I’ve been using Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) for a week or two as my main desktop environment, and I’m really liking the Dock for icons and such. For the last 20 years, I’ve wanted a window manager that combined the quick-launch buttons with the running program icons. I’ve finally gotten my wish. But after using it a while, I think there are some rough edges.
Here’s my version of an overview of the Mac OS X Dock:
Icons are used to represent several kinds of objects. On the left side of the dock are objects that represent applications. On the right side of the dock are several distinct kinds of objects. 1) The trash can, 2) folders, 3) iconified windows
Application objects represent shortcuts for starting an app, if it’s not already running. If the app is already running, there’s a small visual indicator next to the icon, and clicking it brings up one of it’s windows (the main one, the last you had focus in? I’m not sure). But the application’s windows also show up on the right hand side of the dock. When you click on a folder icon, you get a very nice pop-out menu with icons for each object inside, very convenient! When you click on the icon for a running app, AND that app has more than one window, you should get a pop-out menu letting you choose which window you want to select. It seems like a no-brainer to me, it just makes the interface more consistent. And the dock would also quit jumping around so much and jiggling left and right as you open and close windows.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Snow Leopard, the next version of OS X.