It’s rare for Apple to reorganize the way people work on the Mac, but that’s exactly what the company is trying to do with the stage manager at macOS Ventura. At first glance, this is just a quick visual way to exchange between your last used applications. But after the first Ventura public beta test last week, I think it might also fix the window management issues that have plagued Macs since OS X launched 21 years ago. Or, perhaps, I’ve always hated Apple Doc.
In addition to being the stage manager, Ventura also has several upgrades that should make life a bit easier for Apple users. Mail receives the biggest edits, but there is also good collaboration with Safari tab groups, except for the much-needed B-features in messages. At the very least, it’s a much broader update than that.
Stage Manager: Feeling Mac Madness
During my nearly two decades of using Mac – as a college student, IT supporter and technical journalist – I have never found OS X Doc so useful. Sure, when it was first released, it was a much bigger visual upgrade than the simple taskbars on Windows and Linux. (I remember that the dock icon could actually show a running video.) But by itself, the dock is a confounder of shortcuts and run application indicators, somewhat criticized.
If you want to find a specific Safari window, for example, you have to press Control, click on the Dock icon and then select it from the drop down. In comparison, the worst Windows XP allowed me to zero in on specific apps (and their sub-windows) with one click in the taskbar. Perhaps unaware of its usability, Apple introduced Exposé in 2003 as an easy way to see everything you run at once. Since then, I’ve used religiously hot corners on every Mac I’ve used to create specific Exposé functions (one corner shows everything that’s open, the other just shows me Windows for my current app, so While another brings me to the desktop). Who needs a messy dock when you can get a God-given view of your entire system?
Fast forward to almost twenty years, and we have Stage Manager, another on-screen tool for coding between your apps. But while this may just seem like an extra screen mess, its main function is to help you focus. In fact Turn off your screen. When you select the latest application from Stage Manager, it centers that application on your screen and gives you more windows. Then hit the app shortcut, and you’ll cycle through the open windows.