Mac OS X: Using Command-Tab to Bring Back Minimized Windows

If you’re savvy enough to be a TMO reader, you’re probably familiar with using the Command-Tab keyboard shortcut to switch between running applications. And if you’re a savvy TMO writer, you’ll stroke your readers’ ego at the start of your articles. After doing that, though, you’d probably discuss what you were going to be giving a tip on. Well, today we’ll be going over using Command-Tab to de-minimize windows for maximum application happiness. Wanna know more? Not sure what the heck I’m talking about? Want me to compliment you again? Then read on. 

So if you use Command-Tab all of the time, you’re used to its wonderfulness. Hold down Command and keep tapping Tab to choose which program you want from the Application Switcher, and release Command to select the highlighted option.

If you tap and release Command-Tab quickly, you can toggle back and forth between the last two programs you used. And while you’re holding Command, you can even tap the Q key to quit the highlighted program or the H key to hide it, lickety-split. 

My favorite modifier, though, is Option. If you’re a person who uses the yellow “stoplight” button to minimize windows in your computing life, this will be an awesome addition to your Mac arsenal if you didn’t already know about it.

“Your Mac arsenal”? Gah, I’m losing my touch.

So let’s say you’ve minimized iCal’s window. In Snow Leopard, that would mean that it shoots down onto the right side of your Dock; in Lion, it’ll get swallowed up into iCal’s application icon. If you then use Command-Tab to switch to iCal, its window won’t be automatically brought back up. Until now, that is. Hit Command-Tab to bring up the Application Switcher, tap Tab until you reach iCal’s icon, add then add the Option key to the Command key you’re already holding and release. Looky here—iCal’s window de-minimizes itself without any further interaction from you, just by adding on Option before you let the Command key go.

The only downside is that this trick won’t bring back all minimized windows if you have more than one. If you have Mail’s Message Viewer and a couple of draft e-mails minimized, for example, using this will only bring back the Message Viewer. You’ll still have to use the menus or the program’s Dock icon to access your other windows if you’ve got them. 

So that’s it. I’m done. You all know my secrets, on this at least. Which means I have to kill—wait a minute. I promised I’d give you more of an ego boost, didn’t I? You all are such smart, funny people, and I’m now virtually hugging each one of you. Except for that one guy over there. Dude, stop grinning at us all like that.