On Expose, Flip3D, and Switcher

I'm one of the rare people who actually likes Windows Vista. Sure, it's far from what was originally promised in terms of features, but it's still a solid quality of life improvement from the crusty old 2001 version of Windows XP. Or at least it will be, once Service Pack 1 is released.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2007/09/on-expos-flip3d-and-switcher.html

For XP, I’d have to recommend Yodm3D.Take a look:


How can I possibly be advertising free software? I’m missing something
here. Bao does suggest that you can donate to UNICEF or Doctors Without
Borders if you like.

My apologies. I should have double-checked, but I could have sworn last time I clicked on a link to Switcher from your blog it was shareware. I must have gotten my wires crossed. I take back my criticism.

I will, however, still take issue with your choice of wording here.

“It’s exactly what I described in The Problem With Tabbed Interfaces:”

No, actually it’s not /exactly/ what you described, because:

“The only thing I can think of is a plain-text search facility where
I type “Gmail”, and the OS would automatically highlight that tab (or
window) and bring it to the front.”

Again, unless Gmail was the tab that happened to be in the foreground in your browser, this is completely moot. And, if Gmail were the foreground tab, you would be able to visually identify it anyway.

I know I’m just being pedantic, but your enthusiasm seemed misplaced to me since it really didn’t solve the problem you were describing in the “problem with tabs” post – being able to find that hidden Gmail tab.

Baby steps, indeed, but let’s be consistent. As Odbasta mentioned, suddenly being able to search by window title is “good enough”, when it wasn’t before?

Wow, I’m cranky today.

ahem love your blog, keep up the good work, yadda x 3.

Hi Jeff. For those who are nervous:
unsolicited pseudo-advertising
There is a relatively new product called Enso Launcher at humanized.com which lets you hold the caps-lock key and issue commands. One command is GO whatever which is an incremental search for windows AND tabs such as firefox tabs. It works well and is cheap and sounds like what you are looking for. I have no affiliation with the Enso product other than that I saw it and installed the 30 day test-drive.
/unsolicited pseudo-advertising

I remember the first time I saw Vista. I noticed the Flip 3D button was placed in the quick launch area. Can you imagine what it takes to be put there? Only show desktop, Internet Explorer and Outlook Express used to be there. And now this little feature which otherwise would not be noticed (alt-tab is difficult to discover) is getying all this exposure, not just in the Quick Launch area, but in the commercials as well. I remember thinking at that moment: “So, that’s what Vista is all about… I think I’ll pass for now…”. It’s really quite ridiculous.

For Windows XP try ReflexVision, IMO the best Expose clone.

Hey Now Jeff,
I currently prefer to use alt+tab not win+tab since the vin+tab takes a split second to load. I’m excited to try the switcher app you mentioned.
Coding Horror Fan,


I thought I should mention that I sometimes use a mouse-less windowing system called RatPoison (get it?) on my Fedora linux box - it let’s me name windows and type portions of the names to select them. I believe it’s been around for a long time, though I’d have to do some wikipedia-ing to be sure.


For all those commenting that Microsoft should hire Bao … kinda ironic.


thank you thank you thank you. This post finally got me off of my ass to remove flip3d and I’m loving Switcher. I bought 10 copies! :wink:

On my current keyboard, the Windows + Tab combo is extremely awkward. I can’t do it without hurting myself. :wink:

Just found a cool minimalist Alt-Tab replacement called SmartTab that gives a list of windows with full window titles and you can jump to each via number or letter key:


Heh, I bet Bao just had a large influx of traffic to his site. The numbers on that would be interesting… :slight_smile:

In the screenshot of Switcher is looks like you’re running as Administrator. Say it ain’t so!

When you come to think of, does a regular user ever have more than 20 windows open? Maybe on average 5? (Just using my personal experience from non-technical friends/family here)

For them, Flip3D is “cool” and they might use it, after all, for 3-4 windows, it’s usable.

I’m happy with plain AltTab and my task bar on the bottom of every screen (Thanks Ultramon :p)

That’s awesome!

I am working on a window manager application that will, hopefully, make working with windows even faster and easier than with the taskbar or even the Switcher for windows. But so far, it’s not as pretty as this. Kudos to Bao!


I’m not very familiar with Windows programming so I don’t know if it’s possible so I’m just going to ask it here.

Is it possible to access the list of open tabs in Firefox/IE/any multitab app in order to make them searchable by Switcher?

Finally decided to ditch Flip3d for Switcher, very pleased. David Cumps has a point though, the average user usually doesn’t have as many windows open but I find find it very hard to locate windows when I am busy with a project (10+ windows open). They are spread out across my 2 screens and with Flip3d I can’t tell the difference between them properly.

Wow, that’s actually a nice improvement. Sounds like once again the community it stepping up where Microsoft dropped the ball. I agree, Flip3D was cute the first time, but Expose wins the game.

This Switcher app seems like a very nice solution for Vista users. Does it work with XP by chance? :slight_smile:

I believe that’s the first time I’ve been linked to from Coding Horror. Sweet!

This is one of the few blogs where I actually read every article…

Is there anything similar to Switcher that works on XP?