In its day, the concept of overlapping windows on the screen was brilliant, innovative, and extremely effective. (Apple borrowed this idea from a research lab called Xerox PARC.) In that era before digital cameras, MP3 files, and the Web, managing your windows was easy this way; after all, you had only about three of them.
These days, however, managing all the open windows in all the open programs can be like herding cats. Off you go, burrowing through the microscopic pop-up menus of your taskbar buttons (Windows) or the Dock (Mac OS X 10.5), trying to find the window you want. And heaven help you if you need to duck back to the desktop—to find a newly downloaded file, for example, or eject a disk. You'll have to fight your way through 50,000 other windows on your way to the bottom of the "deck."
Exposé represents the first fresh look at this problem in decades. The concept is delicious: With the press of the F9 key, Mac OS X shrinks all windows in all programs to a size that fits on the screen (Figure 5-4), like index cards on a bulletin board. You click the one you want, and you're there. It's fast, efficient, animated, and a lot of fun.
On the superth in aluminum Apple keyboards, use the F3 key instead of F9. The painful details are in the box below.