Sunday, June 14, 2009

Switching between windows with a directional mouse-gesture (or a map)

Here’s an idea for how a computer operating system could enable you to quickly switch between windows. The idea is that you could press a some key or key combination to indicate you wanted to switch windows, and then you could specify which window simply by shifting the mouse pointer from its current position just a little bit in the direction of the window you wanted to switch to.

The operating system would guess which window you wanted to switch to and make it flash or something. If it had the one you wanted, you could press the mouse key and that window would get the focus. I think the system would have to figure out which window was, overall, most in the direction you've gestured.

If it didn't select the one you wanted, you’d move the mouse again to try to make it clearer which window you wanted. How would this work? Imagine that you’d moved the mouse to the right to indicate a window to the right, but you the one you actually wanted was further to the right of the one the system guessed.

To indicate that other one, you could just move the mouse a bit more to the right and it’d figure out you meant the window more to the right. Whatever the subtleties an actual implementation would have to deal with, I think there’s a good chance you could figure out a workable solution.

(On windows, instead of simply pressing a key, you could press and hold down the Windows Key and move the mouse pointer and then release the key once it has seleted the one you want).

As different approach, instead of gesturing direction, pressing the ‘switch windows’ could bring up, at the place where the mouse pointer was, a small schematic map of the desktop indicating all of the windows’ locations. Mousing over a window on that map would highlight the actual window it corresponds to; clicking it would switch to that window.

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