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Snazz Up Your Desktop: Exposé for Windows

Columbia is an Apple-happy campus.  Mac OS X (pronounced “oh ess ten”, Apple’s operating system) dominates in lecture and in lab, but let us not forget those of us who have stuck with Windows.

One of Mac’s spiffier features is Exposé.  Exposé presents miniaturized versions of all your open windows at once, allowing you to click on the one you want.  If you’re like Bwog and have twenty applications open at any given time, this saves you a lot of cycling through windows searching for your thesis draft.  A video of all Exposé features in action is on Youtube (skip to 1:15 for the “show all windows” feature).

Exposé on OS X

Windows’ most similar feature is in Vista (but not XP), called Windows Flip3D (Microsoft once again displaying its naming prowess).  It doesn’t simultaneously show you all open windows, but it allows you to visually cycle through them- not a good option if you have too many open.

A quick fix, after the jump.

But be not afraid: there are free applications available, one for Vista and one for XP, that imitate Exposé’s functionality.  For Vista, a small application called My Exposé allows you to assign a hotkey (simply put, a key combination you choose) or a screen corner to launch.  It looks and feels very much like the OS X version.

 My Exposé on Vista

XP, on the other hand, has a less-sophisticated graphics engine than Vista.  In Vista and OS X, the operating system draws each open element (application windows, the desktop, dialog boxes, etc) and then layers them in presentation.  In XP, however, what you see on the screen is treated as a single image, so when you move windows around, the operating system has to constantly redraw the entire screen.

In terms of an Exposé replacement, this just means that the effect is less pretty, as it is more difficult to quickly redraw mini versions of all open windows.  Bwog recommends Exposer, which does show you all windows, but without the eye candy.  If you’re satisfied with alt-tabbing your way around in XP, try the semi-official app called Alt-Tab Replacement, which shows you screenshots of each of the windows you’re tabbing through.

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