Tip: Hide or unhide applications to remove clutter

FinderIconXIf you regularly use your Mac for multiple tasks, you might have a number of applications, application windows, and documents open at the same time. These may include browser windows, preference windows for open applications, and perhaps iTunes, iPhoto, and multiple Terminal sessions, among many others. In all, with multiple documents open in multiple programs, you can easily have 20 to 50 windows packed into your Mac’s screen.

If you find this to be a bit of a clutter, then you can either change your habits and close more windows, or quit programs and use Apple’s Resume features to open them back where you left off; however, depending on the program being used this may take a few moments to do. You can also try reorganizing your workflow to use multiple desktops and monitors so windows are spread out; however, this may not be the solution for everyone.

Another option available to you is to use OS X’s hiding feature for applications, which will keep the program running but simply hide its windows from view, and not only those taking up screen real estate, but also those you have minimized in the Dock.

There are several options available for hiding applications in OS X:

  1. Dock menus

    Right click the application’s Dock icon, and choose the option to Hide or Show it, depending on its current hidden status.

  2. Application switching

    When you switch applications in OS X, you can hide the previous one that was in focus by holding the Option key when switching. This can be done when clicking another application in the Dock, clicking any of its application windows.
  3. Hotkeys

    A final option that OS X supports are two hotkey combinations for hiding and showing applications. If you press Command-H in any application, then this should toggle its current hidden or visible status. In addition you can hold the Option key when doing this to hide all applications except for the current one. Unfortunately using this second hotkey again will not allow you to reveal all of the hidden applications; however, you can go to the Application menu (the one to the immediate right of the Apple menu) and choose “Show All” from there.

Note that in all cases you will have to have at least one application shown, so if you have hidden all except one program, then that program cannot be hidden.

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3 thoughts on “Tip: Hide or unhide applications to remove clutter

  1. Strod

    Ooooh, I have a really cool and useful hint that complements today’s application-hiding tip!

    To make the Dock icons of the hidden apps translucent, type this in the Terminal:
    defaults write com.apple.dock show hidden -bool true

    and restart the Dock, for example by typing this:
    killall Dock
    or by logging out and back in.

    The Dock will relaunch automatically and from then on the icons of hidden apps will become semi-trasnparent while hidden.

    Cool AND useful, since you can tell at a glance which apps are hidden.

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