Group minimized windows in Witch

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One of my favorite third-party add-ons is ManyTricks’ Witch, a program that lets you switch between active windows—much like Command-Tab switches between open applications, with Witch installed, I can select any open window by pressing Option-Tab. This is a great timesaver, as I typically don’t want to just switch to an application, but a given window within that application. (We’ve covered Witch here a couple of times in the past—as a promising prospect back in 2005, and then a brief write-up in a Best of Mac Gems article.)

In the latest version of Witch, a new feature lets you specify a window border for minimized windows—I set mine to yellow, which makes them stand out from the other windows in Witch’s interface. This lets me see at a glance—much like I can with the Dock—exactly which windows have been minimized.

By default, minimized windows will be shown interspersed with normal windows, as seen in the screenshot at left (click the image for a larger version). While this works reasonably well, when I’ve minimized a window, it’s usually because I don’t want to actually do anything with it right now. Much like the Dock does, I’d like to keep the minimized windows segregated from my “normal” windows. In Witch 2.0.2, you can do just that with a Terminal command.

First you need to quit Witch, so open its System Preferences panel, and uncheck the Enable Witch checkbox. Then quit System Preferences, open Terminal, copy and paste this command, then press Return:

defaults write ~/Library/Application\ Support/Witch/Settings "Separate Minimized Windows" -bool true

Note that it must be entered as shown; you cannot use quotes around the path instead of the backslash, or it will not work. Now open the Witch System Preferences panel again and enable Witch. There’s one last thing to do before you can see your minimized windows grouped together. On the Behavior tab, set the Sort Windows By pop-up to Window Activity Order. This is the only sort order in which you’ll see the minimized windows grouped together.

Once you’ve made that change, activate Witch via Option-Tab, and check out your now grouped together minimzed windows, as seen in the image at left (click the image for a larger version). With Witch set up in this manner, I find it makes a perfect replacement for both the Dock and the Command-Tab application switcher.

If you ever want to undo this setting, quit Witch as described above, then copy and paste the same command into Terminal, but replace true with false. Relaunch Witch, and your minimized windows will again be interspersed with the others.

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