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October 2003

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LSwitch 2.7 - A New Face on an Old Friend

By Don Eitner © October 2003

One of my favorite eComStation desktop enhancers is a small utility known as LSwitch, which replaces the default <ALT-TAB> window switching of eComSation and OS/2. It provides some great features, such as the ability to view all open windows' icons and scroll through them (with the knowledge of how soon you are going to reach the one you want) or you can point and click them with the mouse. In version 2.6, an XWorkPlace XCenter "widget" was added to create a powerful task bar for all running programs. Both the taskbar and the <ALT-TAB> window had the ability to filter out windows you didn't want to see (such as programs running in the background which you don't need to be able to switch to).

Version 2.7 (currently in public beta testing) enhances the XCenter widget with some incredible new features! But be sure you are running beta 2, as beta 1 had some lockup problems when closing XCenter or shutting down your computer. Beta 2, so far, seems to have resolved these issues, but the real magic is in the new features.

For example, one of my favorite aspects of BeOS 4.5 (circa 1998, years before Microsoft "invented" this technique in Windows XP) was that all open windows of the same program were grouped together on the task bar to save space. If, for example, you had three Opera web browser windows open, the taskbar only showed one. Clicking on this displayed a popup menu of all three window titles so you could select the one you wanted to go to. Well, LSwitch 2.7 has this same functionality, too. In the screenshot below, you can see 3 GTIRC windows open as a single taskbar tab with a popup menu allowing me to select among them. This is an optional feature in LSwitch 2.7, but it is enabled by default. If you prefer the old fashioned style of showing every open window as its own tab on the taskbar, then right click anywhere on the widget and select LSwitcher Widget->Properties, or hold <CTRL-ALT-S> to open LSwitch's settings notebook.

There is another new setting in version 2.7 -- "3D look", which is in the Taskbar properties page. With this you can select a new-styled 3D appearance for taskbar tabs or the old style flat buttons which look more like XCenter's own buttons and widgets.

Suppose you don't like the <ALT-TAB> key combination. That's alright, LSwitch will let you select <CTL-TAB> or <WIN-TAB> (that's the MS Windows key found on almost all PC keyboards). But be aware that <WIN-TAB> is not currently enabled for full screen sessions (see below).

Version 2.7 also includes all the features which made earlier versions so wonderful. Right clicking a window's icon in the taskbar, or the <ALT-TAB> popup window, allows you to quickly filter that window's title from being displayed in the future; to switch to that window; to close, restore or minimize that window; or to change its process priority on-the-fly! There is also support for <ALT-TAB> window switching from OS/2 and DOS full screen sessions, though this shows window titles only and no icons. It can be very useful if you operate in multiple full screen sessions and wish to change between them without going to the desktop.

LSwitch is freeware; but the author, Andrei Los, deserves at least your words of appreciation for the great work he has done.

LSwitch 2.7 can be downloaded from:

Don Eitner is a long time contributor to the VOICE Newsletter as well as the maintainer of The 13th Floor website Don has also developed several useful utilites like WordWrap, DECalc, HTMLtoPDF and others. For more see his eComStation and OS/2 Apps page

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