One very, very common question/complaint from folks who have recently switched from Windows to Mac is “Why does the green button only resize windows and apps?”. It’s a totally valid question – the resizing behavior has always annoyed me too, and I made the switch years ago.
Fortunately, there’s a very small and perfectly customizable program called Right Zoom that will change the default behavior and truly maximize programs when you click the green “Zoom” button” (). This tutorial will show you how to use it and set it up to best suit your needs.
First a brief bit of history. The green button is actually called the “Zoom Button”. In some applications it actually does maximize the window. Then, in some like iTunes, it changes the interface from the full iTunes layout to the mini-player. In other apps, it just resizes the window to what Apple thinks is the best ‘fit’. To say this is a bit confusing to recent switchers is putting it mildly. So – lets fix that button once and for all.
Start out by downloading Right Zoom. Unzip the file and drag RightZoom to your Applications folder. Double-click it to start the program.
Initially, you’ll notice that nothing at all happened. RightZoom actually runs in the background, and doesn’t really show itself at all. Click the green Zoom button in that same Finder window you opened to launch Right Zoom, and watch it completely maximize – just like in Windows and Linux.
Out of the box, Right Zoom will truly maximize a number of programs, but not all of them. The ones included by default are Finder, Safari, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Pages, Numbers and Keynote. To add additional programs to the “maximize” list (or remove some of the defaults) you’ll need to close Right Zoom. To do so, open a Terminal by selecting Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal. In the terminal window enter the command killall RightZoom.
Now hold down the Apple key (also known as the Command key) and double-click Right Zoom. You’ll be presented with the Configure Right Zoom window.
Click the plus sign ( + ) next to the Use Right Zoom in the following applications only: list. A list of your currently open applications will appear. Select one that you want to fully maximize when the green Zoom Button is pressed (in my example below, I selected VLC). Now each time you click the Zoom Button and Right Zoom is running, that application will completely maximize.
Repeat this step until you’ve selected all the applications you want to use Right Zoom with. Once you’re done, click the Apply button, and then the Close button. In the future if you want to add more applications to this list, make sure to close Right Zoom (step #4 above) and re-launch it by holding down the Apple Key.
Alternately, you can enable Right Zoom to maximize ALL applications, except the ones you specify. Just select Enable Right Zoom in all applications, but not in Exclusions: from the Configure Right Zoom options.
There are a few default programs included in this list as well, and you can add to them the same way you would add to the Use Right Zoom in the following applications only: list. Except this time, the apps that you add will never use the Right Zoom feature. One of the default apps added to this list, iTunes, you’ll want to leave in the list. See step #7 below for an explanation.
There are a few known issues with Right Zoom – but none (in my option) that would stop you from using this app. They are: if you click Zoom Button in an inactive application, Right Zoom may not work. Activate the application ﬁrst by clicking its window title. Also, Quick Time Player controls inside Safari show incorrect behavior while Right Zoom is running. This is Apple’s bug and there is no workaround at this time.
Additionally, you won’t want to allow iTunes to use Right Zoom – as it will disable the mini-player/full size player feature that normally happens when you click the Zoom Button.
By default, Right Zoom does not automatically start when OS X boots. To add it to your list of startup items, see this tutorial. That’s it – you now have a ‘normally’ functioning maximize (Zoom) button!