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Expand Your Desktop with Spaces

Do you ever wish you could have a wall of displays to hold all the windows and applications you're running? I've long advocated working with more than one monitor (I have an external display connected to my MacBook Pro), but even that seems limited some days.

Spaces gives you a large virtual environment composed of up to 16 screens. What you do with those screens is up to you: run Mail and iChat in one space, then switch to another space containing Pages so you can work without the constant distraction of seeing new messages arrive. Use another space solely for running Microsoft Windows in VMware Fusion or Parallels Desktop in full-screen mode.

Set up Spaces

To get started, open the Exposé & Spaces preference pane and click the Spaces button. Then, click the Enable Spaces button (Figure 4.15). If you want to create more spaces, use the Rows and Columns buttons.

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.15 The Spaces preference pane.

Assign applications to spaces

An application can be assigned to a space, so that whenever you switch to that program, the environment switches to that space.

  1. Click the Add (+) button below Application Assignments and choose from the list of running programs, or choose Other to pick something else. You can also drag an application's icon from the Finder to the Application Assignments list.
  2. In the Space column, choose one of the numbered spaces.

    You can also choose Every Space, which enables windows from that application to appear no matter which space you're in. For example, setting iChat to exist in Every Space means it remains visible when you switch spaces.

Switch between Spaces

As I noted on the previous page, bringing forward an application that has a space assignment switches you to that space. Here are a few other methods.

  • Press Control and an arrow key; an icon representing the visual layout of the spaces appears to indicate which space you've just entered (Figure 4.16).
    Figure 4.16

    Figure 4.16 The Spaces icon, with space 3 selected.

  • Press F8, which invokes an Exposé-like overview showing all of your spaces. In this view, you can drag windows from space to space.
  • Press Control and a number corresponding to the space numbers found in the preference pane.
  • If you've enabled the Spaces menu bar icon, click it and choose a space.
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