macOS Ventura preview: Stage Manager is the star of the show

It’s rare for Apple to transform the way people work on Macs, but that’s exactly what the company is trying to do with Stage Manager in macOS Ventura. At first glance, it’s just a quick visual way to switch between your recently used applications. But after testing Ventura’s first public beta last week, I think it can also solve window management problems that have plagued Macs since OS X debuted 21 years ago. Or maybe I’ve just always hated Apple’s dock.

Besides Stage Manager, Ventura also offers many upgrades that should make life a little easier for Apple users. Mail gets the biggest overhaul, but there’s also better collaboration with Safari’s tab groups, as well as much-needed features in Messages. At least it’s a far more extensive update than .

macOS Ventura


Stage Manager: Understand the Mac madness

In my nearly two decades of using Macs — as a college student, IT support worker, and tech journalist — I’ve never found OS X’s dock very useful. Sure, when it was first released it was a huge visual upgrade over the simplified taskbars in Windows and Linux. (I remember wondering about the fact that a dock icon can show a running video.) But on its own, the dock is a confusing mishmash of shortcuts and running application indicators, which has also been criticized.

For example, if you want to find a specific Safari window, you need to press Ctrl, click the Dock icon, and then select it from the drop-down list. By comparison, the far uglier Windows XP let me target specific apps (and their sub-windows) with a single click on the taskbar. Perhaps aware of this usability quirk, Apple introduced Exposé in 2003 as an easy way to see everything you’re running at once. Since then, on every Mac I’ve used, I’ve religiously assigned Hot Corners to trigger specific Exposé functions (one corner shows everything that’s open, another shows me windows just for my current app, while another opens me directly brings the desktop). Who needs a confusing dock when you can get a bird’s-eye view of your entire system?

Fast forward almost twenty years and we have Stage Manager, another on-screen tool for switching between your apps. But while it might just seem like extra clutter on the screen, its main function is to help you focus actually declutter your screen. When you select a recent app from Stage Manager, that app will be centered on your screen and other windows will disappear. Press the app shortcut again and you’ll cycle through the open windows. macOS Ventura preview: Stage Manager is the star of the show

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