To minimize a window means to hide it. You will find yourself using a window's amber coloured Minimize button when the desktop screen becomes cluttered with windows and when you cannot see a certain window because it is either, partially, hidden/covered by another window (as shown in Fig 1.1) or it has been minimized already.
Fig 1.0 The desktop filling up with windows
In Fig 1.0 I have begun by opening the PICTURES folder, followed by the Microsoft Excel 2011 application and then the Safari web browser application. The order in which you open a window (i.e. an application or folder) is important in terms of its position - The first window opened (i.e. the PICTURES folder) starts off as the frontmost window but as soon as another window is opened (i.e. the Microsoft Excel 2011 application), in front of it, that previously opened window (i.e. the PICTURES folder) then gets moved back one placement and could end up as the backmost window. In the above example the PICTURES folder was opened first so its window is the backmost window. Likewise, the Safari web browser application was opened last so its window is the frontmost window.
To go back and forth from one window to the next you have two options. The first option is to click on any blank part of a window (i.e. inside its Display Area), but preferably on its Title Bar (Fig 1.1 below), to make that window the front (top) most window. When ever a new window is opened, or an existing one is clicked on, it becomes the frontmost window. Hence why the Safari window above, which was opened last, became the frontmost window.
Fig 1.1 Click on a window's Title Bar to make it the front (top) most window
If I click on the PICTURES window (folder) the order will now be as follows: Microsoft Excel 2011 at the back, Safari in the middle and PICTURES at the front. This is
because each window would of rotated by one position. Original positions - PICTURES window (back), EXCEL window (middle) and Safari window (front). New positions - EXCEL
window (back), Safari window (middle) and PICTURES window (front). If all the windows are of the same size and in the same position (overlapping each other) this option
cannot be performed, as you would not be able to click on any window that is behind the frontmost window.
The second option is to minimize all the other windows that are obstructing the window you want to use. So to get to the PICTURES window (folder) you would click on the minimize button of the Safari window and then click on the minimize button of the Microsoft Excel 2011 window. However, this option is not ideal if you have more than five windows open simply because you would be spending all your time minimizing the other windows.
Fig 1.2 Click on a window's Minimize button to minimize that window
Another option, which is not really about minimizing a window or bringing a window to the front, is the SHOW DESKTOP option (as found in Windows 10). It clears the desktop screen of all windows on it, allowing you to then Maximize the window you do want to use; or even open a new window (application). In OS X (Sierra) the SHOW DESKTOP option can be used by pressing the F11 keyboard key, but only if it is set up to do so. In this next example I will show you how to set up the SHOW DESKTOP option whereby you can activate it by either pressing the F11 keyboard key or use a corner of your desktop screen.
With the F11 keyboard key option you have to take into consideration that you may be using a laptop keyboard or standard keyboard whereby you need use of its F Keys (Function Keys) in order for the computer to function properly. The Function + F2 keyboard key for example is sometimes needed to turn WiFi Off/On. Some F Keys are needed to Play, Rewind and Fast Forward audio/video or control the Volume.
Assuming you don't need access to your F Keys; You first need to make sure your F Keys act as standard F Keys and not Special F Keys by making sure the USE ALL F1, F2, ETC KEYS AS STANDARD FUNCTIONS KEYS preference (setting) is ticked in the KEYBOARD System Preference (control panel).
Fig 1.3 Make sure the USE ALL F1, F2, ETC KEYS AS STANDARD FUNCTIONS KEYS preference (setting) is ticked
With the USE ALL F1, F2, ETC KEYS AS STANDARD FUNCTIONS KEYS preference (setting) ticked the next step is to make sure the F11 keyboard key is assigned to (associated with) the SHOW DESKTOP function. Open (Launch) the MISSION CONTROL System Preference (control panel) and then make sure F11 is the selected option next to the SHOW DESKTOP preference (setting). If it is not, simply click on the SHOW DESKTOP drop-down menu and select F11.
Fig 1.4 Make sure F11 is the selected option next to the SHOW DESKTOP drop-down menu
At this point; If you press the F11 keyboard key all the windows on the desktop screen will disappear. They will be parked on the edges of the desktop screen, denoted by grey edges, and only reappear when you either open a new or existing application or window or click on one of the grey edges of the desktop screen. Only these actions will make all of the windows originally on the desktop screen reappear.
Fig 1.5 Click on one of the grey edges of the desktop screen to bring back all of the original windows
If you now want to make one the of the corners of your desktop screen clear the desktop of all windows (SHOW DESKTOP) when you move the mouse pointer into that corner, stay on the MISSION CONTROL System Preference (control panel) window and click on the button called HOT CORNERS. Doing so will then bring up the Active Screen Corners window (Fig 1.7 below) whereby you then need to make sure one of its corners has the DESKTOP option assigned to it (Fig 1.8) before clicking on its OK button (Fig 1.9).
Fig 1.6 Click on the button called HOT CORNERS to continue
Fig 1.7 Make sure one of the corners has the DESKTOP option selected
Fig 1.8 Click on the OK button to assign your chosen screen corner the SHOW DESKTOP function
In the above example I have assigned the SHOW DESKTOP function to the bottom-right corner of the desktop screen, so when I move the mouse pointer into that bottom-right corner all the windows currently on the desktop screen will disappear into the edges of the desktop screen.
Now that the above methods/options of clearing the desktop screen of all windows and the clicking of the MINIMIZE button to minimize a particular window have been explained/exampled that just leaves me to explain what actually happens to an application or folder when you click on its MINIMIZE button.
When you click on a folder's or application's amber coloured MINIMIZE button, located on top-left corner of its window (Fig 1.2 above), it will normally place the window in a minimized (thumbnail / preview icon) state on the right-hand-side of The Dock; and more precisely on the right-hand-side of the DOWNLOADS Stack but also on the left-side of the TRASHCAN (Fig 1.10). In Fig 1.9 below there are no windows minimized - It is a standard dock. In Fig 1.10 though I have minimized the Safari web browser window. By hovering the mouse pointer over its minimized window (thumbnail / preview icon) you can tell what website or web page it was, and still is, viewing. In this example the Google website. And you will know that the window belongs to the Safari web browser application because of the mini Safari logo parked on the bottom-right corner of the thumbnail (preview icon).
If you look closely at the dock you will notice it has a dividing line, called a Separator, on it that divides the Applications on the left-side of it from the DOCUMENTS Stack and DOWNLOADS Stack on the right-side of it. A DOWNLOADS Stack is just a term used to mean "Downloaded Files That Are Stacked On Top Of One Another" and a DOCUMENTS Stack means "Document Files That Are Stacked On Top Of One Another". In reality it means whenever you click on the DOWNLOADS Stack icon or DOCUMENTS Stack icon a list of downloaded files or document files will appear as if those listed items were stacked up. Stacks are explained in a later section of this website.
Fig 1.9 The Dock - Applications are on the left-side of the dividing line and Stacks are on the right-side
Fig 1.10 Hover the mouse pointer over a minimized window icon to see what app/folder it belongs to
As you keep minimizing windows, each window's thumbnail (preview icon) is placed to the right of the previously minimized window's thumbnail (preview icon). So in this next example I have minimized the Safari application window first, the Mail application (e-mail application) window second and the PICTURES folder (window) third.
Fig 1.11 The Safari and Mail apps and the PICTURES folder (window) have had their windows minimized
In the case of a folder, which is displayed and utilized via the FINDER application, it will only have the FINDER (Smiley Face) icon placed on the bottom-right corner of its thumbnail (preview icon). It will not have a Photo icon placed on it for example just because it is the PICTURES folder. This is why the hovering of the mouse pointer over a folder thumbnail (preview icon) is so important - It lets you know what folder you have minimized in cases where you may of forgotten and more importantly allows you to know the position (location) of a minimized folder among other minimized folders (Fig 1.13).
Fig 1.12 The FINDER icon at the bottom-right corner of a minimized window's icon is not always helpful
Fig 1.13 Where is the minimized PICTURES folder among the four other minimized folders?!!
It is scenarios like those just mentioned above why some people find their dock becoming too long, full of minimized windows together with the standard docked application icons; especially when they have to scroll through 30 minimized windows just to find the one they want. An alternative option is available though.
If you don't like the idea of many, individually, minimized application and folder windows sitting on the dock you can make their windows minimize into the application's docked icon instead. So instead of an application's window being minimized on the right-side of the dock you can have it so that it disappears (hides) behind the application's actual docked icon. To do this you need to open the DOCK System Preference (control panel) and make sure the setting called MINIMIZE WINDOWS INTO APPLICATION ICON is ticked.
Fig 1.14 Make sure the setting called MINIMIZE WINDOWS INTO APPLICATION ICON is ticked
Now when you click on an application's or folder's amber coloured MINIMIZE button its window will disappear behind its docked application icon. So a folder's window will hide behind the docked FINDER application icon whereas the Safari web browser application's window will hide behind the docked Safari application icon. Once hidden their window titles can be previewed by right clicking on their respective docked application icons.
Fig 1.15 Right click on the docked FINDER application icon to see what folders have been minimized, if any.
In the next section I will teach you how to Maximize A Window and how to make a window full size (screen size) among other things.