If you have been reading this blog for a while you know I am always on the lookout for utilities and other apps that enhance my daily workflow. Along those lines, I use different windowing apps like Moom and Mosaic. However, I have come across a neat little app called Switchem that is a real treat.
Switchem is a grouped windowing app. What does that mean? Windowing apps generally have settings for grouping related apps on your Mac screen. This is kind of a workflow idea. This blog article is a great example. Typically when I write a blog article these days I use three apps: Ulysses for writing, Snagit for screen images and BusyCal for scheduling. So, I want all three of these apps on my 27” iMac’s screen where I can interact with them. In Switchem you make groups of apps that you use for specific tasks. Here is what the Switchem Preferences window looks like containing my Blogging Group:
When you create a group it is listed in the Groups Preferences area in the sidebar. Typically you would name the group according to it’s main function, in this case “Blogging”. So, how do you create a group? When you install Switchem it creates a Menu Bar icon. To create a group just pull down the Menu Bar icon and select “Create New Group”.1 You will be presented with this window:
To make a new group check next to the apps you want in that group. They say to have the apps open and positioned where you want them before doing this. Then, when you open the group the apps go to the right places. Also, if you wish to have an app open a specific document each time you can click on the right arrow next to the app and go select the document. I don’t open a specific document with my blogging setup because I am creating a document each time. However, I so have a specific document selected when I use my Software Serials databases:
I know this is kind of small, but you get the picture. I keep track of my software serials in FileMaker Pro and Panorama database programs. So, when I select my Software Serials group in Switchem both of these apps open with the correct document.
Switchem works kind of like the macOS Command ⌘ + Tab ⇥ feature. You set up a keyboard combination. When you activate the combination you get a window like this:
In my case I use the Option Key ⌥ in conjunction with the Tilde Key. That way I can open the Switchem panel with my left hand. You move through the choices by continuing to hold down the Option Key and pressing the Tilde Key (or whatever keys you have chosen) over and over again. Each key press moves through the selections, just like the Command + Tab in the macOS. If you have the Switchem panel open, but change your mind, you can back out by hitting the Esc ⎋ Key.
Switchem does not have a lot of preferences:
You can choose to launch Switchem at login, it will run in the background. There is a place to setup your Group Switcher key combination. This is the keyboard shortcut that activates the Switchem window.
So, why is this app better than other windowing apps for the macOS? Well, in some ways it is equal to them. But, there is one thing it does that I really, really like. The other windowing apps will place a set of your applications at specific places on your screen. Those apps have to be open and running for this to work. However, when you select a certain workflow in Switchem it has the capability of booting up apps from scratch. I totally love that ability. When I want to use a certain workflow I just select it from the Switchem window, it boots up the correct apps and documents and places them on the screen right where I want them.
You can use a trial version of Switchem, here is what there website says:
Switchem will work for 100 uses in demonstration mode and requires macOS El Capitan or Sierra. Switchem for Windows is in development and will be available very soon. Stay tuned.
There are plenty of windowing apps out there for the Mac. Switchem is one among many, but I really like the way it works and how easy it is to create a workflow. Booting up the apps for you is just an added bonus. Switchem costs $9.99 from their website, it is not in the App Store. If you perform several different workflows throughout the day Switchem might be just right for you.
- There are keyboard commands for creating new groups also. ↩