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Context:

I am working with an older relative who has been on windows for many years. She has a difficult/poor memory when it comes to computers.

She could easily link open applications with the text and boxes at the bottom of the screen. She would minimize something it would instantly disappear she would move her cursor back to the box and reopen the window.

This box helps explain the association that she always has had.

enter image description here

We bought her a Mac. She likes many parts about it. It syncs with her iphone etc...

She can't learn the dock. I am afraid we might need to move her back to Windows. I've tried explaining to her Command+Tab and how she can switch back and forth between minimized applications, but she can't stand it. I've tried explaining her how to minimize in the corner and tried minimizing applications to icon, but no luck.

Is there an application to display a list? I'm not looking for alternative techniques for understanding. She really needs a list, not a dock.

Preferably it would work look similar to Windows Dock.

Having used applications like Quicksilver before, and knowing the ingenuity and geniuses in the Mac community it feels like someone could create something like this.

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I wonder about her trying to use Launchpad? That way, you would clean off the dock - completely - except for Finder, which you can't remove, and the Launchpad icon. Then the programs that are open will appear down in the dock. Just a thought. Obviously, you have BootCamp if all else fails as well. –  bassplayer7 Jan 27 '13 at 3:04
    
@bassplayer7 It really becomes an issue when she has more then one of the same application open. For example she will get confused when she opens 2 Word Documents. She can't understand where to click to bring up the last one. –  Liam William Jan 27 '13 at 4:12
    
How did she solve the "two Word documents" situation in Windows? If you are looking for an app to mimic the Windows Taskbar we should know in detail how she worked through the different Use Cases during the day. –  patrix Jan 27 '13 at 9:08
    
If it's just a matter of minimizing, what about going to System Preferences > Dock and un-checkmarking "Minimize windows into application icon"? That keeps every window separate. I'm still thinking out loud here. –  bassplayer7 Jan 27 '13 at 14:40
2  
@patrix Good catch. The picture doesn't represent her set up exactly. In her system, the taskbar would display Documents side by side in the taskbar. The grouping feature would be unchecked under "properties" so yes the picture is wrong. –  Liam William Jan 27 '13 at 19:41

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

DragThing is a commercial application that can display a list of running applications. It can be configured to create a Windows-like taskbar.

  1. Click the  in the topleft corner, click Dock, then click Left or Right to move the dock to left or right. (so it won't get in the way of the Windows-like taskbar you are going to create, while you can still use it as a handy app launcher.)
  2. Download DragThing (thanks to this page for telling me about it) . It costs US $29 but you can try it for free. However, if you like it you should buy it.
  3. Open the downloaded DMG file, drag the DragThing icon to the applications folder, delete the DMG file, open the applications folder (or Launchpad if you have Mountain Lion) and open DragThing.
  4. Make sure DragThing is the active application (It says "DragThing" next to the  in the topleft corner then), press ⌘+0 and close all the DragThing windows except the one that appeared when you pressed that.
  5. Right click on the window that appeared when you pressed ⌘+0 and click Rotate.
  6. Drag it to the center of the bottom of the screen.
  7. Right click again on it and click "Dock settings...".
  8. Set the following (got most of it from this page):

    Set "Float Dock Window" to Always

    Turn "Show Window Title Bar" off

    Set "Icon Size" to 16×16

    Set "Spacing" to 0

    Set "Width" to about 70

    Set "Show Item Names" to Right

    Turn "Use Single-Click To Open Items" on (can be found at Advanced tab)

    Turn "Lock position" on (can be found at Advanced tab)

  9. Close the window
  10. Enjoy your shiny new taskbar! Eventually right click it and select a new color.
Screenshot

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uBar is a Windows-style taskbar for OS X that I developed. Be sure to set Window Grouping to Never in the preferences, and it will exactly replicate the behaviour you are looking for.

uBar taskbar for Mac

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Maybe Hyperdock helps. It shows thumbnails of all open program windows when resting the mouse pointer on a dock icon. One can click on a thumbnail in order to bring the respective window to the front.

Screenshot

I cannot live without. Available from the app store.

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DragThing

Here is some more information about DragThing, in addition to com. BOY's answer.

I have owned and used this program for more than ten years. There is a free trial; the app costs US $29.

Among other features, DragThing can be configured to display a floating "Process Dock", a panel of the icons of applications that are currently open and running -- and only the ones currently running. Unlike the Dock, it does not show icons of applications that are not running right now. (You can create other panels or docks to display tabbed groups of icons of frequently-used applications that you want to launch.)

enter image description here

You can position DragThings' Process Dock on the bottom of the screen if you want; I have it in the upper-right corner of my screen. Visually, you can choose from many different color schemes and designs. I chose the "heads-up-display" translucent black design.

In the "Process Dock", clicking on one of these open application icons will immediately bring that application to the forefront. This is analogous to the bar at the bottom of the Windows desktop.

There are four kinds of panels or docks that DragThing can create:

  • Dock to show tabbed multiple panels of your favorite apps organized and grouped any way you like
  • Disk Dock to show connected hard disks, CDs and DVDs, and servers
  • Process Dock, as I have discussed above
  • Window Dock to show open application windows (your elderly relative might be able to use this too.)

DragThing is not designed to be "Windows-like". If anything, it resembles features of Mac OS 9, the "classic" MacOS. But I think it will do the trick.

DragThing has myriad configuration settings that you can customize; far too many. It's daunting. But once you figure out the features and configure it the way you want, it will just work.

I have used DragThing for more than ten years. I can't live without it.

Having configured everything I want in two DragThing panels: a Process Dock in the upper right-hand corner of my screen; and a tabbed icon panel on the bottom of my screen, I subsequently banished Apple's Dock off the screen and I virtually never use or look at Apple's Dock anymore.

Here is a review of DragThing from MacWorld Magazine from two months ago.

If you can't figure out how to configure DragThing to function like you want, you can email the developer, James Tomson, for tech support.

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