Get Old Exposé Back on the Mac with OS X Mountain Lion

Jul 30, 2012 - 10 Comments

See ungrouped application windows with Expose in OS X Mountain Lion

With OS X Lion, Exposé merged with Spaces and became Mission Control, as a result the behavior of one of many peoples favorite window management features changed; you could no longer see all windows from all apps in a single screen. Instead, app windows were grouped by application and stacked atop one another. That incredibly useful old Expose feature of seeing all windows is back in OS X Mountain Lion though, and you just have to enable it to see everything from a single screen again:

  1. Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu
  2. Click on “Mission Control”
  3. Uncheck the box next to “Group windows by application”
  4. Do a three-fingered swipe up (or hit F9) to see the traditional Expose-style window manager

Turn off grouped windows in OS X Mountain Lion for Expose instead of Mission Control

With Mountain Lion, you can also continue to perform the app-specific Expose style window view by hovering over the apps Dock icon and performing a three-fingered downward swipe.

Mission Control is very powerful, check out 9 great tips for Mission Control or view our archives on the topic for more.


Related articles:

Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. sinkingputts says:

    Is there anyway to set a shortcut to do either old expose or mountain lion expose? I think both have a place and would like to keep both available if needed quickly.

  2. Gil Barros says:

    This brings back the Spaces functionality:

    I was _very_upset_ when Apple took it away, and am very glad that TotalSpaces brings it back. So, to say “thank you” I’m spreading the word.

    Great software, works as expected, worth the $12.

  3. Sweetspert says:

    Totally agree Mark. What’s funny is that I tried to stop caring about how great Spaces was in SL, and just move on. So then this article is published and it teases me with hope, only to not only think what Mark is saying, but to also scratch my head and wonder exactly… what the heck is actually happening after I un-check said box to enable the old Exposé style back, since I see absolutely ZERO change/difference?

    I only ever do clean installs, so my system (2009 MBP ) is actually working well in general. Mountain Lion is the first OS thus far, which is making me regret upgrading. It is quirky, buggy and offers little improvement over Lion, which was very stable for me. While tighter cloud integration is nice and all, I don’t really care all that much, since there are a ton of other cloud solutions out there, and quite frankly, I’m just not as lazy as the rest of the demographic that iCloud is marketed to. I don’t mind a bit of dragging and dropping.


  4. Mark says:

    Does the new version allow the following things?

    1) Can I grab a minimized window from one minimized space and move it directly to another?
    2) Can I invoke Exposé within a minimized space and cause all the minimized windows to separate from one another?
    3) Can I name the Spaces with any names I like?

    If I can’t do these things, then the new system is still inferior to Snow Leopard.

  5. sault says:

    Nice tip !

  6. Tim says:

    Rob is correct about the lack of window names. I still prefer the old method, even with that loss. But I wonder why we can’t get something in between the old and the new. The older method shows me everything at once; nothing is hidden. But there’s no disernable logic to what windows appear where. I have a Finder window here, a Safari window there. Can’t we have something where all Finder windows (for instance) are still grouped together, just not stacked on top of each other?

  7. Rob says:

    Good but not a 100% fix.
    In SL, each window’s name is clearly displayed; no longer.
    With the number of windows I keep open, reading the text inside similar-looking windows is not possible.

  8. Rico says:

    Hmm… this kinda makes me want to upgrade. But SL still have some better features. To upgrade or downgrade, that is the question.

  9. vdiv says:

    So we paid $29.99 to have the feature taken away and another $19.99 to have it back?!

  10. Roger says:

    Hallelujah this is wonderful news! ML is a great upgrade and these little fixes make it even better.

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