Best way to use “Spaces” on Mac

I found this article today

I have to admit, up until now my use of Spaces has been rudimentary at best, and I would have at most and not all the time two spaces, one for work and one for personal use, and I would usually find myself merging everything back into one space within a very short period of time.

But this article forced me to re-examine my thinking. “Compartmentalizing” your project into spaces can be a real game changer and I believe will be a good productivity hack.

I am curious as to how everyone uses spaces and if anyone uses this method?


I have 4 spaces set up but mostly use two of them. (The other two are used for sets of specific apps which I don’t use regularly.) One space is mainly configured for reading - emails, pdfs, epubs. One is mainly for writing and Messages and dealing with files archived in EagleFiler. Some apps can transcend all spaces, but my most-used apps are usually given a home space.

I don’t bother with keyboard commands to switch to and from spaces since everything is a swipe or two on the trackpad.

I’ve already started to experiment with having a space for each one of the major projects I’m working on, and I can tell you I’m loving it!

I never thought of grouping by project into spaces and this was the “Eureka” moment inspired by the article!

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AppleInsider is a bit late. Spaces has been around since Leopard (2006). Frankly I liked it better when the spaces were in a two dimensional grid as it made it easier to move between them.

I made major use of this feature for teaching, where I would have Keynote in one space, a Windows VM in a second, a sketching program in a third, and the utility doing the screen recording in a fourth. Now days most of these could just be done using Full Screen mode, which is integrated with Spaces, but before Full Screen mode this was a great time saver (and made presentations more professional).

Now that said, at my desk I’ve used dual monitors for about 15 years now, and prefer that to Spaces.

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Indeed. And TotalSpaces ($12) is a fantastic add-on for macOS that brings that back (in addition to other niceties). Unfortunately, in order to use it with macOS Mojave you need to keep turned off System Integrity Protection (SIP), and turning off that security feature is something which a lot my people, myself included, won’t do.

Still, it’s a powerful and useful utility to supercharge Spaces.

I discovered spaces before the command ‘cmd+tab’. It’s an essential part of using my computer especially since I don’t like full screen mode but also don’t like ever having overlapping windows.

Being late is very subjective. If the only articles about Spaces were written when it came out, they’d be 12 years old.
I like it when publications talk about good uses of software features, rather than just focus on the new features; it serves to remind me to revisit things I kind of knew about but never got into, but might now be a better fit for me.

I’m going to try Spaces again thanks to this. I got into using full screen for certain apps which I find very productive, which is a variation on this and super-quick, but less powerful.


I sometimes use Spaces to solve a very particular problem: Working on a project that will take more than a couple of hours to complete, and which requires multiple windows open and arranged so they can all be viewed simultaneously.

Most often this means I’m writing an article that is longer and hairier than the usual articles I write. I’ll have Ulysses open in half the screen, and my notes and research in the other half. Like @dustinknopoff , I don’t like to have blank space on my screen and I don’t like MacOS’s native full screen implementation.

I need to use Spaces more, but I find them confusing at times. Feel like this is a feature that could use a good workover by Apple or a third-party developer.

I love Spaces on my 13" MacBook Pro.

The secret to make Spaces smooth and easy is to turn on the Trackpad gestures for 3 fingers to swipe left and right.

Also, a handy Keyboard Maestro macro moves a window to the left or right space.

I find spaces is best used with hot corners. I highly recommend trying it.

From System Preference, select Mission Control, click on Hot Corners on the left corner of Mission Control. Finally, select Mission Control from the pull down menu for the top right and bottom right screen corners and click on OK. Now move your cursor to the top right or bottom right of your desktop screen and voilà.

I keep ally my apps except Tweetbot in full-screen mode so that’s how I use spaces basically

I keep all my apps maximized, most of the time, but not in full-screen mode. Something about full-screen makes me nuts, and I’m not sure what it is. Maybe that I like to be able to glance up and see the menu bar.

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Yes, I’m also not crazy about full-screen Mac apps. I have iTunes maximized in its own space, but that’s probably the only one. I have Chrome set up, with the help of Moom, to give me one window that fills two-thirds my 27" monitor’s screen and one that’s one-third, and only a small handful of apps are allowed in that space at the same time.

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Yup, love Moom! Love it even more since I set it up to do a kind of dumbed-down version of tiling. I have a few settings that move apps to take up an eighth of a screen, for the occasional instance where I need to have three apps open simultaneously.

A few months ago I switched from heavy use of spaces to using keyboard shortcuts to switch between applications. I’ve never looked back.

I’ve found that my use of Spaces and the utility I associate to the functionality increases when I’m using one screen only.

If you have a dual (or more) monitor set up, I’ve found that I tend to use it less. I’m still expirementing with Project containerization, so far it’s been quite good.

I concur with the article & everyone’s comments. Personally I have been using spaces on my iMac on & off for several years but I am finding it especially useful on my 15" MacBook Pro. With the smaller screen on the laptop and my older eyes I am finding that I like to go to full screen to write code or produce briefing materials for clients. When I put the full screen apps in their own spaces I can quickly move between them and to another catch all space with things like email & finder.

Spaces reminds me of a feature on the Unix workstations I used in the 90’s. Can’t recall what they were called. There was a series of buttons along the bottom toolbar that provided for separate desktops that you could configure. Feels like the precursor to spaces.

I’ve wanted to make use of Spaces since the feature was introduced, but haven’t found a system yet that makes my workflow easier so will take on board some of the suggestions above.

I’ve always been concerned about memory wastage with unused apps lingering in inactive Spaces. Is that not a thing?

I have a friend with an 8Gb Retina iMac who uses 4 spaces and has at least a half dozen apps open at any time. The only slowdown she sees is in the space she uses for her web browser, but in that space she usually has 10-20 tabs open at any given time so I wouldn’t blame it on Spaces.

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I guess I’m weird in that I like apps taking up most of the screen (or maybe it is my old eyes). Even on a 27 inch iMac, I have a couple main spaces I swipe back and forth between when I’m at the office.

  • In space #1 I have Safari (opened to my firm’s case management system) taking up 2/3 of the screen, and Drafts for Mac on the right third of the screen.

  • In space #2, I have Mail taking up 2/3 of the screen, and Things taking up the other third.

Depending on what I’m doing, I use the trackpad to swipe back and forth between those two spaces. I have Moom and Keyboard Maestro set to arrange those windows with a keyboard shortcut.

I also keep Fantastical open to fill the screen on a second monitor, and sometimes keep some other random apps open in a third or even fourth space (Tweetbot, for example).