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.)