead, you can just click on the desktop and all apps apart from the one you’re using will disappear. Clicking the desktop again will open them all back up.
This is much faster and more accessible than the previous way of doing things, and while it might not be the biggest change included in macOS Sonoma, it’ll likely have a big impact on the way I work. It might not be to everyone’s tastes, of course, and there will be people who are used to the Option-click method – which has been around for decades.
The first time I noticed this new feature was when I accidentally hit the desktop rather than a folder I meant to open. The sudden disappearance of all my windows was a surprise, and at first I wasn’t sure what I did. But, once I figured out how to use it, and what was happening, I quickly adapted to the new way of working.
In some ways, macOS Sonoma’s way of hiding background windows is easier to use than Windows 11’s method – as I sometimes find Windows doesn’t quite pick up when I am shaking an app, leaving everything open.
On the other hand, you still need to find the desktop to click on it in macOS Sonoma – which is often a problem when you have loads of apps open. Part of the reason for using this feature is because you can’t see your desktop, so having to close or move a few windows to click the desktop to hide everything you’re not working on can still be a bit of a chore.
Still, as a user of both Windows 11 and macOS Sonoma, I am always glad when good ideas from one operating system make their way to the other OS – long may it continue.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.