For a while now I’ve been using Apple’s Spaces to keep myself organized while I work. Typically I have one space I’m working in and one space with all of my communication tools (Adium, Skype, Linkinus, Echofon). I need to keep those tools on for client communication, asking questions and some break from the isolation of working at home solo but I don’t really need to see them when I’m switching between applications with ⌘ – Tab. When I’m switching apps while building a site these extra items just get in the way and break focus.
For a while I’ve looked for an application that would hide the open applications in another space and have come up with nothing. Recently I found Switché which I think is possibly one step better.
What is Switché
The biggest thing that sold me on Switché was the fact that if you have an application hidden you can make sure it doesn’t show up in your ⌘-Tab application switching. This is better than hiding applications in other spaces because even in my main working space I’ve got applications I don’t really need to see but need to be running. Stuff like MAMP, Yojimbo and even at times OmniFocus are simply a desktop distraction and need to be moved out of my focus.
Switché is the ⌘-Tab replacement for OS X and allows multiple configurations in addition to the ability to hide icons of hidden applications. You can customize the keyboard shortcuts for switching between applications (traditionally ⌘-Tab) or switching between application windows.
Switché lets you not only remove hidden applications from ⌘-Tab but also lets you pick minimized windows, applications with no open windows and any windows that are hidden in an application.
Since Switché only really has something to show when we’re using it and it’s hard to take screenshots while using other keyboard commands we’ve got a quick screencast to show exactly how Switché works.
A Few Dislikes
The biggest complaint I have about Switché is that the view of ⌘-Tab is kind of ugly. I’m not sure why they did their own view. Maybe they have to program the visual view entirely so they did their own thing, but it just isn’t that nice. The regular view provided by OS X is much cleaner and fits in with the overall design of OS X better than what Switché provides. It’s a pretty minor issue I know but that’s the one thing I would change. Heck even if they’d let me reduce the opacity of the surrounding window that would be a step in the right direction.
My second and last complaint is the default key mapping. By default Switché works more like control-tab on Windows, switching you between all open windows of an application. Ultimately it’s just not what OS X does and threw me for a loop the first time. It’s not hard to change the default key mappings back to something that feels right for OS X but it would be nice if Switché had it set like that out of the box.
So do I give this application a thumbs up or down? I say go get Switché right now if you’re looking to get more focussed on the items you actually need to focus on and not on the little items that don’t matter on your machine. At $7.99 I bet Switché will keep you focussed enough in the first week that you’ll recoup the cost.
Update August 8 2011
I’m still on Snow Leopard but have turned off Switché as it just started crashing all the time. I miss the features it added to ⌘T but when it crashes and freezes Finder and I’ve got to restart my machine it’s just no usable.