Apps that defy green-button rules

In most OS X applications, the green “+” button at the top left of the window will resize the program’s window, usually making it as large as your screen, or large enough to fit the displayed content. But today’s tip isn’t about those apps whose green button behaves as expected. It’s not even about those programs that behave somewhat differently—Finder windows resize vertically to fill the screen, but not horizontally, for instance. Today’s hint is about two programs whose green “maximize” buttons do something entirely unexpected.

First up is iTunes, which scores not once but twice in this category. Everyone is probably familiar with the first instance: the green button in the iTunes main window toggles between the normal window and the mini-controller window (which can then be further reduced in size by dragging the lower right corner to the left). Interestingly, the behavior of the iTunes window also changes based on which size window is being used. When in mini-controller mode, you can command-click on the buttons (previous, pause, next, etc.) in the controller’s interface without activating iTunes. When using the full-size window, however, Command-clicking simply activates iTunes, and you then have to click the button you wish to use, then return to whatever app you were previously using.

While you may have been aware of the main iTunes window toggling, did you know you get the same sort of thing with the Equalizer window (Window -> Equalizer)? Click the Equalizer’s green button, and it flips between the full “frequency sliders” view and a smaller window that only lets you pick pre-defined equalizer settings from a pop-up menu (and turn the equalizer on or off).

The second non-standard application is Calculator, which uses the green button to flip between its three modes, which are also available in the View menu, or by using the Command-1, Command-2, and Command-3 keyboard shortcuts.

There are probably other apps out there with non-conforming green button behavior; if you know of any, feel free to list them in the comments thread accompanying this post.

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