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LiteSwitch X - A freeware application switcher Reviews
I noticed on a few of the product release websites that Proteron today released a freeware program called LiteSwitch X. This simple program replaces (or adds on to) the alt-tab application switching behavior of OS X. As I was a huge fan of Proteron's Action GoMenus in OS 9, I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did, as it's a very useful utility.

Read the rest of the article for a mini-review covering LiteSwitch X and its key features...

LiteSwitch X has one mission - to improve the application switching behavior of OS X. Installation is simple; download the program (which requires completing a simple web form) and run the installer. You can install LiteSwitch for either all users or just the currently active user; it installs as a Preference Pane.

Once installed (no restart required), open the System Prefs app and select LiteSwitch X and enable it. After LiteSwitch X is enabled, pressing alt-tab places a semi-transparent grey box containing all running apps in the center of your screen. This window can be both moved and (by pulling on the tab at the bottom center) resized, making it very easy to find a size and position that suits your needs.

You can set a limited number of options in the LiteSwitch X prefs pane - what are the hot keys to activate it, and how should windows be layered when switching applications. Rather than trying to explain the window layering options in my own words, here's how Proteron explains the choices:
  • Normal OS X mode makes no change to how OS X handles window layering.
  • Classic Finder Windows makes it so that all of the Finder windows come forward together, but all other programs act normally. This brings back the ability to click on the Desktop and have all your Finder windows pop to the front.
  • Classic Window Mode makes it so that when a program comes to the front, all of its windows come to the front, just like they did under every other Mac OS before OS X.
  • Single Application Mode hides all other apps every time you switch apps. This makes it always feel like you're only using a single application.
I use Classic Finder Window mode with alt-tab as the trigger keys. By overriding the Apple default switch keys, my dock stays hidden while switching apps. Just like the dock, you can press "H" or "Q" to hide or quit an app while alt-tabbing amongst them. But unlike the dock, you can also press "S" to show the app, "F" (twice) to force quit the app, and "O" to show only the selected app.

There are also contextual menu items with additional options that pop-up when you control-click on an icon in the switcher window, and you can drag-and-drop items onto the switcher window!

Most useful of all, however, is the fact that LiteSwitch X restores the default OS 9 application switching behavior. If you switch between (for example) GoLive and Mozilla, then those two apps are at the front of the list, making it easy to flip back and forth between them. OS X always insists on paging through the apps in the order in which they appear in the dock.

So if you're unhappy with some element of application switching in OS X, try LiteSwitch X. In less than a day, it's become an integral feature of my system on all three of our Macs ... and you can't beat the price (free!).
  • Currently 2.67 / 5
  You rated: 2 / 5 (3 votes cast)

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The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Authored by: mervTormel on Jun 28, '02 01:43:30AM

yep. it's a beauty. can't beat it with a brick bat.

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Authored by: mattscape on Jun 28, '02 03:16:58AM
i switched to mac os x half a year ago.

and switching fast back and forward between two apps was one of my main concerns, while looking for good utilities.

this tools does it fast and nice. just they way i like small utilties

and great way to show off: just hit cmd-tab and resize the transparent window ;-)

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Exclusion lists and switching single or all windows
Authored by: sjonke on Jun 28, '02 11:14:41AM

I wish I could make it so that LaunchBar and some other things did not show up in LiteSwitch. You can do this in Keyboard Maestro and other such programs. Actually, I like having both Keyboard Maestro and LiteSwitch installed at the same time. I have LiteSwitch as command-tab and keyboard maestro's switcher as option-tab. LS I have set to only bring the top window of an app forward, which is usually what I want to do, but if I want all the apps' windows to come forward I use Keyboard Maestro's switcher instead. Of course I'd rather there was some simple way in LiteSwitch to decide on the fly which behavior I wanted....

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Link to LiteswitchX
Authored by: powervette on Jun 28, '02 01:23:02PM
Here is the link to the file:

And about Launch Bar, you can easily make LaunchBar a background app so it doesn't show in the Dock or LiteSwitchX or other "Task" bars. Just select the "Help" and its under "Tips & Tricks". It works great, all functions are still available.

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Real Deal
Authored by: mdaniel on Jun 29, '02 02:28:34AM

Why this functionality isn't already built into the OS is beyond me. Any modern window manager should allow the user to swap among open applications with a simple key combination (usually alt-tab). This program enables this and more bringing OS X closer to the high standard of keyboard navigation set forth by Windows. Even a mouse junkie would find this app indispensable after a few times of use.

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If you have Launchbar, you can use it for this
Authored by: jason mark on Jun 01, '03 09:07:40AM

Honestly if it weren't for Launchbar I would have gone back to OS9. The doc and finder are so frusterating, and in general the UI of OSX is so much more cumbersome than OS9 that it just makes me want to cry.

BUT Launchbar is one of those apps that makes me wonder how ANYONE used computers without it.

The Keys are customizable, so different people may have their settings differently, but on my machine if you hit command-tab you get normal launchbar (invaluable), and if you hit command-tab twice you go into application switching mode. The application switch works as it should (last used applications first). I also dragged my launchbar window from the top right corner to center screen, right where I need/want it.

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LiteSwitch X - A freeware application switcher
Authored by: luomat on Sep 12, '05 12:20:06PM

Note: This program is no longer freeware. It's $15USD

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