How to fix the hide and seek problem with a Mac window and hidden dialog

Mac hidden window solution: One of the craziest things I see with the Mac OS X operating system from time to time is a game of “hide and seek” that you can get into with dialog windows in Mac applications. You’ll hear people describe the problem something like this:

“When I click on my Mac application window (like the main iTunes window), my Mac makes a ‘dunk’ noise (an error sound), like I’m doing something wrong by trying to click on the window. Also, the window doesn’t seem to have focus in the foreground, or I can’t bring it to the foreground.”

This just happened to me when I plugged my iPhone into my iMac, and an iTunes dialog window somehow got stuck behind the iTunes main window. I think this happened because I plugged in the iPhone, saw that iTunes was going to do a backup/sync of the iPhone, and assuming this was going to take a long time, I naturally switched to another Space to work on something else. After that, whenever I switch back to the iTunes Space and try to click on the iTunes main window, I hear that “dunk” error noise from my Mac, trying to tell me I can’t click on the main window, because a dialog is shown on top of it.

At first I didn’t know why my Mac was making this error sound, but when I use the Mac Spaces feature to move from one space to another, I can briefly see the iTunes dialog displayed when I switch back to my iTunes space, but then it gets hidden again behind the main iTunes window again. I thought I might be able to get to the trapped/hidden dialog window by using the Mac Expose feature, but that didn’t work. I also tried switching back and forth between applications using the [Command][Tab] keystroke, but that didn’t work either.

Solution: How I was able to un-hide a hidden Mac dialog window

Frustrated with this ridiculous problem, I thought “Okay, that dialog window is hiding behind the main application window (the main iTunes window), what if I just hide the whole app?” So I right-clicked the iTunes application icon in the dock, and selected the “Hide” menu option. Now the entire iTunes application was hidden.

Now, to un-hide a hidden Mac application, all you have to do is click the application’s icon in the Mac Dock, so that’s what I did next, I clicked the iTunes application icon in the Dock. And just like magic, the hidden dialog now showed up on top of the iTunes main window, and I was finally able to dispose of it.

(FWIW, this was an iTunes/iBooks/store licensing window, saying that I couldn't download the “free” Winnie the Pooh book to this computer because it wasn’t licensed for this, ahem, free content.)



Was starting to think I was the only one who had this problem. If you a power user with lots of apps, multi monitors and use spaces with assigned apps to spaces, this happens all the damn time. Specially with photoshop and sometimes with skype. It's very annoying. I've been hiding and unhiding for over a year now. I think I'll make a spark macro to hide/show.


Thank you! I hope Apple will get this problem fixed soon, so we won't need this trick to get by