OSX Smart Maximize

As a first-time Apple's OSX user, another annoyance I'm finding is with the "smart maximize" behaviour, where a window only gets expanded to as big as it "thinks" it needs to be. This is different from Windows, where the maximize button makes the application take up the full screen (minus the taskbar).

In theory this smart maximize makes sense, why should a window be bigger than it needs to be? In practice though, it doesn't really work, because many applications have dynamic content which sometimes takes little space, but sometimes takes a lot.

Take a browser for example, some webpages can expand to usefully take up the full real-estate of your screen. Even the standard Finder application, if you click the maximize button while you're only one-directory deep in the split-pane view, it will resize to be pretty small. Then as you navigate deeper into the hierarchy, you need to scroll to the right to see the new sub-folders. The Finder window does not grow to accomodate the new content, unless you click the smart maximize button again.

Another good reason to have a full-screen app is to give it primary focus and minimize other distractions. Say you're editing a Word document, or coding an application, or editing a photo, these tasks usually require your full attention. So what's the point of having other things visible around the sides of the window? In cases where you need cross-application multi-tasking, you exit full-screen mode and snap the windows left and right, or in some other arrangement.

There are two work-arounds to this, neither of which is ideal. First, you can manually resize the window by dragging the corner with the mouse. That works fine, but it's not as quick as clicking a single button. Second, most applications now support a true full-screen mode, which basically takes over the mac, hiding everything including the top status bar and the dock. This is fine in some cases (like virtual machines), but not so much in other cases. Especially as this full-screen mode comes with an annoying lengthy 2 second animation that makes fast app-switching disorienting and inefficient.

This isn't a big deal-breaker by any means, just slightly annoying that there's no option for a standard maximize. At least not that I know of yet anyway. I tried searching through Apple forums, but ran into some closed-minded responses along the lines of "get used to it", "you'll realize this way is better", "go back to windows", etc, etc.

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