cues for window switching on large screens

 microsoft research

patrick baudisch
       window sw.


As this user is switching windows by hitting <alt><tab> a colored frame and a trail from the center of the screen are directing his attention to the window receiving focus. This particular visualization style performed among the best during our user studies.

An increasing number of users are adopting large, multi-monitor displays. The resulting setups cover such a broad viewing angle that users can no longer simultaneously perceive all parts of the screen. Changes outside the user’s visual field often go unnoticed. As a result, users often have trouble locating the active window, especially after switching focus using a keyboard. This paper surveys graphical cues designed to direct visual attention and adapts them to window switching. Visual cues include five types of frames and mask around the target window and four trails leading to the target window. We report the results of two user studies. The first evaluates each cue in isolation. The second study evaluates hybrid techniques created by combining the most successful candidates from the first study. The best cues were visually sparse – combinations of curved frames which use color to pop-out and tapered trails with predictable origin.
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Hoffman, R., Baudisch, P., and Weld, D.
Evaluating Visual Cues for Window Switching on Large Screens
In Proceedings of CHI 2008, Florence, Italy, April 5-10, 2008, pp. 929-938.
DOC (0.4M) | PPT (20.2M)

In collaboration with Raphael Hoffman (principal investigator) and Dan Weld, University of Washington