The iMac's Spaces Feature - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

iMac users tend to wax enthusiastic over the convenience features built into Mavericks. Spaces, which allows you to switch to an entirely different set of icons, is one of the features that many iMac users first show off to friends and family.

For example, suppose that you’re slaving away at your pixel-pushing job, designing a magazine cover with Pages. Your page-design desktop also includes Photoshop and Apple’s Aperture, which you switch between often. Suddenly, however, you realize that you need to schedule a meeting with others in your office using the OS X Calendar application, and you also want to check your e-mail in Apple Mail. What to do?

Well, you could certainly open Launchpad, launch those two applications on top of your graphics applications, and then minimize or close them. With Mission Control’s Spaces feature, though, you can press the Control+← or Control+→ sequences to switch to a completely different “communications” Desktop, with Calendar and Apple Mail windows already open and in your favorite positions! (If you’re using a trackpad, you can swipe to the left or right using three fingers to switch Spaces.)

After you’re done setting up your meeting and answering any important e-mail, simply press Control+← or Control+→ to switch back to your “graphics” desktop, where all your work is exactly as you left it! (And yes, Virginia, Spaces does indeed work with full-screen applications.)

Now imagine that you’ve also created a custom “music” Desktop for GarageBand and iTunes … or perhaps you joined Safari and iPhoto as a “webmaster” Desktop. See why everyone’s so excited?

To create a new Desktop for use within Spaces, click the Mission Control icon on the Dock, or press F3. Now you can set up new Spaces desktops. Move your cursor to the top-right corner of the Mission Control screen and click the Add button (with the plus sign) that appears. (If you’ve relocated your Dock to the right side of the screen, the Add button shows up in the upper-left corner instead.) Spaces creates a new, empty, Desktop thumbnail. Switch to the new Desktop by clicking the thumbnail at the top of the Mission Control screen and open those applications you want to include. (Alternatively, you can drag the applications from Mission Control onto the desired Desktop thumbnail.) That’s all there is to it!

To switch an application window between Spaces desktops, drag the window to the edge of the Desktop and hold it there. Spaces will automatically move the window to the next Desktop. (Applications can also be dragged between desktops within the Mission Control screen.) You can also delete a Desktop from the Mission Control screen: Just hover your pointer over the target Spaces thumbnail and then click the Delete button (with the X) that appears.

You can jump directly to a specific Spaces Desktop by clicking its thumbnail within your Mission Control screen — or you can hold down the Control key and press the number corresponding to that Desktop. Additionally, you can always use the Control+← or Control+→ shortcuts to move among desktops and full-screen applications.

You can even activate Mission Control, Spaces, and Dashboard by using your cursor instead of the keyboard:

  1. Click the System Preferences icon on the Dock.

  2. Click the Mission Control icon to display the settings.

  3. Click the Hot Corners button.

  4. Click the desired Screen Corner pop-up menu to choose what function that screen corner will trigger.

  5. Press the Apple key+Q to save your changes and then exit System Preferences.

    When you move your pointer to that corner, the feature you’ve specified automatically kicks in. Sweet!