How to Manage Windows in Spaces in Mac OS X Lion - dummies

How to Manage Windows in Spaces in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

Spaces lets you manage Mac OS X Lion windows by organizing them in groups called spaces and then switching from space to space with a keystroke or gesture. When you use spaces, only two kinds of windows are shown: windows from applications associated with the active space and windows from applications launched while that space is active.

If you find yourself spending too much time in OS X Lion moving and resizing windows on-screen, consider setting up spaces for specific tasks. You might have one space dedicated to a specific project, another for web surfing, and a third for e-mail, each with all its windows arranged just the way you like them.

Think of a space as being a single screen, set up just the way you like it, with its windows arranged just the way you like them.


You manage your Mac OS X Lion spaces with Mission Control, a new feature in Lion that provides an overview of what’s running on your Mac, including all your spaces, the Dashboard, and all open windows. In a nutshell, this dynamic duo makes it easier than ever to manage and maintain the variety of Finder and application windows that conspire to clutter and eventually consume your screen.

To see it in action, press the Mission Control key (Control+up arrow by default). If you have a trackpad, you can also swipe upward using three fingers to see Mission Control.


Note that you won’t see the Dashboard in Mission Control if you’ve cleared the Show Dashboard as a Space check box in the Mission Control System Preferences pane.

To add a new space, first enter Mission Control; then move the cursor to the top-right corner of the screen and click the Add (+) button.

You don’t see a + button? It’s hidden and appears only when your cursor is nearby. If you don’t see a + button there on your screen, move the cursor to that general vicinity, and it magically appears.

You can use this technique to add as many spaces as you like. When you’re finished using Mission Control, you can

  • Click a space at the top of the screen to switch to it.


  • Press the Mission Control key or swipe with three fingers to return to the space you were using when you entered Mission Control.

These gestures require a Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, or laptop with buttonless trackpad.