The Mac way to do this is to hide the applications. This works similar to the way Windows 7 minimizes apps when you click on an app on the taskbar. Hiding an app makes it disappear from the desktop, but it remains running in the dock. You can hide your current application or hide all the other running applications. This can be done from the menu, the keyboard, or with the mouse.
From the currently running application, click on the application name (e.g., if Chrome has the focus, "Chrome" will appear in the application menu). Half way down the menu, the following options are available.
- Hide AppNameHere
- Hide Others
- Show All
The options are pretty self explanatory.
Command-H - Hides the current app
Option-Command-H - Hide the other applications
Option-Click Dock Icon - Hides the app selected by the click on the Dock.
Option-Command-Click Dock Icon - Hides the Other Apps and not the app just clicked on.
Note: Command = AppleKey on a Mac keyboard. (This is not the Control key.)