The problem of window manager has been with us ever since GUI and multitasking were introduced. Despite being considered as a most modern OS, OS X failed short when it comes to window manager, especially when compared with Linux. I’ve tried many so-called tiling window managers for OS X. All have failed for me so far but Amethyst.

To name a fews that I’ve tried: SizeUp, Spectacle, DoublePane, Slate, BetterSnapTool and some others… Most of them are not tiling but just simple window managers.

I’ve tried Amethyst before but it was not stable enough for daily usage at the time. I like the concept every much though. I later settled on SizeUp and Witch combo for window manager. They suck. But they suck the least at the time. And most importantly, it wasn’t really tiling at all.

About Amethyst

Tiling window manager for OS X similar to xmonad. Was originally written as an alternative to fjolnir’s awesome xnomad but written in pure Objective-C. It’s expanded to include some more features like Spaces support not reliant on fragile private APIs.

A quick screencast to show basic features of Amethyst

Getting started with Amethyst

Basic usage of Amethyst is very well-covered in its documentation on GitHub. I won’t go into details here. Some commonly used shortcuts are:

  • mod1 - option + shift

  • mod2 - ctrl + option + shift

  • mod1 + space — cycle to next layout

  • mod1 + j - focus the next window counterclockwise

  • mod1 + k - focus the next window clockwise

  • mod1 + return - swap the focused window with the main window

  • mod1 + h - shrink the main pane

  • mod1 + l - expand the main pane

That’re probably all you need to know to get started with Amethyst. Go figure some more when you’re familiar with the new tool. All of them are configurable in .amethyst configuration file in your home directory.

Amethyst is probably the best tiling window manager for OS X right now. It’s simple, intuitive and very lightweight with a low learning curve. You don’t have to learn a whole lot of new shortcuts to make the best out of Amethyst. It’s currently the top app on my software recommendation list.