Use Spaces to organize the OS X desktop

Today’s installment of Learning OS X features the application Spaces. Spaces allows you to organize your OS X desktop by grouping your applications into virtual desktops or “Spaces”. If you like to multitask then the Spaces application will help you organize your desktop into various contexts. In this example I create two Spaces, one for personal information management and one for web browsing.

Let’s begin by enabling Spaces. Click the System Preferences and select Expose and Spaces. This will open the Spaces configuration window. There are two buttons labeled Expose and Spaces. Make sure that Spaces is selected. Select the check box Enable Spaces to turn on Spaces.

The application allows you to configure a number of Spaces by adding and removing rows and columns. For this example, I will setup two Spaces.

In addition, you can assign specific applications to open on a specific Space. I am specifying Safari to open in Space two and the Address book to open in Space one.

There are keyboard shortcuts to easily switch between spaces. The default behavior that I use most frequently is the Control key plus the left and right arrows to switch between these spaces.

Close the System Preferences and try out your new Space. Open Safari and your Address book. You will see that they open on two different Spaces. Use the Control + Left Arrow and Control + Right Arrow to switch between the two Spaces.

Spaces is a great way to organize your desktop. If you have any interesting uses for Spaces tell us about it.


  1. Sue on July 22, 2008 at 4:45 am

    I like to use Spaces to keep XCode and the Developer documentation open, if I need to look something up, I switch desktops.

    It works well for me and saves me having to get an additional monitor.

  2. Glenn on February 13, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. Spaces is so helpful and I needed someone to explain it to me initially so I could understand it better.

    How about a video for Expose? 🙂

  3. loans on November 8, 2009 at 2:39 pm

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