There is no doubt in my mind that Switcher is the best Exposé clone ever made for Windows, and only Vista users get to bask in the features that this free program has to offer. Switcher 2 Beta has just raised the bar several notches by adding features Apple’s own Exposé doesn’t even have!
Among many other things the new Switcher has tremendously improved the smoothness of its animation. You’ll see this in the video demonstration below, but first lets take a look at some of the great new features.
–Custom Window Labels and Backgrounds–
You can now have labels on windows as well as customized backgrounds and borders. You would probably think that the labels only tell you what the title of the app is, but you can put multiple things in the label. My personal favorite is having it show the number of megabytes the particular program is using, but you can also have it display the program’s icon, the filename of the application, or the process name.
Now the first 9 windows in Switcher are assigned numbers. This makes it a lot easier to move between windows without having to shuffle through them one-by-one.
One of my favorite features in Switcher has always been the customizable shortcut keys though. That’s also been taken up a notch by adding several new commands that can be assigned shortcuts, including "Begin and Select Next." That command behaves similarly to the standard Windows Alt-Tab where upon activation the last-accessed window is selected. I love this option so much that I’ve gone ahead and assigned it to be the default action. A more Alt-Tab like appearance can also be seen by using the new Grid View, which aligns all of the windows to a grid in number order. I’m sure the Alt-Tab fans out there will choose this to be their default preference.
Another shortcut action that was added was the ability to close a window straight from Switcher. I set it up so that anytime I right-click on one of the thumbnails in Switcher it closes that particular window.
The live filtering gives you the capabilities to only show certain sets of windows at any given time. For example, you can have all minimized windows be hidden or you can only show windows from a certain program (like Windows Explorer). Here are the various options for filtering along with their default shortcut keys:
- Search by window title (default shortcut Ctrl+F, or simply type to automatically display the search box). You can search using regular expressions (an obscure feature that I keep forgetting about).
- Exclude minimized windows (default shortcut Ctrl+M).
- Hide a particular window (default shortcut Ctrl+H).
- Show only the windows belonging to a certain program (default shortcut Ctrl+W).
- The default shortcut to remove all filters is Ctrl+R.
After trying out the search feature I couldn’t stop myself from creating a video to show off this cool feature:
I honestly can’t believe how much Switcher has evolved since I first started using it, and it’s quickly become something that I recommend to anyone using Vista. Of course, if you’ve never used Alt-Tab before then you’ll probably never think to use this, but I’ve quickly found this to be a valuable tool in my daily work.