In OS X, modal dialogues are displayed as "sheets" that drop down from the top of the window. In many cases this is nice, but occasionally I find it really annoying. Consequently, although it's a long shot, I thought I'd ask whether anyone knows a way to either disable these modal sheets entirely, or to detach a sheet so that it becomes a proper window.

The reason I want this is that I often have many (unsaved and untitled) documents open in TextEdit and other applications, with short notes that I've made. When I shut down my computer it asks me whether I want to save each of them, but if there's only a few lines of text then the modal sheet completely covers it, so I can't see what's in the document. This means I have to cancel the dialogue, which cancels the shutdown, then go though and manually save everything.

So although it's nice to have modal dialogues attached to the window they're associated with, I'd really appreciate a way to move them out of the way to see what's underneath, if one exists.


I highly doubt you can change the appearance of sheets, even through undocumented means – that's been a core part of OS X since 10.0.

That said, I think there's a way to effectively avoid the problem you're having: in System Preferences, go to General and uncheck the box for "Ask to keep changes when closing documents".

System Preferences → General → Ask to keep changes when closing documents

Now, apps that support auto-save (like TextEdit) won't bug you about unsaved changes when they quit – they'll simply save the changes in the background automatically, then restore them when you next launch the app.

(Note: I think the above option is only available on Mountain Lion).

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks - I've already unchecked this option, but TextEdit and other apps still prompt to save if the document is untitled, because otherwise they don't know where to save it. I realise it's very unlikely that the behaviour of modal sheets can be changed, but it seemed worth asking just in case. – Nathaniel Sep 12 '13 at 4:38
  • Do you also have "Close windows when quitting an application" unchecked? – daGUY Sep 12 '13 at 16:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .