Scroll Wheel Application Selection in OS X

Tuesday, January 31 2006

I’m trying to force myself to stop using the OS X Dock again in favor of using Quicksilver to switch apps. I was doing pretty good for a while but fell back into bad habits, even when I removed everything from my dock and made it as small as possible (actual size shown) or hid it.

Miniscule Dock

Today while hitting command-tab a lot, I thought it’d be really cool to use my middle mouse button to trigger command-tab, then use the scroll wheel to select the application I wanted to switch to. Unfortunately nothing in OS X lets you do this kind of mapping. After nearly giving up, I saw something in my Logitech Control Center. It was able to select “Switch Application” as the assigned action for the scroll wheel. I was about as elated as I could be over this (which, on a scale of elation from 1 to 10, I hit about a 2.3) until I actually used it.

Logitech Control Center

I think my concept is sound and quite intuitive, but the way Logitech makes it work produces awkward results. Scrolling the mouse wheel brings up the open applications overlay, just like command-tab would, but then it only very quickly switches to whatever app the scroll wheel has selected. In order to really switch an app, you have to keep the wheel moving until you see where your app is and then you have to quickly select it. If Logitech simply let you adjust the amount of “idle wheel” time to be a bit longer, I think it might work really well. Ideally I’d still like to be able to click my mouse wheel, scroll to my app, then click to select it. I’ll keep my eye out for a solution.