Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

August 14, 2014
View all open apps on your Mac by pressing just one key

Mission Control allows you to customize viewing of all your open windows by pressing one key, in a simple and organized thumbnail view.

To open Mission Control, select the apple in the top-left corner of your desktop, select “System Preferences” and then select “Mission Control.”

In the Mission Control box, you have several options to customize access to your different views. First though, let’s assign specific keys and then we can see what is included in each different view.

In the section, “Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts” below, you can assign a single key to show all your open windows, your current open application, your desktop and your dashboard.

Click the box next to “Mission Control” and you’ll see a list of choices. Go ahead and select “F1” for now. You can change this to suit your preferences later. Next, click the box next to “Application windows” and select “F2.” Click the box next to “Show Desktop,” select “F11”, and in the box next to “Show Dashboard,” select “F12.”

Now, in the top section, you can checkmark the box “Show Dashboard as a Space.” You can also checkmark “Automatically rearrange Spaces based on most recent use.”

After you have made these selections, go ahead and open several applications, such as iTunes, Safari, iPhoto, iMovie and any others you typically use.

We can now see the keys we have assigned in action. Press the “F1” key and you will see a thumbnail view of all your open applications. From here, you can click any of the thumbnails to go to that application full screen. If you look at the top of your screen, you’ll see “Dashboard” and “Desktop” in their own space, which you can select to view. If you push the “F1” key without selecting anything, it will go back to your previous view.

Next, if you push the “F2” key, it will show only the current open window you were viewing or working with.

Now, press the “F11” key and it will move all your open windows behind the desktop, allowing you to open any items you may have located on your desktop. To reveal your previous view, press the “F11” key again.

Press our last assigned key, “F12.” This displays the Dashboard with all your open widgets. A widget is a small app that may display the date, the weather, the time and other things you may find helpful. If you don’t have any widgets open, click the “+” symbol in the lower-left for a display of the widgets installed on your Mac. Click any of the widgets you prefer to open them and then when you push your “F12” key, it will quickly open the dashboard and display your open widgets. Push “F12” again to go back to your previous view.

You can now go back to the Mission Control box and customize the keys you prefer to use to perform these shortcut views.


For 14 years, Scott Lindsay has helped tens of thousands of people better their skills, publishing more than 250 articles about the computer and the Internet. You can reach Scott for comments or questions at

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