After seeing the Mac Expose feature at the Apple store on the 30″ Widescreen LCD, I fell in love. Not only does it look incredibly freakin’ cool, but also because it’s a great way to manage all my windows on my desktop in an intuitive way.
For those that aren’t familiar with Mac Expose, it’s a feature on Mac OSX that allows you to:
“Instantly access any open window with a single keystroke — and stunning style that can never be imitated. Display all open windows as thumbnails, view windows of the current application or hide all windows to quickly locate a file on your desktop.“
The feature in particular I love is the display of all open windows as thumbnails. I had to have this feature on XP!
I tried 5 different programs and ultimately found one that seems to fit the picture!
- Entbloess: This app was crazy buggy, and even crashed on me multiple times. Needless to say I uninstall this one as quick as I could.
- Exposer for Windows: This had an approximately 2.5 second delay between keypress and the animation, which doesn’t sound like much, but since I’m installing this for productivity purposes, 2.5 seconds is WAY too long. To top it off, the thumbnail animation was laughable.
- Winplosion: Animation is better than Exposer for Windows, but was still slow.
- Top Desk: More configurable options than the others including ability to have the Flip 3D Windows Vista feature on XP. Window tiling took WAY too long. This delay was the worst yet.
- Admiral: This one was the winner of my tests. Delay is sub-2 seconds on my Sony Vaio VGN-SZ381p (Intel Core Duo2 T7400 with 2GB RAM) and animation was smooth as butter. You can even specify Window titles that should be excluded from thumbnail view. I currently have my hot keys setup to be CTRL+Q as well as the upper left corner of my screen. So if I’m typing, I can activate the thumbnails easily and if I’m on my mouse, I need to just mouse my pointer to top left. Sweet!
- New: Omar just sent me an email pointing out that the new version of Microsoft Intellipoint has an Expose like feature called “Instant Viewer”. Once installed, pressing the middle mouse button activates “Instant Viewer”. Wow, talk about a disappointment. While it doesn’t have the bugs that Admiral has (see below), the feature set is basically anemic. It shows all your windows as equal size thumbnails on the screen and when you hover over each, they don’t enlarge nor do they show you the window title like Admiral does. This won’t be that much of a problem if you don’t have many windows open, but if you’re like me with over 12 windows open at any given time, Instant Viewer just won’t cut it. See Keith Combs’ blog for screenshot and details.
Here’s a screenshot of the Windows thumbnails/miniaturization in Admiral (#5 above). Notice my mouse pointer is hovered over Windows Live Writer as I author this blog post:
In my 1/2 day usage of Admiral so far, I noticed 2 bugs and have 4 requests:
- When you unlock your computer, Admiral is activated showing all your app Windows tiled. To top it off, all the window thumbnails are black. While this is annoying, it’s easily overcome by using the mouse to click on a space between any of the thumbnails. Alternatively you can press <enter>.
- When no windows are visible and you activate Miniaturization, you get an error dialog that says “Could not start SmallWindows”.
- Every time you show thumbnails, you get a “splash screen” that says “Miniaturization”. Minor, but annoying.
- While the delay is sub-2 seconds, I would like to get this faster. I’m running 2GB of RAM and a crazy fast CPU, com’on!
- Enable the <ESC> key to dismiss the thumbnail/miniaturization view. <Enter> currently does this, but <ESC> is more intuitive.
- For the “”Quick Open” feature, I’d like to be able to assign CTRL+Space bar as my hotkey.
I wish I could give you a link on Windows Marketplace to download this, but alas, we aren’t selling this specific title 🙂
PS — I confirmed that Admiral also works on Windows Vista. Just tried it on my co-worker’s Vista machine.