New to Spaces and frustrated when opening documents in tabbed apps

Using Stage Manager in Ventura prompted me to finally try out Spaces. Spaces are great for me because I work on multiple projects, each with its own Safari, Word, Finder, and PDF Expert windows. I now have a Space for each active project.

But how Spaces deals with tabbed apps is frustrating. At first, when I would open a document with an app that I’m already using in another Space, it would switch me to that Space. That was disorienting and crazy-making. So I turned off the Mission Control setting, “When switching to an application, switch to a Space with open windows for the application.”

But now, when I open a document or web page in an app that has tabs, such as PDF Expert or Safari, it creates another app window in that Space, rather than a new tab in the application that’s already open in that Space. I grouped the app windows together using another Mission Control setting, but this still results in having multiple Safari and PDF Expert windows in each space rather than one. Is there any way to fix this?

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Not a solution to your specific problem, so I apologize in advance. Only in the past year did I realize folks use Spaces the way you do: one for each project.

Because of the behaviour you described, my assumption was always that spaces were for different kinds of work. All web browsing and communication happens in one space for me. Web development happens in another. Graphic, web design, and photography happen in another. I plan on buying a guitar amp modeller soon, and will give that its own space (along with any potential recording). also lives in its own space, so it is a) out of my way and b) I can always quickly tell if it’s being stupid.


What I do to get around this is open the application in the spaces I’ll be using it in. Then when I open a new item, it opens in the space I’m in.

For example, if I want to use Safari in Space 1 and Space 4, I’ll open Safari in both of those spaces. And when I open a link in Space 1, it will create a tab in Safari in Space1. Likewise for Space 4.

I use Bunch to setup predefined spaces. And right click on the application in the Dock to open an app in a space on an as needed basis.


My two main issues are:

  • Opening documents in tabbed apps doesn’t work most of the time (e.g., when I open a file from Finder), and I end up with multiple PDF and Safari windows in each Space instead of one window with multiple tabs.

  • There are things that cause windows, especially Word, to somehow open in a different Space and I’m automatically moved there. I can’t figure out why this is happening. (I use App Exposé often, maybe this is why?) Somehow all of a sudden instead of being in Desktop 3, I’m in Desktop 1 with windows that used to be in Desktop 3. Why??? :sob:

Apple: I never want to move to another Space automatically, only when I tell you to!!!

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Maybe because the worst setting ever is enabled on your system?

If the checkbox circled below is checked then uncheck it!

I don’t know why tabbed apps aren’t working for you. They work for me. :person_shrugging:


Good pickup, thanks. Unfortunately, I had already disabled that setting.

If tabbed apps in Spaces are working for you, that means I have a chance at fixing it! :smiley:

Strange, very strange.

One possibility is that it is a bug in Ventura, as I’m still on Monterey.

Do you have any applications set to open in a specific space (the “This Desktop” option)? That would force a switch to that space.

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Agree10000% (Not that quite much, but min post length)

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Thanks, checked my app settings and they’re all already set Assign to None.

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One thing with Safari, if you use Tab Groups, there’s some frustrating behavior with opening links from other apps:

  • If there isn’t a Safari window open outside of a Tab Group, Safari will open a new non-Tab Group window on the space you’re currently on
  • If there is a non-Tab Group window open, but it’s on another space, Safari will open the link in that window and switch spaces

I still haven’t completely figured out Finder’s logic for this, but it seems if you try to open a location (Downloads for example) and it’s already open in another Finder window on another space, it will switch to that space instead.

Or, if you have no Finder windows open on the space you’re on, it will switch to a space that does have a Finder window.

The key with Spaces is having that application’s windows already open on the space you’re on, before trying to open something.

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I will follow this approach - thanks! :slightly_smiling_face:

I think Preview has some issues in that area, aside from its interaction with desktops. There is a configuration in Preview that would seem to fix this, but it seems to be ignored. Even when on a single desktop, opening multiple files at once often opens separate windows. Furthermore, I’ve seen it do variously the “right” thing and apparently the “wrong” thing with no rhyme or reason. I’ve seen this through quite a few versions of the OS.

My 2 cents is that virtual desktops/spaces are a fabulous feature with the sky as the limit as far as ways to work, but that Apple seems to forget to think about how individual applications need to behave in a Spaces-enabled environment. It would also be nice if they would actually acknowledge that spaces and Stage Manager can coexist. SM should be able to be used separately within each desktop. Mostly that does seem to work, though I have issues with Stage Manager and have turned it off.

Yes, some of us DO have 15 applications open at once, and we divide the desktops by projects. Yes, some of us remember how the original multiple desktop concept was implemented on Unix systems, and Apple’s pretty version STILL falls short.

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