LiteSwitch X 1.52
By Steve Manke

Love it or hate it, OS X’s dock is here to stay. While it is a great place to keep applications that you need quick access to, its overall functionality fulfills only a fraction of its true potential. For example, hitting Apple+Tab allows you to quickly switch from one open application to the next. This saves having to use the Dock every time we need to switch applications, but the implementation is clumsy. Since the Dock can contain both closed and open applications, it makes it difficult to quickly tab from one application to the next when inactive icons are separating the active. The shortcut would be far more intuitive if, every time you typed Apple+Tab, you would see only the active applications.

Proteron Software has realized that potential and picks up where the Dock leaves off. It does not replace the Dock, but it does disable its Apple+Tab feature in favor of its own routines, which are far more robust. After installing LiteSwitch you have to option to set the hotkeys that you prefer when switching between applications. I chose to use the same keys that the Dock did by default (Apple+Tab). In doing this, the Docks default behavior was deactivated and LiteSwitch now takes over the responsibility.

Now, when I type Apple+Tab, a small transparent window pops up on my screen showing me an icon representation of each application I have running. Using the key combination I can toggle through the open apps to quickly and easily arrive at the app I need to use. As soon as I let go of the hotkeys, OS X instantly places the designated application in the foreground.

The true power of LiteSwitch lies in its added features. For example, if I pass up the application I need to select as I am tabbing through the list, I have a couple of options. If, while still holding the Apple key down, I release the Tab key and instead hit the shift key, I will move backward through the list of applications. If that is not efficient enough, I can simply click on the icon of the application in the small floating window with the mouse. That will instantly bring the designated application to the front as well.

The Preference Pane for LiteSwitch shows some very powerful shortcuts that add to the usefulness of the product. If you Apple+Tab to an application that you intend to quit, simply hit the Q key and continue tabbing. The application will quit without intervention providing you do not need to save your work. Alternately, you can also hide applications as you move past them. If you right-click on the icon, you will see a list of menu options that you can perform on the application.

LiteSwitch adds features that should be part of the OS X Dock. Proteron has brought a style and grace to the Dock that was simply lacking. LiteSwitch is shareware. You can download a 30-day trial. Registering the software will cost you $14.95. To the power user, I believe this is money well spent. Until Apple ads each of these features to OS X, this is one system modification I simply can’t work without.

To download the 30-day demo, click here.