It’s rare for Apple to change the way people work on Macs, but that’s exactly what the company is trying to do with Stage Manager in macOS Ventura. At first glance, it’s just a quick visual way to switch between your recently used apps. But after testing the first Ventura public beta last week, I think it might also solve the window management problems that have plagued Macs since OS X debuted 21 years ago. Or, maybe I’ve always hated the Apple Dock.
In addition to the Stage Manager, Ventura also has many improvements that will make life a little easier for Apple users. Mail is getting the biggest overhaul, but there’s better integration with Safari’s Tab Groups, as well as some much-needed features in Messages. At the very least, it’s a broader update .
Stage Manager: Understanding Mac Madness
In nearly two decades of Mac use—as a college student, IT support worker, and tech journalist—I’ve never found OS X’s Dock to be very useful. It was certainly a huge visual improvement over the simple taskbars on Windows and Linux when it was first released. (I remember being amazed that the Dock icon could display a running video.) But by itself, the Dock is a confusing mix of shortcuts and running program indicators. also criticized.
If you want to find a particular Safari window, for example, you can control-click the Dock icon, and then select it from the drop-down list. By comparison, the uglier Windows XP lets me reset specific programs (and their subwindows) with a single click on the taskbar. Perhaps aware of this quirk of usage, Apple introduced Exposé in 2003 as an easy way to see everything you’re working on at once. Since then, I’ve religiously set hot corners on every Mac I use to launch specific Exposé features (one corner shows everything open, another shows me windows only for my current application, and another brings me straight to the desktop). Who needs a confusing Dock when you can see your entire system with God’s eyes?
Fast forward almost two decades and we have Stage Manager, another on-screen tool for switching between your programs. But while it might just seem like extra screen clutter, its main function is to help you focus actually cleans your screen. When you select the latest app from the Stage Manager, it centers that app on your screen and eliminates other windows. Click the application shortcut again and you’ll cycle through open windows.