Front and Center appSource: John Siracusa

What you need to know

  • Front and Center is now available in the App Store.
  • The app makes macOS Catalina behave like "classic" Mac OS.
  • A single click brings all of an app's windows to the foreground.

If you've been around long enough to remember "classic" Mac OS you probably already guessed what this app does. For everyone else, it's all pretty simple – Front and Center alters macOS Catalina's window behavior and brings all of an app's windows to the foreground with a single click.

That might not sound all that big of a deal on the surface, but if you really think about it, it's a game-changer. In its default state, macOS only brings a window to the foreground when you click it. All other windows belonging to that app remain in the background. And that can be infuriating if you're someone who lives with tons of windows open daily. Like John Siracusa does.

In classic, when you click on a window that belongs to an application that's not currently active, all the windows that belong to that application come to the front. In Mac OS X (and macOS), only the window that you clicked comes to the front.

My particular style of window management leans heavily on the classic behavior. I also appreciate the Mac OS X behavior in certain circumstances, so I was delighted to find apps that enable both behaviors, using shift-click to override the default.

Sadly, macOS Catalina's lack of support for 32-bit apps finally killed the last of the apps that implemented this feature. I was alone in a cold, barren world where I had to click on a Dock icon to switch to an app and bring all its windows to the front.

I tried to get used to it, but I could not. Next, I tried to persuade a few of my developer friends to create a tiny Mac app that implements just this one feature. My friend Lee, a longtime Mac developer and user, eventually took up the challenge and created a simple app to do it.

And there we have it. Front and Center is now available in the Mac App Store for $2.99. It isn't a huge app, nor is it complicated. But it does exactly what it says it will do and if you need it to bring back "classic" window management, you're in for a treat.

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